2017 Cleveland Intl Film Fest Draws Record Crowds

Big Sonia [Image / True Productions]

The Cleveland International Film Festival continued its record-breaking ways, this year, exceeding previous attendance records over its twelve-day run.  Sunday's closing ceremonies included an award for one of the country's leading film critics.

Hundreds of movie fans jammed the Tower City Fountain Court downtown to celebrate the last night of the 2017 film festival.  In all, festival attendance was four thousand more than last year's record of 102,000 people.

Among the prize-winners, was the $15,000 award for audience favorite "Big Sonia", about  a spunky 90-year-old Holocaust survivor.  A $10,000 cash prize went to "Burn the Ships", a film about an Akron women's fast pitch soft ball team.  And a $7500 award went to "September 12th", a feature about two people on a cross-country roadtrip in the aftermath of the 9-11 tragedy.

New York Times film critic A.O. Scott won the Festival's first annual Award of Appreciation.  In accepting, Scott spoke of the international community created by the love of films:

"All of us who care about movies, whether we're just movie-goers or movie critics or filmmakers or people who staff and volunteer at festivals, are all in this business of preserving and extending and sustaining an art form that has the unique ability to illuminate our world and to help us explain ourselves to each other."

The sale of the Film Festival's home base of Tower City to the Bedrock Detroit, last year, had caused some concern about the event's future in that venue.  But, Festival leaders announced that the real estate firm, run by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, has given the go-ahead for the 2018 edition, next April.

 

A COMPLETE LIST OF THIS YEAR'S WINNERS:

Roxanne T. Mueller Audience Choice Award for Best Film

Sponsored by the Callahan Foundation

BIG SONIA, co-directed by Leah Warshawski, Todd Soliday (USA)

$15,000 cash prize

 

ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman

Presented with support from Deborah Bachman Ratner

Danielle Miller and Julia Thorndike (for BURN THE SHIPS; USA)

$10,000 cash prize

 

George Gund III Memorial Central and Eastern European Competition

Presented with support from The George Gund Foundation

ANISHOARA, directed by Ana-Felicia Scutelnicu (Germany, Moldova)

$10,000 cash prize

 

Nesnadny + Schwartz Documentary Competition

MAY THE SCHWARTZ BE WITH YOU Director’s Award

Sponsored by Nesnadny + Schwartz

THE PEACEMAKER, directed by James Demo (USA)

$10,000 cash prize

 

New Direction Competition

Presented with support from CoverMyMeds

DAYVEON, directed by Amman Abbasi (USA)

$7,500 cash prize

 

Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Competition

Presented with support from The George Gund Foundation

CITY OF JOY, directed by Madeleine Gavin (Democratic Republic of the Congo, USA)

$7,500 cash prize

 

Global Health Competition

Presented by Cleveland Foundation

STUMPED, directed by Robin Berghaus (USA)

$7,500 cash prize

 

American Independents Competition

Presented with support from Tom Piraino and Barbara McWilliams

SEPTEMBER 12TH, directed by David Heinz (USA)

$7,500 cash prize

 

Local Heroes Competition

Presented with support from Mike and Nicki Cancelliere

THE UNIMAGINABLE JOURNEY OF PETER ERTEL, directed by Joseph Cahn (USA)

$7,500 cash prize

 

Music Movies Competition

Presented with support from Jules and Fran Belkin

SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY, directed by Matt Schrader (USA)

$7,500 cash prize

 

FilmSlam Student Choice Award for Best Feature Film

Presented with support from OverDrive

JEFFREY, directed by Yanillys Perez (Dominican Republic, France)

$2,000 Cash Prize

 

Audience Choice Award for Best Short Subject

THE ILLUMINATION, directed by Tom Scott (USA)

$1,000 Cash Prize

 

Best Animated Short Award*

Sponsored by Reminger Co., L.P.A

MY HEART ATTACK, directed by Sheldon Cohen (Canada)
$1,000 cash prize

 

Best Documentary Short Award*

Sponsored by Jules and Fran Belkin

ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND BEATING HEARTS, directed by Peter Byck (USA)

$1,000 cash prize

 

Best Live Action Short Award*

Sponsored by Anne Bloomberg and Alan Gordon Lipson & Judy Harris

THE WHOLE WORLD, directed by Julian Quintanilla (Spain)

$1,000 cash prize

 

FilmSlam Student Choice Award for Best Short Film

Presented with support from OverDrive

TWEEN, directed by Raven Johnson (USA)

$1,000 Cash Prize

 

*These award winners will qualify for consideration in the Short Films category of the annual Academy Awards®.

 

For a full list of short subject film award winners, please visit clevelandfilm.org.

 

 

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