Cleveland International Film Festival
Circa 2003 -2006


This was the official website for the Cleveland International Film Festival.
Content is from the site's 2003 -2006 archived pages offering just a glimpse of what this festival is all about.

The current website for the Cleveland Film Festival, now called the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIIF), is found at:


about cfs


Founded in 1977, the Cleveland Film Society has presented the Cleveland International Film Festival every spring for nearly three decades.


The first Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) was organized by Jonathan Forman and presented April 13 – June 2, 1977. Eight films from seven countries were shown at the Cedar Lee Theatre in Cleveland Heights over an eight-week period. Presented as a subscription series, the first CIFF received substantial media attention, and attendance indicated that Clevelanders wanted a broader schedule.

By its third year, the CIFF had grown to include feature films from around the world, children’s films, retrospectives, and short subjects. A Board of Trustees — consisting of community leaders, film scholars, and film enthusiasts — was assembled to oversee the mission, funding, and growth of the CIFF.

By its fifth year, the CIFF had developed a network of screening locations, establishing itself within the Greater Cleveland arts community as an eagerly awaited annual event. Fund raising was enhanced through the generosity of The George Gund Foundation and The Cleveland Foundation, and educational efforts were strengthened as a result.

In 1986 the CIFF moved its Opening Night to the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square, adding to the excitement and appeal of the event. Guest filmmakers regularly attended the Film Festival to introduce their films and answer audience questions. And a fall program of international films became an annual part of the organization’s presentations for a number of years.

In January 1991, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to move the Film Festival from the Cedar Lee Theatre in Cleveland Heights to Tower City Cinemas in downtown Cleveland, making the event more accessible to film lovers from throughout the region. In addition, , the Board of Trustees of the Cleveland International Film Festival also voted to change the name of the organization to the Cleveland Film Society (CFS). The purpose of the change was to reflect the evolution of the organization’s mission. During its first year downtown, the Festival’s attendance (14,000) fell slightly. But by 1995 attendance had grown to 23,000. And in 1998 the Festival experienced its greatest one-year increase in attendance: a jump of 16% resulted in 32,000 admissions. At the 28th CIFF in March 2004, there were more than 39,000 admissions.

Today the Cleveland International Film Festival is the flagship event of the organization, though certainly not its sole function. Year-round programs and services include Film Feasts (mini-fundraising events), film appreciation classes, and membership activities.

Ohio's premier film event features more than 200 new films from over 40 countries on six continents. Visiting directors, panel discussions, student screenings and a conference for area filmmakers are all CIFF highlights.

The Cleveland Film Society serves area film enthusiasts with film appreciation classes and year-round film exhibition. Over 1,500 people belong to its various membership and subscription groups. And tens of thousands of people enjoy its programs. The age range of participants is 8 to 80. Youngsters attend the Family Film Festival at the CIFF and senior citizens share their enjoyment of the art form in film appreciation classes.

In addition to being the flagship event of the Cleveland Film Society, the Cleveland International Film Festival is the premier film event between New York and Chicago. A number of different venues are used to showcase the films. If you have sat through as many viewings as I have over the years you begin to appreciate the better venues because of certain comforts such as cushy seats or the quality of the paper towels & paper product found in the rest rooms. You may laugh at that, but really, don't you take pleasure in soft, 2 ply toilet paper over those thin 1 ply rough cheap paper found in many public rest rooms. Likewise nice paper towels to dry your hands and even tissue paper boxes are really to value considering what some places offer visitors. I have a brother who works for an e commerce site that sells paper towells & paper product supplies to both wholesale and retail customers. This guy knows his paper products. He'll come out of a rest room and say, "Hey, they have GEN Jumbo Jr. 2-Ply toilet paper rolls in the stall. Good choice!" Or " I approve of the Windsoft 2420 Kitchen 2-ply paper towel rolls they have in the dispenser." Some folks think he's a bit nuts. I understand, and although I don't know the specific brand or manufacturer, I know what I like and don't like.

Today’s CIFF includes a full survey of contemporary international filmmaking with approximately 100 features from 44 countries and more than 100 short subjects that are shown in collected programs. Along with the main program of international films, there are special sections that add interest and diversity to the overall Festival. These include American independent, documentary, Eastern European, family, gay and lesbian, and Pan-African films.


