Cleveland International Film Festival 2013

Chad W. Lutz
Beginning April 3, the Cleveland International Film Festival triumphantly returns to Tower City, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Daily highs sit nearly 20 degrees below expected annual averages, the skies are grey and brooding, and white stuff falls with regularity from the bleak and brutal landscapes above. With cold and unseasonably sinister weather bearing down on Northeast Ohio, it’s comforting to know that even though the weather outside might be frightful, the excitement indoors is cinematically delightful.

The event runs until April 14 and boasts a staggering 176 movies and dozens of short films from more than 60 nations worldwide. But with wide selection comes serious confliction. Film festivals like these prove every movie auteur’s worst nightmare. What to choose when you pit a beautifully shot and cinematically sound Arabic picture against a French film with exceptional character depth and plot development? Well, that’s where we come in. In partnership with the Cleveland International Film Festival, the AltOhio gang has put together a list of 10 intriguing cinematic adventures sure to at least get the mind stirring, if not provide exciting nights on the town or enjoyable afternoons downtown.
1.) Asad – South Africa/USA (2011)

Directed by Bryan Buckley
This short and brutal yet beautiful and heart-wrenching film follows a young boy named Asad who lives in a tiny seaside village in war-ravaged Somalia. The eighteen-minute picture tells the tale of the choice Asad must make that reminds us how harrowing life in the far reaches of the world can be, even for young boys. The film's trailer provides an awesome glimpse of the stark images and brooding cinematography used by Buckley that capture a nation decimated and the very real choices many young boys face in Somalia each and every day. The film features as part of Independent Shorts Program #7.

SHOWTIMES: April 7 @ 9:15am and April 8 @ 5:10pm

2.) I Am Divine – USA (2013)

Directed by Jeffrey Schwarz
Cult fans and documentary enthusiasts will not want to miss this monumental biopic delving into the life and times of one of the most outrageous human beings ever to walk the Earth. The story takes viewers through the life of Harris Glenn Milstead, otherwise known as Divine, America’s first drag darling, who embraced the counterculture of the 1960s a little more than others and rose to become one of Hollywood’s most formidable drag actors of the 1970s. Through interviews with friends, colleagues and family members, I Am Divine offers a glimpse into a flash and bang glamour-driven lifestyle cut short by an early and unexpected death at the age of 42. Warning: you may leave the theater feeling fabulous.

SHOWTIMES: April 13 @ 9:15pm and April 14 @ 2:30pm

3.) Yuma – Poland/Czech Republic (2012)

Directed by Piotr Mularuk
The cast serves up campy laughs and gritty lessons in crime in Piotr Mularuk’s full-length feature Yuma about a young man who grows comfortable in a life of smuggling and seduction on the fringes of Eastern Europe. Obsessed with the 1950s classic 3:10 to Yuma, the main character, Zyga, emulates the Spaghetti Western cowboys of yesteryear’s era and must walk a fine line in order to keep himself ahead of trouble and above ground in the Polish underworld. Did I mention his mother operates a brothel and the mayor is in on it?

SHOWTIMES: April 9 @ 11:30am, April 11 @ 11:30am and April 12 @ 6:15pm

4.) Childish Games – Spain (2012)

Directed by Antonio Chavarrías
It’s been years since Mario and Daniel’s sister met an untimely death. Does it matter that the boys coerced her into the situation that ultimately leads to her demise? Mario seems to think so. Stricken by the loss of his sister Clara, Mario commits suicide when his newly adopted daughter reminds him of his deceased sibling. Daniel inherits the young child named Julia and begins to wonder the same. Even his mother suspects Julia might be Clara reincarnate. Strange and unnerving events unfold that force Daniel to confront the past in ways he never wanted and never imagined possible.
Haunting from the very start, director Antonio Chavarrías commands the helms in this chilling film from Spain. Hailed by many as one of the must-see films of 2012, horror fans should definitely circle their calendars to check out Childish Games this year at the Cleveland International Film Festival. Creepy children make every horror movie that much scarier, don’t you think?

SHOWTIMES: April 11 @ 11:40am, April 13 @ 11:20pm and April 14 @ 11:20am

5.) The Interviewer – Australia (2012)

Directed by Genevieve Clay and Robin Bryan
Starring Gerard Odwyer, Winston Cooper and Chris Haywood, The Interviewer turns the tables on father-son businessmen interviewing a young man with Down syndrome. The short film plays as part of Independent Shorts Program #12 and showcases the often-cruel nature of the business world and how an unexpected hero like Thomas Howell (Winston Cooper) can rise above it.

SHOWTIMES: April 12 @ 12:00pm and April 13 @ 12:15pm

6.) 99% - USA (2013)

Directed by Audrey Ewell, Aaron Aites, Lucian Read and Nina Krstic
Filmed by a force of more than 100 film collaborators, 99% shows the Occupy Movement like never seen before. Join principal filmmakers Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites, along with countless others, as they capture the tenacity, drama and groundswell of one of the largest and most volatile movements in American history. The film informs and entertains and takes audiences from the initial battlegrounds of Wall St. to Oakland, California, and dozens of other cities across the United States. If anything else, 99% promises to be an eye-opener and perhaps one of the best documentaries at the Cleveland International Film Festival this year.

