Cleveland International Film Festival
Held in mid to late March, the Cleveland International Film Festival is probably not what some call a "destination festival" such as similar-timed events that take place in warmer climates, but what the festival lacks in high temperatures, it makes up for in hospitality and eager audiences.As Ohio's premier film event and a leading U.S. regional film festival, CIFF features around 140 feature films from almost 60 countries, with a particular emphasis on films from Central and Eastern Europe, which has its own competition section. While not an industry or market event, it serves a strong, loyal local Ohio audience, many of whom take vacation during the festival dates to attend sold-out screenings. An unusual corollary to the audience's enthusiasm is the relative lack of a party atmosphere to the festival - while the Closing Night draws a huge crowd, it disperses almost immediately after the awards ceremony wraps up - a marked contrast to other film festivals. CIFF gives prizes for Best Documentary, Best Central & Eastern European film, the Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Film Competition, which honors "films of conscience," as well as audience prizes. In 2009, the festival counted 67,000 attendees, defying the economic downturn with an increase of 27% from the previous year.