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
for a listing of past CIFF film alums that are now available
“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
“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,
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
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
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
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.