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CIFF, another Coronavirus Casualty

By La Prensa Staff


The coronavirus pandemic has caused hundreds of event cancellations across Ohio in March and April, but one of the more devastating may be the Cleveland International Film Festival. The 44th in-person version of the annual event had to take a drastic new form because of social distancing and the avoidance of large crowds to slow the spread of COVID-19.


The film festival was supposed to run March 25 through April 7, 2020 at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. Instead, CIFF44 will be a virtual experience. Festival goers are being encouraged to visit clevelandfilm.org/alums for a listing of past CIFF film alums that are now   available for streaming.


“In an attempt to help these days stuck at home go by faster, we’ve compiled a list of films from past CIFFs that are currently available to stream through various platforms, like Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes,” a message on the film festival website reads. “Take a trip down CIFF memory lane, re-watch your favorites, and catch up on the ones you missed.”


Festival organizers will launch a new program April 15 called CIFF Streams, an in-home service that gives subscribers access to many of the feature and short films that were slated to be part of this year’s Cleveland International Film Festival line-up. The streaming service will run until Tuesday night, April 28. Individual films can be screened online for $8, while an all-access pass to view all of the films will cost $75.


CIFF Streams will be available on clevelandfilm.org/ciffstreams. About 100 feature films and 200 short films will be hosted on the platform, with new films added during the two-weeks run.


“We knew it was going to be a lot of work to go into it,” said Bill Guentzler, CIFF artistic director. “We had to essentially take apart the festival that never happened.”

Festival organizers released the trailer promoting the film festival last month, which originally would have marked opening night. The film trailer was created by Fusion Filmworks and features a signature song Miles to Go from Cleveland-area musicians Astronomer and Jul Big Green. The trailer can be found at clevelandfilm.org.


The virtual film festival also will feature new podcast episodes of a series called CIFF Speaks. The hosts will talk film, do some prize giveaways and interview special guests to explain the film selections. The pod casts can be found at clevelandfilm.org/ciffspeaks or podcast providers.


The streaming service may help CIFF offset what will be the organization’s biggest deficit in its history, having already paid for the entire 2020 edition of the film festival when it was canceled March 11. Even next year’s move to Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland likely will have some coronavirus-related considerations to it when planning begins in May.


CIFF organizers admit those plans will remain tentative, because as COVID-19 concerns extend beyond the current “new normal,” there could be a changing face to what modern cinema and movie-going could look like.




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Revised: 04/14/20 20:11:42 -0700.




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