We are now accepting entries for the 28th Cleveland International Film Festival.
Early Bird Deadline: August 31, 2003
Regular Deadline: October 31, 2003
Late Deadline: November 30, 2003
Extended Deadline: December 15, 2003

The 27th Cleveland International Film Festival



the programs

In addition to being the flagship event of the Cleveland Film Society, the Cleveland International Film Festival is the premier film event between New York and Chicago. Today's CIFF includes a full survey of contemporary international filmmaking with approximately 80 features from 35 countries and more than 100 short subjects that are shown in collected programs. Along with the main program of international films, there are special sections that add interest and diversity to the overall Festival. These include American independent, documentary, Eastern European, family, gay and lesbian, and Pan-African films.

Many filmmakers and other special guests attend the CIFF where they participate in FilmForums, which are panel discussions that give audience members a chance to talk about the films they've seen at the Film Festival.

Additionally, through a community outreach program called Cultural Journeys, members of culturally diverse groups and communities learn from one another using the universal language of film.

FilmSlam is the CIFF's student film festival for high school students. It is held on weekday mornings during the CIFF. At the 26th CIFF in March 2002, over 2,000 students from 60 Northeast Ohio schools participated in FilmSlam. In addition to viewing films, they met with visiting filmmakers.

The three-day Midwest Independent Filmmakers Conference (MIFC) is held during the last weekend of the CIFF each year. This event features panels, workshops, equipment demonstrations, film screenings, and social events.

Since it moved into its new Ohio City office space in August 1999, the CFS has been able to offer film appreciation classes (taught by educators and other experts) year-round and on the premises. During the past three years, popular film appreciation classes have included "An Introduction to Film Appreciation," "Fellini on Film," "Film Noir," "Rock Documentaries," and "The Films of Alfred Hitchcock." (By the way, the CFS moved to its current office space on August 13, 1999, which was the 100th anniversary celebration of Alfred Hitchcock's birthday.) Another class, "Opening This Friday," is so popular that it is offered every session. "Opening This Friday" is like a book club for cinephiles: the entire class sees the same new release one week and gets together to talk about it the next week.

Currently the CFS is preparing to launch a new education initiative that will focus on media literacy training for educators and media literacy experiences for high school students.



The 27th CIFF Party Series presented by
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Opening Night Gala Post-Party
11 p.m. - 2 a.m.
1229 W 6 St, Cleveland - Warehouse District
Drink specials and free sushi at Midnight

Friday, March 21, 2003
10 pm - ??
1869 W 25 St, Cleveland - Ohio City
Half price martinis, free admission with CIFF ticket stub or pass

Monday, March 24, 2003
10 pm - ??
1212 W 6 St, Cleveland - Warehouse District
Free appetizers, drink specials, VIP lounge and clip reels

Tuesday, March 25, 2003
10 pm - ??
748 Prospect Ave, Cleveland - Gateway District
Free appetizers and drink specials

Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Century at The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland
7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
1515 W 3 St, Cleveland - Tower City Center
Complimentary hors d'oeuvres

Thursday, March 27, 2003
2814 Detroit Ave, Cleveland - Ohio City
10 pm - ??
Free appetizers, drink specials, and free admission with CIFF ticket stub or pass

Friday, March 28, 2003
Midwest Independent Filmmakers Conference Kick-Off Party
Hyatt Regency Cleveland at The Arcade
10 pm - ??
401 Euclid Ave, Cleveland
Cash bar and free admission with CIFF ticket stub or pass

Saturday, March 29, 2003
World Celebration Event
Great Lakes Brewing Company's New Brewery on Carroll Avenue
9 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Carroll Ave @ W 26 St, Cleveland - Ohio City
$10 admission, but free for CIFF pass holders

Saturday, March 29, 2003
World Celebration Event Post-Party
12 a.m. - ??
1229 W 6 St, Cleveland - Warehouse District



MARCH 20-30, 2003


  • Attendance of 35,173

  • 36 sell-out screenings

  • 102 feature films

  • 94 short subjects

  • 44 countries of origin

  • Almost 50 visiting filmmakers and other guests from around the world




  • The Roxanne T. Mueller Award for Best Feature Film (audience choice award) went to SPELLBOUND (USA), directed by Jeff Blitz. Runners up were MY FLESH AND BLOOD (USA), directed by Jonathan Karsh; RUTHIE AND CONNIE: EVERY ROOM IN THE HOUSE (USA), directed by Deborah Dickson; MONSIEUR BATIGNOLE (France), directed by Gérard Jugnot; MINOES (Netherlands), directed by Vincent Bal; SMALL VOICES (Philippines), directed by Gil M. Portes; TOUCHING WILD HORSES (Canada/United Kingdom/Germany), directed by Eleanore Lindo; STEVIE (USA), directed by Steve James; KABHI KHUSHI KABHIE GHAM (India), directed by Karan Johar; and THE NAZI OFFICER'S WIFE (USA), directed by Liz Garbus.

