The 47th Cleveland International Film Festival recently announced its lineup.
Scheduled for March 22 to April 1 at Cleveland’s Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland, and then from April 2 to April 9 online, the in-person festival will feature 121 feature films and 199 short films from 67 different countries during its 11-day physical run. The online component, CIFF47 Streams, will present about two-thirds of the in-person feature films and the full lineup of short films participating in the festival.
Prior to opening night, CIFF will host its “Black Cinema Preview Event” from 4 to 5:45 p.m. March 18 at the Rice Branch of the Cleveland Public Library at 11535 Shaker Blvd. in Cleveland. The event is free.
Opening night will start at 7 p.m. March 22 with “Butterfly in the Sky,” a documentary about the PBS series, “Reading Rainbow.” Starring host LeVar Burton, “Butterfly in the Sky” tells the story of a group of broadcasters, educators and filmmakers who came together to create the show and how, for 25 years, “Reading Rainbow” encouraged kids to bring literature into their lives and to look beyond the pages to learn about the people, places and experiences within each story, according to a news release.
Co-directed by Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb, and co-produced by Bryan Storkel and co-executive producers Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Leonardis, Bryn Mooser, Justin Lacob, Kathryn Everett, Tony Hsieh, Andy Hsieh, John Brooks Pounders and Dava Whisenant, the film also features Alisa Reyes, Kenny Blank, Dean Parisot, Stephen Horelick, Jamie Duneier, Jason Reynolds, Cecily Truett and Larry Lancit.
Opening night tickets are $100 per person or $80 for CIFF members. The evening includes the 7 p.m. showing at Connor Palace and a post-film reception with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.
The festival’s centerpiece screening is “Being Mary Tyler Moore” at 7:15 p.m. March 28. Directed by James Adolphus, the film focuses on Moore’s life and career, and how she redefined the roles of women in media and inspired generations to break down social barriers, the release said.
The film includes interviews with and footage of Moore’s colleagues, including Ed Asner, Gavin MacLeod, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel, Betty White and Fred Grandy. “Being Mary Tyler Moore” was co-produced by Stan Daniels and Ed Weinberger, alongside associate producer Budd Cherry and co-executive producers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns.
Tickets are $16 for CIFF members and $18 for nonmembers.
The closing night’s festivities will include a showing of “I Like Movies,” directed, written and co-produced by Canadian filmmaker Chandler Levack. A coming-of-age dramedy, the movie follows a socially inept 17-year-old cinephile, Lawrence Kweller, who gets a job at a video store and forms a friendship with his older female manager. The movie was also co-produced by Lindsay Blair Goeldner and Evan Dubinsky. The cast, led by Isiah Lehtinen, includes actors Romina D’Ugo, Krista Bridges and Percy Hynes White.
Tickets are $16 for CIFF members and $18 for nonmembers.
Additionally, CIFF47 includes several special programs, including the DReam Maker Program and the DReam Maker Award, which was established in 2019 to honor the life of David K. Ream, a CIFF trustee who died in 2017. The DReam Maker Program and award celebrate LGBTQIA+ artists through the recognition of an LGBTQIA+ filmmaker and their work, as well as the presentation of a slate of films made by LGBTQIA+ directors featuring relevant themes.
The DReam Maker Award recipient for this year’s festival is Sharon “Rocky” Roggio and her film, “1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture,” which will be shown at 7:25 p.m. March 30. Roggio will spend her time in Cleveland meeting with organizations in Northeast Ohio whose missions support the LGBTQIA+ community. The award is accompanied by a $5,000 grant to support future work.
According to the release, “1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture” is a documentary about researchers who trace the origins of the anti-gay movement among Christians to a mistranslation of the Bible in 1946.
Another CIFF 47 special program and award is the Groundbreaker Award and program, which is now in its third year. The program and award focus on educational efforts about structural racism, and elevates and supports BIPOC and AAPI filmmakers, the release said. This year’s award and program will include several feature and short films, including “In Search of Bengali Harem” by co-directors Vivek Bald and Alaudin Ullah. The film will be shown at 4:55 p.m. March 25.
As part of the program, Bald and Ullah will meet with organizations whose missions support the themes and topics in their film, which is about Ullah’s childhood in Harlem’s Washington Carver Projects in New York, and how he intentionally neglected his Bengali Muslim roots, the release said. Later in life, he traveled to Bangladesh to uncover the history of his South Asian parents and learns to look beyond the stereotypes of his immigrant ancestry in a post-9/11 world, the release said.
Some movies with a Jewish or Israeli focus are: “A Still Small Voice,” “America,” “March ‘68,” “SHTTL,” “The Conspiracy” and “Who Are the Marcuses.”
Directed by Luke Lorentzen, “A Still Small Voice” covers a year in the life of Margaret “Mati” Engel, a chaplain resident at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and how she learns the benefits and challenges of spiritual guidance. Showings include 7:30 p.m. March 27 and 11:55 a.m. March 28.
“America” is directed by Ofir Raul Graizer, and tells the story of a Chicago-based Israeli swim coach who returns to Tel Aviv for his father’s funeral. A showing will be at 7:15 p.m. March 30.
“March ‘68,” originally titled “Marzec ‘68,” is set in 1968 Warsaw, and follows a young actress and a photographer who start a passionate relationship. Hania, the actress, finds out her father changed his identity to hide his Jewish heritage as protests begin to erupt, with the young couple finding themselves the target of investigation. The film was directed by Krzysztof Lang, and is showing at 4:45 p.m. March 30
Directed by Ady Walker, “SHTTL” is a Yiddish-language film that explores the June 24, 1941, invasion of a Ukrainian shtetl by Nazis as part of Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa. Set in the early summer of 1941, the movie is focused on the return of one of its youngest citizens, Mendele, who aspires to be a filmmaker while the town grapples with political, philosophical, religious and interpersonal concerns. A showing is scheduled for 4:50 p.m. March 26.
“The Conspiracy” is directed by Maxi Pozdorovkin and details 250 years of antisemitism through a partially-animated documentary. A showing is at 5:10 p.m. March 27.
“Who Are the Marcuses” is directed by Matthew Mishory, and is about a mysterious half-a-billion dollar donation to Ben-Gurion University in Israel from an unknown Jewish couple. Viewers will learn the story of Lottie and Howard Marcus, both Holocaust survivors, and the lives they built thereafter. A showing is slated for 5 p.m. March 29.
Tickets for CIFF47 are on sale at clevelandfilm.org. A full list of films and locations can also be found on the CIFF47 website.
The Cleveland Jewish News and its sister publication, Canvas, are media sponsors of CIFF47.