Fine Arts and Fest

38th Annual CIFF Opening Night Gala

Lisa Sanchez
Wednesday March 19th marked the beginning of the 38th Cleveland International Film Festival (casually known as CIFF), the premiere event for both independent and foreign films hosted in Cleveland's own Tower City Cinemas. The festival features an impressive array of films from around the world as well as a competitive swath of genres from rambunctious comedy to perspective-changing documentary.

The opening night film featured was "Not Another Happy Ending", a quirky, Scottish romantic comedy about a certain Jane Lockhart, a writer working on completing her second novel after the major success of her first work. She's stricken with writer's block about the last chapter and throughout the movie discovers her stasis comes from a combination of factors influencing her life, including her charming, if somewhat mean-spirited, French publisher Tom. "Not Another Happy Ending" features beautiful Scottish scenery, a lively soundtrack, and a few laughs in between.

One of the appeals of the CIFF is the ability for the audience to communicate and understand the artistic direction of the director and cast. The director of "Not Another Happy Ending", John McKay, spoke briefly before the film screening. The director commented on the similarities that existed between Cleveland and Glasgow, where "Not Another Happy Ending" was predominantly filmed. "The weather is somewhat cloudy and rainy there as well, and we also used to make things," said McKay, which elicited an understanding laugh from the Cleveland audience. McKay went on to introduce the film, "This is a light movie. This is not a film that digs into the lower depth of the human soul."
Director John McKay on the set of "Not Another Happy Ending" with star Karen Gillan. (
After the screening, everyone made their way to Post Office Plaza for the official opening night gala. Post Office Plaza is a stunning, marble-layered chamber with arched entryways and gilded signs. It appears as if it were solely built to house the CIFF patrons. The walls were lined with sparking wine glasses and a delectable array of canap├ęs and snacks. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the gala was far less stuffy than I had expected, in fact, it felt just like one big party complete with a funny photo booth and dance floor.

Everyone in attendance was in good spirits, eagerly discussing the film they had just watched or leafing through the CIFF movie program planning their next movie-going adventures. The atmosphere was electric with people celebrating the arrival of the film festival and celebrating the vibrancy of Cleveland in general.

The opening night screening opened the floodgates for the events to come during the film festival's 12-day run. All of the helpful volunteers and organizers for this year's CIFF literally rolled out the red carpet for arriving patrons and eager moviegoers. Tickets for films range from about $12-$14 dollars, and weekday screenings begin at noon. With an impressive onslaught of 350 films, the 38th Cleveland International Film Festival makes it hard for any film buff not to find something that piques their interest.

Don't forget to use the promo code ALTOH when you purchase tickets online. And be sure to visit throughout the festival for updates on showtimes as well as late entries and cancellations.

Click here for full coverage of the 38th Annuall CIFF