  • The first CIFF Central and Eastern European Competition presented a surprising outcome. In a statement from the three jurors: After lengthy deliberation, the jurors decided to give this prize "ex equo" to HUKKLE (Hungary), directed by György Pálfi, and EDI (Poland), directed by Piotr Trzaskalski . Juror Sergey Lavrentiev referred to HUKKLE as "a strong cinematic experience that matches equally the in-depth character development of EDI." Juror Goran Markovic agreed that "the Hungarian folklore as portrayed in HUKKLE is an equal endeavor to the portrait of universal drama in EDI." Bruce Checefsky, the third juror, called this "ex equo" decision "the classic rivalry between fable (HUKKLE) and true life (EDI)."

  • Best Live Action Short Film (Sponsored by David Ream): OUT OF HABIT (USA), Directed by Robin Larsen; Honorable Mentions: ANOTHER LIFE (USA), Directed by Tracey D'Arcy and CHASING HEAVEN (United Kingdom), Directed by Claudia Solti
  • Best Animated Short Film (Sponsored by SpaldJack, Inc.): HOME ROAD MOVIES (United Kingdom), Directed by Robert Bradbrook; Honorable Mentions: THE BOX MAN (USA), Directed by Nirvan Mullick and ROOF SEX (USA), Directed by PES

  • Process Award for Visual Excellence (Sponsored by John Williams and Process Creative Studios): MIGUELINA (Venezuela), Directed by Reyther Ortega; Honorable Mentions: STREET OF PAIN (USA), Directed by Tyrone Finch and Jeremy Hall and THE HUNGRY SQUID (Canada), Directed by John Weldon

  • Humanitarian Award (Anonymously Sponsored): BORDER (USA), Directed by Annette Solakoglu; Honorable Mentions: FROM THE 104th FLOOR (USA), Directed by Serguei Bassine and THE HANGED DOG TREE (Belgium), Directed by O. Van Malderghem

  • Best Student Short Film (Sponsored by The William Worth Wardell Scholarship Fund): REQUEST (USA), Directed by Jinoh Park; Honorable Mentions: BACKSLIDE (USA), Directed by Rick Ross and KATHERINE (USA), Directed by Mary Louise Stoughton

  • Best Ohio Short Film (Sponsored by Kodak and Film Craft Lab): THE LEAST OF THESE (USA), Directed by Rik Swartzwelder; Honorable Mentions: BEHIND CLOSED DOORS (USA), Directed by Michael Paukst and JIMMY (USA), Directed by Kasumi

  • Best Women's Short Film (Sponsored by Jinny and John Johnson): SOPHIE (USA), Directed by Helen Haeyoung; Honorable Mentions: BARRIER DEVICE (USA), Directed by Grace Lee and D.E.B.S. (USA), Directed by Angela Robinson

  • Best Documentary Short Film (Sponsored by Jules and Fran Belkin): LOVE IN AN ELEVATOR (USA), Directed by Thea St. Omer; Honorable Mentions: ALL WATER HAS A PERFECT MEMORY (USA), Directed by Natalia Almada and A CONVERSATION WITH HARRIS (USA), Directed by Sheila M. Sofian

  • This year the Cleveland International Film Festival created a new award named THE SERVICE TO THE FIELD AWARD. Women Make Movies was the first recipient of this prestigious award. Women Make Movies was founded in 1972 to facilitate the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and video projects by and about women of all races and ages. Celebrating its 30-year anniversary, Women Make Movies is now the largest distributor of women's films and videos in the world. The award, a sculpture by area artist Anna Arnold, was sponsored by Chris and Libby McNeece


  • Sponsored by Dollar Bank, AMERICAN SPLENDOR (USA) opened the 27th Cleveland International Film Festival on Thursday, March 20th. Cleveland's Major, the Honorable Jane Campbell, served as Honorary Chair of the Opening Night Gala. Special guests included: Joyce Brabner, Danielle Batone, and Toby Radloff. Following the screening of the film, there was an Opening Night Harvey Pekar Party and Gala Reception at The Silver Grille. Over 800 people attended Opening Night.

