30 March 2009
I hadn't added up the years recently, but this was my 15th time going to the festival. It has only been on the rise, in attendance and in prestige, since the 19th festival was held in 1995. More films, more filmmakers, more screens of content, more people, more press coverage and more discoveries.
I have only visited the sites and in some cases ordered a catalog from a handful of other festivals, but I've only attended the one in Cleveland. The past three or four years I've gotten hooked on watching video blogs and youtube post that people have made about several festivals (mainly SXSW and Telluride).
Having confessed my lack of personal experience with the environment and atmosphere around other festivals, I do know lots of people who have been to lots of festivals. I've heard personal experience stories from people who both went with their film and who just went to see films at; Slamdance, Palm Springs, Ann Arbor, True/False, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, Sundance and Cannes.
In talking to these people, a lot of them filmmakers that I met at the Cleveland festival, I've had my suspicions confirmed-Cleveland has a very quality festival, and it's only getting better.
The catalog is available on their website (www.clevelandfilm.org) and if you'd like some recommendations, Justin and I are recording an entire show about what we saw and what trends seemed to emerge in the next few days, so it should be released in early April.
The main beauty of the festival is the location. Right in downtown Cleveland (which I love) and all at one 11-screen theatre. If you have the money and the time and a backpack full of food, there are 4 days when you can go from film to film to film from 9am until the midnight round and catch seven films in one day. The other 7 days of the festival you can only get in a mere 5 films per day, without ever leaving the same theatre complex.
If you want to skip a round you can walk to a Cavaliers game or upwards of 20 local bars that have overpriced drinks. Not to sound like the Cleveland Tourism Bureau, but it's a sweet location and we always have a blast.
Here are some past discoveries at the fest (some when on to quite a bit of acclaim):
Slaves to the Underground
House of Fools
The Weather Underground
Seeing is Believing
Madness & Genius
In the Realms of the Unreal
Last Life in the Universe
The Future of Food