Columnist and author Regina Brett said she was looking forward to taking a closer look at the Irish and Polish films in the 47th annual Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF 47) that ran in-person from March 22-April 1 and was streaming from April 2-9, 2023. “That’s because I’m Irish,” Brett said. Her husband, Bruce Hennes, noted she’s sold a million books in Poland. “I’ve been told I have a Slavic Soul,” Brett added. They were among a lively group celebrating the opening of CIFF 47 after viewing “Butterfly in the Sky” featuring LeVar Burton and the creative team that worked on the PBS show “Reading Rainbow.” Reading Rainbow’s 26-year run inspired many children to start (and love) reading.
The theme of CIFF 47 was “Look Closer” and it offered many opportunities for CIFF buffs to examine topics via in-depth documentaries and foreign films with a special focus on Ukrainian films and filmmakers. The reception had a disco feel on the stage of the
KeyBank State Theater with complimentary hors d’oeuvres, pastries and a cash bar. This is the second year CIFF is happening in person in its gorgeous “forever home” at Playhouse Square. Dozens of post-pandemic CIFF fans were delighted to be back in person and to take a closer look at the festival in its new home. Former Cleveland City Council woman Merle Gordon noted, “I’m so excited. This is my first CIFF at Playhouse Square.” Gordon was eager to experience the festival in Cleveland’s premier live performance district.
While many of this year’s attendees expressed interest in taking a closer look at CIFF documentaries, shorts, Irish and Ukrainian movies, Liz Wagner raved about the opening film. “I have two boys who grew up with ‘Reading Rainbow,’ ” Wagner said. She bought many of the featured books for her sons and held onto these beloved books. Now that her son has children, Wagner is passing along these treasures to
her grandchildren. Bishara Addison, director of job preparation at the Fund for Our Economic Future, was inspired by the opening film to get more involved with increasing literacy in Cleveland. Her father, John Addison, was a long-time administrator in the Shaker Heights school system and reads to third and fourth graders weekly as part of his retirement volunteer activities.
Welsh actor and writer Ian Puleston-Davies was thrilled to have his first CIFF entry, “Bolan’s Shoes,” in this year’s festival. He directed this movie about a group of Liverpudlians who fell into the 1970s rock scene and how a tragic accident affected the rest of their lives.
Some attendees choose by country of origin and some choose by genre, but David Tarditi suggests, “Don’t judge a film by its title. I love CIFF because it’s everything my world isn’t.” Tarditi works in finance and with software in his day job. When he’s at CIFF, he takes an armchair trip around this world and beyond. STORIES AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY SARAH JAQUAY