  • The 27th CIFF catalogue was unveiled on Opening Night


  • The Film Festival partnered with the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland for a special presentation sponsored by Toby Devan Lewis. LOVE IS A TREASURE, directed by Eija-Liisa Ahtila, was a film of surreal vignettes drawn from interviews with women afflicted with mental illness. The partnership presentation was held on Thursday, March 27th. Barbara London, Associate Curator, Department of Film and Video for the Museum of Modern Art (New York), moderated the program.

  • Cultural Journeys, which is a multicultural Film Festival program, welcomed new audiences from a broad spectrum of ethnic and national backgrounds. Featuring cutting edge films from a variety of cultural communities, Cultural Journeys brings people together to learn about each other's customs, lifestyles, and traditions through the shared language of film. The six Cultural Journeys films represented a number of countries: RACHIDA (Algeria/France); SMALL VOICES (Philippines); SLOGANS (France/Albania); A PECK ON THE CHEEK (India); I'M TARANEH, 15 (Iran); and YEAR OF THE DEVIL (Czech Republic). More than 1,400 people attended the Cultural Journeys films. A World Celebration event took place on Saturday, March 29th at the Great Lakes Brewing Company Tasting Room. More than 500 party-goers danced to live music from around the world, while sampling an assortment of ethnic cuisine. Cultural Journeys was sponsored by KeyBank and McDonald Financial Group.

  • Three FilmForums were presented during the Festival. On Monday, March 24th, following the screening of CREATIVE ESSENCE, panelists addressed the topic of the arts as the key to Cleveland's cultural and economic renaissance. This forum was sponsored by Hahn Loeser + Parks LLP. On Thursday, March 27th, following the screening of GEORGIE GIRL and NO DUMB QUESTIONS, panelists examined the complex issues surrounding transgender. On Friday, March 28th, following the screening of LOVE AND DIANE, panelists discussed issues relating to this powerful documentary (AIDS, drug addiction, and foster care).

  • FilmSlam, our Film Festival for high school students, took place on five weekday mornings. Close to 2,000 high school students registered to see the following films: BOLIVIA (Argentina), a captivating social exposé; I'M TARAHAH, 15 (Iran), a cross-cultural journey; MINOES (Netherlands), a creative vision; MONSIEUR BATIGNOLE (France), a story of bystander to activist; THE NAZI OFFICER'S WIFE (USA), a gripping survival story; and a program of short subjects, a FilmSlam favorite. Teachers were provided with study guides in advance and speakers (including the filmmakers) answered questions from the students following the screenings. We again included an additional aspect to FilmSlam this year - in-depth filmmaking workshops. These workshops were held in conjunction with the Midwest Independent Filmmakers Conference (MIFC). They covered three topics: Music Video Production, Stunts and Special Effects, and Cartoons. FilmSlam was sponsored by Cuyahoga Community College and Huntington Bank.

  • The Sixth Annual Midwest Independent Filmmakers Conference (MIFC) was held during the last weekend of the Festival, at the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade. This three-day event dedicated to independent filmmaking was open to anyone interested in learning about the art form. Independent film experts from around the country served on an array of panels. In addition to signing up for panels (topics ranged from Experimental Cinema vs. Digital Media to Making a Documentary in the World of Reality TV), participants attended Festival screenings and parties.

  • RESPIRO (Italy), directed by Emanuele Crialese and starring Valeria Golino closed the Festival on Sunday, March 30th. A closing night party at the California Greenhouse Cafe, sponsored by Dollar Bank, took place prior to the film.

