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          Glitz and glory of Cleveland International Film Festival a local alternative

          Reem Azem

          Issue date: 3/19/10 Section: Focus
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          Aside from the immense activity downtown, other Cleveland locations, notably the Cedar Lee Theater, home of the first Cleveland International Film Festival, will show films throughout the week.
          Aside from the immense activity downtown, other Cleveland locations, notably the Cedar Lee Theater, home of the first Cleveland International Film Festival, will show films throughout the week.
          [Click to enlarge]
          Much can be said about the city of Cleveland, but unfortunately, it's not always positive. However, one current annual event that certainly benefits the city greatly is the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF). The Cleveland Film Society's CIFF is a just what one would expect of a film festival and more. Time magazine even raves, "Couldn't make Cannes? Try Cleveland."

          Having commenced yesterday, the festival will run until March 28, featuring movies across a host of genres with catchy subgroup titles such as Standing Up, movies dealing with the conscience, It's Easy Being Green, in which environmental issues are addressed; and Local Heroes, which will feature movies by local filmmakers. There will also be family films, documentaries, musicals, short films, and many more films from over 80 countries.

          It's important to understand the history of CIFF to appreciate its immense growth and popularity. The first Cleveland International Film Festival was held in 1977 at the Cedar Lee Theater. The schedule consisted of eight films from seven countries at the festival's inception. Since then, the nations represented at the festival have increased more than tenfold and the film count is now roughly 30 times greater than that of the first festival.

          The CIFF immediately gained popularity and the attendees craved more. New genres were added to the schedule and many more people, including film scholars and active community members, became involved. After much fund raising - courtesy of organizations like The George Gund Foundation and The Cleveland Foundation - as well as relocations, the festival made its home in Tower City.

          In addition to the growth in the number of films, attendance, number of volunteers, and filmmaking, guests have been growing rapidly since the first festival. Last year, 66,872 people attended the festival, almost five times the number that attended the festival's first time at its downtown location. Everyone involved in the organization of the film festival is dedicated to improving it each year, conjuring ideas to involve not only Clevelanders, but communities surrounding the Cleveland area as well. It's no wonder that it's the largest film festival in Ohio.
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