CLEVELAND - While next week's Rock Hall inductions and the Indians home opener are getting the lion's share of the attention these days, there is another celebration about to get underway on Wednesday—the 42nd Annual Cleveland International Film Festival.
The 12-day festival, which started with only eight films when it began in 1977 has grown just a bit in the four decades since.
"We have 216 feature films, which we all love that it's 216, and 253 short films," said Bill Guentzler, CIFF's Artistic Director. The films will screen primarily at Tower City Cinemas beginning at 9 a.m. on weekdays and as late at 11:30 p.m. on weekends.
The festival broke an attendance record last year with 106,504 attendees compared to 52,100 just 10 years ago. Theatergoers fill local restaurants, adding to the overall economic impact of around $5.6 million for the event.
"We bring in about 300 to 400 filmmakers from around the world, so they're staying in our hotel rooms and they're bringing in people from all over the area just to watch films and downtown Cleveland," Guentzler said.
"I think one of the more popular sections of our festival is the local heroes competition. And those are all films that either from Cleveland or Ohio or are made by Clevelanders or Ohioans," he added.
The festival may be just shy of two weeks, but getting ready for it is a year-long process.
"There's eight full-time staff people and then during the festival, there's over 300 staff people plus 1,000 volunteers to put on this event," Guentzler said.
Clevelandfilm.org has the rundown of all the movies associated with the festival as well as times and ticket information.