CLE Goes to Sundance

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by David C. Barnett

Two  filmmakers with local roots are taking their latest works to the Sundance Film Festival, this week.  

Matt Ratner and Steven Caple Jr. both relocated to Los Angeles, a few years ago, to be near the film industry, but they maintain ties to the place where they were born. 

Ratner is an independent producer who comes from the Forest City real estate family.  This weekend, he's taking his latest production --- First Girl I Loved --- to Sundance.

"It's about a lesbian Latina high schooler in Los Angeles," Ratner says.  "She falls in love with a young woman, and the film follows their coming-of-age story."

This will be his second film to play at the Park City, Utah festival.  Ratner says it's great to be selected, but it isn't easy.

"It's a really exciting time to be involved in independent film," he says, "because, it's much easier, in some ways, to make high caliber films than it ever used to be.  It also means that there's a lot more talented filmmakers out there with product, and so places like Sundance have become even more competitive."

Ratner's film first screens this Sunday as a part of the festival's "Next" competition, featuring up-and-coming filmmakers.  Among the movies he'll be up against is The Land, written and directed by another up-and-comer, Steve Caple Jr.

The Land follows the fictional story of some Northeast Ohio teens negotiating the temptations gang life versus a dream of fame through their skateboarding skills.  The film was shot in Cleveland last summer, and the cast includes performers Erykah Badu and Richard Colson, better known as rapper Machine Gun Kelly.  The film's title comes from an increasingly popular nickname for Cleveland.  The Land makes it's Sundance debut, this Tuesday. 

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