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After 30 Years at Tower City, Cleveland International Film Fest to Move to Playhouse Square

photo of Tower City
CIFF officials say Tower City's landlords -- who have been 'wonderful' according to Executive Director Marcie Goodman -- could only commit to the festival on a year-to-year basis. The move to Playhouse Square provides more stability.

The Cleveland International Film Fest will move next year from its longtime home at Tower City to Playhouse Square.

The 1989 film fest opened with “Major League.” That was the first time the festival screened a movie at Playhouse Square. It’s returned for four of the past five years. Starting next year, the entire festival will take place in the theatre district.

Executive Director Marcie Goodman says their capacity will increase significantly since they’ll be using multiple spaces at Playhouse Square.

“They range from the intimate to the grand. That is the really good thing about moving to Playhouse Square is, a lot of our capacity worries will go away.”

The move also provides more stability given the possible redevelopment plans for Tower City.

“Think back to way back when, ‘Oh, the Rock Hall was going to be built there. And then the Medical Mart was going to be built there. And who knows where the casino was going to go? And so the landlords throughout most of our 30 years there – who are wonderful – they were just not able to commit to us for more than one year at a time.”

Tower City is now slated to be redeveloped as a tech hub. The 11-screen cinema has a total of 2,800 seats. The largest venues in Playhouse Square match that: the State has more than 3,100 seats while the Connor Palace has more than 2,700.

The programming for this year’s film fest – the last at Tower City – will be announced February 28. Goodman adds that logistics for 2021 will be worked out after this year’s festival ends on April 5.

The first Cleveland International Film Fest took place in 1977 at the Cedar Lee Theatre and moved to Tower City in 1991. Today, both are owned by Cleveland Cinemas.

News footage of the 1989 "Major League" premiere is available below:


Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.