Cleveland International Film Festival is ready to roll

Kristen Kotz

Deficit: directed by Gael Garcia Bernal (Mexico) 2007; playing March 13, 11:30 a.m. and March 15 9:45 p.m.

Photo courtesy Canana Films

Credit: Ron Soltys

The Cleveland International Film Festival

at Tower City, March 6-16, see the site for times.

$9 per movie for Cleveland Film Society members

$11 per movie for non-members

Lights, camera, action! The 32nd annual Cleveland International Film Festival will be taking place March 6 through 16 at the Tower City complex in Cleveland. The event will showcase 136 feature films and 160 short films from more than 50 different countries. Guests will be able to choose from six different movies at any time.

“It’s not like just going to the movies,” Bill Guentzler, artistic director of the festival, said. “It’s much more of an experience because you meet strangers in line and talk to them about the movies you saw.”

About 53,000 people attended last year’s festival. Guentzler said the festival will show some of the best and most recent international films from around the world. This is Guentzler’s third year as the festival’s art director. He originally got involved with the festival 10 years ago as an intern. Guentzler said the festival is a unique experience.

The first film of the festival will be Then She Found Me, directed by and starring Helen Hunt. The film is Hunt’s directorial debut. Guentzler said he picked this movie because he wanted to start the festival on a positive note.

“It’s an audience pleaser,” he said. “We like to have something that is light-hearted and will put people in a good mood.”

A few changes have been made to this year’s festival. A new award, From Page to Project, will be presented. It will honor a person who has made a significant contribution in both literature and film. Michael Cunningham, the Pulitzer-prize winning author of the novel The Hours, will be receiving the award. The Cuyahoga County Library will be co-sponsoring the award.

“We worked with the Cuyahoga County Library in the past on a retrospective,’ Guentzler said. “We had a great experience working with them.”

The festival is also going to introduce three new sidebars, or categories: Easy Being Green, which are movies that focus on the environment; Medical, which are films are films about health and medicine; and Women of the World, which will showcase films about or directed by women.

This year, director John Sayles (Lone Star) will be receiving the Director’s Spotlight Award. The award is given by the Cleveland Film Society to a director whose career deserves recognition. Rolf de Heer, a director from the Netherlands, took home the award in 2007.

The festival also features three-filmmaking competitions. The first is for best Central/Eastern film, which features a $10,000 cash prize. This award went to Branko Schmidt of Croatia for his movie, The Melon Route, in 2007. Best Documentary and Standing Up, which features films on social justice and activism, are the other two competitions.

The festival also gives out a number of awards, including Audience Choice for Best Film and Best Student Short Film.

Guentzler said the festival is one that features films for people of all ages to enjoy. He said there is even a family-friendly film category.

“It’s one big party,” he said.

Contact all reporter Kristen Kotz at [email protected].