SHOWTIMES: April 9 @ 2:20pm and April 10 @ 9:20pm

7.) Red, White and Blueprints: A Rust-Belt Documentary – USA (2013)

Directed by Jack Storey
Ohio, our glory days may be closer than we think. Another documentary must-see, especially for Ohioans, Red, White and Blueprints: A Rust-Belt Documentary chronicles the resurgence of several Midwest cities and the steps taken to gentrify once vibrant and thriving metropolis landscapes. Cleveland-born director Storey takes to the streets to capture one of America’s most unique regions and highlights legislation, businesses and community projects in cities spanning from Buffalo to St. Louis and breeds a sense of hope and turnaround, both emotional and economical, for the area in the coming years.

Many of the efforts captured by the film showcase measures taken by Saving Cities, which operates under direction of Storey and promotes activism and revitalization throughout Rust Belt communities. Moviegoers catching the Wednesday, April 10 showing also enjoy the treat of an interactive film forum that allows audience members to actively engage one another in relevant topics of social and economical interest pressing the area. Cleveland International Film Festival patrons also enjoy a treat with the April 11 showing taking place at the Akron Art Museum. A short, 39-minute film, Dancing With The Trees, capturing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina directly precedes the film.

SHOWTIMES: April 9 @ 7:10pm, April 10 @ 4:05pm and April 11 @ 6:30pm

8.) Paradise Trilogy – Austria/Germany/France (2012/2013)

Directed by Ulrich Seidl

The Paradise Trilogy consists of separate but conjoined tales of three women in the same family who embark on very different journeys in life. Each film has received international acclaim alone, with Paradise: Faith featuring prominently at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.
The first installment in the Paradise storyline begins with Paradise: Love (2012) at a Kenyan resort where an unsettled Teresa is on vacation celebrating a friend’s 50th birthday. Intentions become distorted when Teresa takes an interest in the local male sex trade. The movie examines sexuality in a raw and real way and shows what temptation and desire have the ability to do to those not yet ready to handle the responsibility of readily available promiscuity at flat, affordable rates.

SHOWTIMES: April 7 @ 2:10pm and April 9 @ 6:10pm
The second film in the trilogy, Paradise: Faith (2012), examines Teresa’s sister Anna (featured, precariously, above) and her struggles with religion and acceptance in the modern world. She’s faced to come to terms with her beliefs after an accident leaves her husband, a devout Muslim, permanently disabled and completely in her care. Paradise: Faith exposes where one might draw the line between faith and compulsion, obsession and sanctimonious ritual and provides stunning imagery along the way.

SHOWTIMES: April 7 @ 4:45pm and April 10 @ 6:50pm
Cinematic finale to the aforementioned Paradise: Love and Paradise: Faith, Paradise: Hope (2013) guides audiences through the visceral struggles of Teresa’s daughter and Anna’s niece Melanie as she fails to find her footing or any sort of fun while attending a summer weight-loss camp. A sexually frustrated Melanie soon becomes infatuated with the camp director and a whirlwind of allure, seduction and inadequacy ensues. Director Ulrich Seidl calls upon the same striking and vivid imagery to tell the tale of hope few filmmakers have been able to capture like this before.

SHOWTIMES: April 7 @ 7:15pm and April 11 @ 6:30pm

9.) Route of the Moon – Panama/Ecuador (2012)

Directed by Juan Sebastián Jácome
Tito enjoys the background noise of bowling alleys and taking his time no matter the occasion. Cesar, who has an impending heart ailment, likes constant motion and spontaneity. In Route of the Moon, Cesar and Tito find each other locked in a 13-hour car ride from each other’s Hell filled with hitchhikers, unexpected detours and wacky, character-driven laughs and entertainment. The film centers on the trivial importance of the human ego and how two people so different can still find common ground.

SHOWTIMES: April 5 @ 9:20am, April 8 @ 4:20pm and April 9 @ 9:00pm

10.) A Tooth Tale – USA (2012)

Directed by Ron Fleischer
Because we’re equal opportunity here at and realize many of our readers have young children of their own, we’ve included an animated short about a young boy who devises the capture of the tooth fairy after he learns she carries around a fat wallet as our tenth highlighted film. Six-year old Tommy and A Tooth Tale pay homage to the classic 1950s and 1960s era animation and offer a brief but fun short film for the whole family. A Tooth Tale sits as part of the Independent Shorts Program #8 and Family Shorts Program #2.

SHOWTIMES: April 8 @ 9:10am, April 9 @ 5:00pm and April 13 @ 2:40pm

Alright, there you have it: our list of intriguing films sure to offer entertainment and assuredly capture the imagination. will be present at Tower City Cinemas throughout the film festival. Look for our banner in the cinemas lobby and follow us on Facebook for chances to win pairs of vouchers redeemable for movie tickets March 25 thru April 2.

This year we invite you to Be The Applause. Come make memories and watch select films from around the world with question and answer forums with directors, actors, writers and producers. Tickets are on sale now at

For Your Cinema!