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          Over 300 films from over 60 countries in one city: The 34th annual Cleveland International Film Festival

          Preparation necessary prior to delving into CIFF

          Noah Shwartz

          Issue date: 3/26/10 Section: Focus
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          Soi Cheung's cerebral thriller Accident, one of the CIFF's most anticipated films, sold out quickly, even with a less-than-ideal system of selling tickets.
          Soi Cheung's cerebral thriller Accident, one of the CIFF's most anticipated films, sold out quickly, even with a less-than-ideal system of selling tickets.
          [Click to enlarge]
          Walking down the narrow hallway that leads from the food court of Tower City, you can immediately feel the presence of 34 years of experience and 300 films waiting to be shown. You pass information, will call, and stand-by tables, as well as lines of people waiting to get into various films. For a newcomer to the Cleveland International Film Festival, it can be a little bewildering. I myself got lost and was sent back and forth between three different booths.

          It is important to remember that each of these films has a limited amount of seats left, as most of them (especially the popular ones) sold tickets in advance. So I should not have been surprised that when I showed up for Chinese cerebral thriller Accident five minutes before its starting time, it was completely sold out. As a result I had to buy a stand-by ticket for Down Terrace (a dark film about career criminals, set in England), before waiting in a stand-by line for one of the overworked film attendants to walk us to the theater.

          One of the few downsides of the festival is this difficult and perplexing ticket-purchasing procedure. I feel that there must be a simpler, if not less taxing, way to go about selling tickets, and I feel a good deal of sympathy to the polite, but very pregnant and tired, film attendant whose job it was to walk lines of people from the stand-by line to the theater all day, making multiple trips to pick up the inevitable stragglers. Those who go to the festival should take the time to acquaint themselves with this means of acquiring tickets and learn to come fully prepared. But the destination rather than the journey should be the real reward, and assuming you put a little bit of time and effort into your film selections, there are some real gems out there to see.

          Although the Cleveland International Film Festival has plenty to offer within the diverse realm of films being shown, it contains many happenings that don't exclusively deal with film screenings. There are numerous film panels at the festival, where the directors and actors in some of these pieces of cinema will answer the audience's questions, whether it be about their motivation, or how they felt about their co-workers. This is especially interesting for films like Ingredients, a documentary about where our food comes from, which ties in well to things in Cleveland like Bon-Appetit's local-vore craze, as well as the Cleveland Chefs Garden.

          Other films like 9000 Needles, a film about the alternative medicine one man turns to when his health insurance runs out, 8: The Mormon Proposition featuring both sides of the debate on Proppsition 8, and The Last Truck: The Closing of a GM Plant, whose title is self explanatory, also deal with issues that are very topical, and have film panels as well to talk to the directors about their takes on the issues. But politically charged documentaries aren't the only thing that CIFF has to offer: ensemble dramedies like Trailerpark and Russian musicals like Hipsters are also being shown.

          So take a break from the cares of school, take a bus down to Tower City, and go see a piece of quality cinema. Although it may ruin the next Oscar season for you, you'll thank yourself later, when as a result you become a more cultured, pretentious version of yourself.
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          • Over 300 films from over 60 countries in one city: The 34th annual Cleveland International Film Festival
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