Cleveland International Film Festival 2011

The Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) is in it’s 35th year. The wife & I attended two of the “short film” programs last weekend.

The first one we saw was “program 2,” which had a delightful animated short of the children’s book “The Gruffalo,” and several other good films. One (“The holdup”) was kind of bad — it was like one of those SNL skits no one knows how to end. The slate opened and closed with pretty downbeat themes. I don’t know what ‘announced categories’ the the films are competing for apart from “audience favorite,” but I would guess “Best short film about dying of cancer” must be in the mix. Just saying.

The second set of films was “program 3,” and this had some excellent shorts as well. It started off with an uplifting, optimistic documentary about a devoted and energetic fifth grade teacher in a Cleveland elementary school who started a lunch club to help redirect girls who might otherwise be in trouble (“The girlfriend club”). A short action film, “Carjack,” was very professional and entertaining although the final scenes stretched credibility past the breaking point. This is par for action films but the film was otherwise fairly realistic so it was an odd way to end things. There were several very clever and funny films (“3 x3,” “Bob,” and “Drop dead”). The longer animated film in this set (“A lost and found box of human sensation”) kept up the cancer-film theme and also demonstrated just how much the film maker must love Tim Burton’s work. It was very competently put together but played like a college student’s senior thesis … much more self-important than it really had a right to be, IMO. The final film, “Picnic,” was a horrific short about a family picnicking in a forest in eastern Bosnia. I will just comment that this, along with “Habibi” from program 2, must be a serious contender for “Best land mine awareness film” and was probably the only film at the festival where a boy watches his father being eaten by a wolf.  (It actually  gets worse from there though.  A woman took her young daughters to this program, presumably on the assumption it would be as kid-friendly as the one with “The Gruffalo.”  Somehow the horror movie score did not signal her to remove her kids when this one started, but by the time the wolves showed up she did take them out. )

Maybe I’m just grumpy because I wasn’t able to catch “Black death,” which is playing next weekend and is very Swords & Dorkery oriented from what I can tell.  If you live near Cleveland it is well worth checking out the CIFF, which is playing through Sunday.

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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