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Cleveland International Film Festival announces program lineup, removes Russian films

Cleveland International Film Festival.
Posted at 12:06 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 12:06:25-05

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) announced its program lineup for the 46th annual event, set to take place at the end of March. While the festival announced its film lineup, it also announced a decision to remove two Russian films from the program.

From March 30 through April 9, the CIFF will be held at Playhouse Square. The in-person film festival will showcase 146 feature films and 182 short films representing 73 countries over the 11 days of showings. Following the in-person festival, CIFF Streams will take place on its streaming platform from April 10-17, featuring around two-thirds of the in-person lineup.

While the festival represents films from all around the world, CIFF announced that two films have been removed from the program as a move to stand in solidarity with Ukraine amid Russia's invasion.

CIFF said that it made the "difficult decision" to not screen films in the festival that are produced by Russia-based companies or funded in any way by the Russian Federation, explaining:

The Ukrainian Film Academy and European Film Academy, along with numerous Ukrainian artists, filmmakers, and others, have called on institutions worldwide to cancel cultural partnerships with the Russian Federation. The unlawful and brutal actions of the Russian government are being challenged across the globe. While we embrace artistic freedom and have not based our decision on the content or storytellers of any particular film, we must recognize that freedom itself now hangs in the balance in Ukraine

As part of the decision, CIFF has pulled the dark comedy drama "No Looking Back" as well as the drama "Unclenching the Fists."

"No Looking Back" was produced in support from the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, while "Unclenching the Fists," which has won numerous awards, including the Russian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards, was produced by Russian motion picture studio Non-Stop Production.

Other film festivals have taken similar measures in regards to state-funded Russian films in an attempt to stop support of the Russian government, but the decision to cease inclusion of all Russian-based work has also drawn concern that these steps will harm the Russian people rather than the Russian government.

"Just like that- every “innocent “ Russian suffers as well, bc of the monster they have for a president," one woman wrote on the Facebook post of another film festival announcing a similar decision.

"I don't support Putin in any way but I don't think blanket censorship is a good idea," another commented.

While the two Russian-based films have been pulled from CIFF, the festival will go on with the 146 other feature films being shown.

Tickets for the festival go on sale to members on Friday, March 11 at 11 a.m. and to the public on Friday, March 18 at 11 a.m. Ticket pricing for in-person screenings starts at $14 for CIFF members and $16 for non-members. Streaming tickets start at $8 for CIFF members and $10 for non-members.

To learn more or buy tickets, click here.

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