Cleveland International Film Festival Expands to Gordon Square, University Circle

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The Cleveland International Film Festival kicks off its 43rd season of screening independent features, documentaries and shorts from around the world at Tower City Cinemas on Wednesday. 

But CIFF's effort to expand its footprint in Northeast Ohio brings the festival into two local arts districts this year.

"CIFF West" will screen films in the Gordon Square Arts District the first weekend of the festival at the Capitol Theatre and Near West Theatre.

Then for the second weekend, "CIFF East" takes place at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Unversity Circle.

Artistic director Bill Guentzler says the expansion of the festival to these locations is driven by the consistent full houses at Tower City Cinemas.

"It's worth it, because it's bringing films to the neighborhoods," Guentzler said.

Also, if at some point in the future CIFF would have to leave Tower City this lays the groundwork for screening films in other places.

"That was in the back of our minds," Guentzler said. "You look at Gordon Square, there are multiple theaters we can use.  Same with University Circle.  Those are two places that can easily be expandable next year or in future years."

Meanwhile, opening night takes place in Playhouse Square's Connor Palace with "Etruscan Smile" about an estranged father and son from Scotland reunited in San Francisco.

"It's an inspirational story," Guentzler said. "The father gets diagnosed with a deadly disease, and he wants to connect with his son. So he comes to San Francisco for treatment.  It's a great life lesson."

Bill Guentzler on other CIFF Films

"China Love"

"For decades even though there was photography for most weddings there was one photo of the bride and the groom.  Now couples spend tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars for wedding photos."

China Love Trailer from Media Stockade on Vimeo.

"Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People"

"It tells the story of how [Joseph Pulitzer] was an immigrant with very simple beginnings who became a powerhouse in journalism."

JosephPulitzer_Trailer from oren rudavsky on Vimeo.


"It's about Larry Nance Jr. and his basketball career and what it means to him to come back to Cleveland where his father was so important."

"Inside Akron's Tent City"

"It's about the Akron Tent City that was forced to close and the activism that's going on to help the homeless."

"The Public"

"It's set in Cincinnati.  It's our closing night film on April 7th.  Emilio Estevez not only directs it, he's the main actor, and he plays the head librarian of a library that's forced to stay open because there's a cold snap and the homeless have nowhere to go."



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