It's a movie lover's paradise

What’s so great about Cleveland? The Cleveland International Film Festival, that’s what! It’s a movie buff’s "pig heaven." This annual event presents more than 300 films from about 80 countries -- feature films, documentaries, short subjects, and more -- during its 10-day run.

From the festival’s early days, 34 years ago at our own neighborhood Cedar Lee Theatre, the event has grown to more than 71,000 passionate attendees this year, breaking all previous records.

I could feel the excitement in the air and it was contagious. Everyone there loves movies, and I felt I was among friends. It’s common to strike up conversations with total strangers while waiting for the movie to begin: "What else have you seen?" (It’s not a pick-up line . . . or maybe it is.)

It’s an amazing experience, and only a 15-minute ride on the Rapid from Shaker Square.

The festival’s outstanding and tireless staff, and scores of dedicated volunteers, work hard to ensure that everything runs smoothly -- and it does. Although many films sell out quickly, we learned that 95 percent of people holding standby tickets get in to see their movie.

My favorites this year were Cow, Mid-August Lunch, Handsome Harry, and the documentaries No Crossover: The Trial of Alan Iverson and Fire in the Heartland. My husband added Journey from Zanskar and Hipsters to that list.

But if you can’t wait until next March, there’s a terrific year-round "festival" at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. That’s where you can see films you may have missed, films you want to see again, and films you just can't see anywhere else. Free parking is always available in the lot adjacent to CIA. Aren’t we lucky to live in Greater Cleveland!

Jewel Moulthrop moved to the Heights three years ago and is still excited about lake-effect snowfalls.

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Volume 3, Issue 5, Posted 9:29 AM, 04.14.2010