Fine Arts and Fests

Cleveland International Film Festival Closing Ceremony 2016

Nick Lotz​

It’s 9:30 p.m. and I’m pretty pissed off. I have somehow managed to lose my media pass for CIFF 40 on the very last day, guaranteeing in my plebeian mind that I will not be able to cover the epic closing ceremony that I have convinced myself will be the start of my new, epic love life, my new, epic film making career, and pretty much everything in between those two things.

I log onto the CIFF website and see that they are live tweeting the event, adding copious amounts of salt to the festering wound on my ego. I scroll through, seeing live music, beautiful women, free drinks, networking opportunities with accomplished filmmakers; essentially anything that I could possibly ever want from a film festival after party. I later find out that there were over one hundred thousand people in attendance, which is a new CIFF record.

After much whining and deliberating, I decide to drive up anyways, convincing my brother, a fellow by the name of Ian Lotz, to accompany me. He doesn’t know that he’s coming along mainly to pay for parking, but I assure him that it will be a rockin’ good time anyways in order to soothe my slowly building sense of guilt and dread.

I make the long drive to Cleveland, an event I’ve grown accustomed to over the past week, driving haphazardly, weaving back and forth from lane to lane in order to arrive with the most amount of time possible to enjoy what will undoubtedly be a hedonistic affair akin to some kind of modern Sodom and Gomorrah.

When I finally arrive, it comes to me, “Que nadie sepa mi sufrir,” I say to Ian.
Ian says, “I don’t speak Spanish.”
“It’s the name of a song that’s been stuck in my head.”
“Oh,” he says, clearly extremely disinterested.
“It means "‘How no one knows my suffering,'” I say.
“Are we going inside?” he puts out his cigarette.
We walk in, glorious as we are, with our faded hipster haircuts. I am a seasoned CIFF member at this point. I saw eight films and have a media pass. As such, I ascend the escalator and hear a cacophony of cheering similar to the kind heard at a Roman gladiatorial event, I am utterly unsurprised. This kind of reception is the least they could offer.
​Finally, I reach the top, and walk into Tower City to find who must be the festival chairperson giving a speech expressing her gratitude for the exceptional volunteers and staff who helped make this wonderful festival happen. I strain my ears to listen, but never hear my name mentioned. Oh great Zeus! What a cruel joke you hath played on me!

I stand in a stupor, gazing at the purple lights enveloping the stage, feeling rather shell-shocked by the awesomeness of the whole thing as I come to terms with the fact that, despite my wicked credentials and epic job-risking eight film endeavor into the festival, I am still but a child in comparison to the gypsy like movie folk attending here who jump from here on to Sundance and Tribeca, pausing only to make films of their own to submit to a festival such as this. Such is life, I suppose.
The ceremony wraps rather quickly after I arrive. I scurry around with my brother, looking for free drinks, sex, anything to make our drive up to Cleveland more worthwhile in spite of my mess up. We find naught, but several cookies and free coffee, which we devour carefully, looking about so as to ensure we do not look like the lame-o’s who showed up at the very end for the baked goods.

After some morose wandering, we both make the decision to return home, and as I drive down 77 South to 480 East, I reflect on the festival, and what an amazing experiences it had been. For the reader, if you did not attend this year, I implore you to attend the 41st Cleveland International Film Festival. Festival films are hard to come by. Nine times out of ten, the only place to watch them is, well, a festival. However, I can say without a doubt that every single film I watched at CIFF 40 was of incredible quality, and never lacking in fun.
Bon voyage!