    Dan Badea, Producer of OCCIDENT
    Robert Banks, Director of A.W.O.L.
    Natalie Barandes, Director of AS VIRGINS FALL
    Serguei Bassine, Director of FROM THE 104TH FLOOR
    Peter Belsito, Film Finders
    Steven Bognar, Director of GRAVEL
    Diane Cheklich, Director of NO DAY PROMISED
    Justin Choma, Director of ONE OF FIVE
    Tyrone Finch, Director of STREET OF PAIN
    Karen Gocsik, Producer of FROM THE 104TH FLOOR
    Don Goldmacher, Producer of RUTHIE & CONNIE
    Brad Gottfred, Director of THE MOVIE HERO
    Sam Green, Director of THE WEATHER UNDERGROUND
    Ágúst Gudmundsson, Someone To Watch recipient
    Jim Healy, Assistant Curator of George Eastman House
    Steve James, Director of STEVIE
    Sergey Lavrentiev, Central & Eastern European Competition Juror
    Alvoro Leite, Director of LUCKY'S
    Barbara London, Associate Curator, Department of Film and Video, MOMA
    Goran Markovic, Director's Spotlight recipient
    Robert May, Producer of STEVIE and THE STATION AGENT
    Sarah Neuburger, Women Make Movies
    Gerald Peary, Film Critic for the Boston Phoenix
    Julia Reichert, Producer of GRAVEL
    Joel Sadilek, Director of THE SUMMER HOUSE
    Marta Sanchez, Women Make Movies
    Scott Saunders, Director of THE TECHNICAL WRITER
    Ed Solomon, Director of LEVITY
    Nancy Stein, Director of STEALING INNOCENCE
    Yvonne Welbon, Director of SISTERS IN CINEMA





Driving Directions

Tower City Cinemas are located at Tower City Center on Public Square in the heart of downtown Cleveland.

Shoreway east to Lakeside Ave. exit
South (right) on W. 6th St.
West (right) on St. Clair Ave.
South (left) on W. 9th St.
Continue south on Huron Rd.
Enter Tower City Parking on the right.
Shoreway west to W. 3rd St. exit
West (right) on St. Clair Ave.
South (left) on W. 9th St.
Continue south on Huron Rd.
Enter Tower City Parking on the right.
I-90 West to Prospect Ave., Exit 173A
West (right) on Prospect Ave.
West (left) on Huron Rd.
Continue west on Huron Rd.
Enter Tower City Parking on the left
I-71 North to Ontario Ave., Exit 171B
Continue north on Ontario Ave.
West (left) on Huron Rd.
Enter Tower City Parking on the left
I-77 North to E. 9th St., Exit 163C
North (right) on Ontario Ave.
West (left) on Huron Rd.
Enter Tower City Parking on the left


The 27th Cleveland International Film Festival was sponsored by Adcom Communications, Adelphia, The Avenue at Tower City Center, Avery Dennison Fasson Rolle North America, AVID Communications, Baker & Hostetler LLP, Bartha Visual, Bright.Net, The Camera Department, Century Cycles, Cleveland Cinemas, The Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Jewish News, Cleveland Magazine, Cleveland Scene, Cleveland Urban Properties, Cohen & Company, Continental Airlines, Consume Design, Copy King, Cuyahoga Community College, Dollar Bank, Film Craft Lab, FilmFinders, The Glenmede Corporation, Great Lakes Brewing Company, Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP, Hilton Garden Inn Cleveland Gateway, Holiday Inn Select City Centre Lakeshore, Huntington National Bank, Hyatt Regency Cleveland at The Arcade, Ideastream WCPN, IMI Talent, indieWIRE, Intercontinental Suites Cleveland, Intervideo, KeyBank / McDonald Financial Group, Kodak, KPMG, Land Rover Solon, Luchita's Mexican Restaurante, Madstone Films, Magic Eightball Productions, National City Bank, Nice Multimedia, Northeast Projections, PlanetOut Partners, Process Creative Studios, Reserve Square, Residence Inn by Marriott - Cleveland Downtown, The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland, Sheraton Cleveland City Centre Hotel, Silver Screen Media, Sun Newspapers, Sweet & Associates, Thompson Hine LLP, TLA Releasing, Ulmer & Berne LLP, WCLV, WKSU-FM,, and Women Make Movies.

Major foundation support came from The Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Eva L. and Joseph M. Bruening Foundation, the Callahan Foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, The John P. Murphy Foundation, The William J. and Dorothy K. O'Neill Foundation, and the Kiwanis Foundation of Greater Cleveland. Government funding was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman.

The Cleveland International Film Festival is a program of the Cleveland Film Society, which is a not-for-profit arts and education organization. The mission of the Cleveland Film Society is to promote artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition to enrich the life of the community.


The 28th Cleveland International Film Festival will be held March 18-28, 2004.