This year, for various reasons (aka extremely busy schedules) B and I only had time to fit in 2 films at the festival. We opted for two pick-me-ups, or at least humorous/happy films (so often we see somewhat upsetting or more educational movies when we go to film festivalst) which proved to be a good choice. The films were both different from one another yet both absolutely incredible, however, so I wanted to share some info about them with you in case you have an opportunity to see them! AND since the festival is not over (it ends the 30th) so you have some time to catch some films yourself!
Hopeless Hopeful (La Espera Desespera)
The film opens when Jorge, a pretty ordinary guy, learns that his wife Lisa is in need of a life-saving heart surgery – and a surgery he can by no means afford. Yes, I said we saw humorous/happy films – and I promise you this movie is just that. Because Jorge decides to go about getting the money in a somewhat funny way – robbing a bank. Check out the trailer:
This movie is playing TONIGHT so you should definitely go see it if you haven’t been to the festival already.
The Ballad of Shovels and Rope
This movie follows the story of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, husband and wife duo that formed the band Shovels and Rope. I had never heard of the band – but I guess they’re pretty well known in the Americana music circle – so it was fun watch where they came from, how they started playing with one another and watch them put together an album. Oh yeah, and the music was good too!
Some questions for you:
Do you watch independent or foreign films? Any favorites? One of my favorites still from a past festival was Primos. Such a fun, humorous Spanish-language film!
Subtitles or dubbing for foreign films? Subtitles all the way! I much prefer to listen to the natural language. But it makes it hard to multitask during a movie.
What was the last movie you saw?
What are you looking forward to this weekend?
Clevelanders- have you been to CIFF yet? Which movies have you seen?
I’m always surprised by how many people complain that there’s nothing to do in Cleveland, yet don’t go out and DO anything or check out any of the cool things that are actually happening! A prime example of one of those amazing things to do that happens every year around this time is the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF)!
The Cleveland International Film Festival promotes artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition to enrich the life of the community.
In other words, we present the newest and best films from around the world, and we do everything in our power to make sure that our audience learns something along the way – about other cultures, about the topic at hand, about the experience from the filmmakers themselves.
Why do I like CIFF?
Because I can walk about a hundred feet and be at the movie theater and swept away to foreign countries, introduced to new themes, and of course, there’s always the popcorn and other movie theater treats. I really do love sitting in a theater, and learning so much about a new culture, a new topic, or even just a new person. Here’s my review from last year’s festival.
Why should you check out CIFF?
There really is a movie in there for everyone. I know, sometimes people hear “independent film festival” and think “you mean I have to watch a sad movie that makes me think about my life?” or think “you mean I have to read subtitles?” THIS IS NOT TRUE. There are movies about gangs. Movies in English about all the cool things happening in cities around the U.S. Short films so even if you don’t have the attention span required to sit through a 1-2 hour movie you can watch a series of shorts!
SO, what have I seen so far? And what do I think?
Live Action Shorts
I am typically a fan of shorts because of the varying lengths, topics, genres, etc. This grouping was pretty good – not all of them were my favorite, but that’s the point of seeing a series of shorts. Some you like, some you don’t! The ones I didn’t really like will remain nameless … but I DID really like Sandbox. Very cute!
My rating? 3.5 / 5
Were The World Mine
Don’t tell the director of the movie I said this, but imagine this as an early look at what Glee The Movie could be. Plus some magic. And that’s this. I saw don’t tell the director, because he actually spoke to the audience after the movie and talked about how they had pitched the movie as a TV show before making the movie and was rejected, so they made it clear that the movie was B.G. (before Glee).
My rating? 4.5 / 5
I really really liked this! I had no idea what to expect and found the movie interesting and funny at times. AND I could (for the most part) actually understand what they were saying, despite my usual issue with comprehending British accents.
My rating? 4.5 / 5
(sorry you’ll have to watch the preview for this actually on YouTube)
Red, White and Blueprints
The overall message in the film was good. It was an optimistic look at the movement happening in Rust Belt Cities (Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, St. Louis, Buffalo) and showcased a few of the people in these cities and what they were doing to help make change happen. They even featured the Cleveland Colectivo, an organization I’ve been trying to learn more about. I saw the movie with one of my City Advocate friends (Naturally!), Laura, and after the movie we sat in on a film forum where the director and a few local civically engaged people were interviewed. Laura and I grabbed drinks after the movie and talked about its strengths (the overall message) and weaknesses (the film’s editing and lack of actual call to action – the director even admitted at the talk afterwards that it was just a piece of propaganda). Thanks, Laura for the movie tickets 🙂
My rating? 4 / 5 (I’m all for a feel good “yay cleveland” movie anytime!)
Tonight, B and I are going to see another movie, and then hopefully some more this weekend. My goal was to beat my 5 movie streak last year, and I’m well on my way! AND you should be too – I highly recommend you GET YOURSELF TO TOWER CITY and check out some films before the festival is over!
Some thoughts to ponder:
For Clevelanders – what’s your favorite CIFF film thus far this year?
Have you been to CIFF or another film festival before? What’s your favorite thing about film festivals?
Do you like foreign films? Why / why not? Do you have a favorite?
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I’m not talking about the holidays or Christmas (but those are wonderful times of year as well) – but I’m talking about the time of year when downtown and Tower City comes alive with activity – when people who don’t normally make the trip downtown spend hours at a time strolling around – when it’s socially acceptable to sit for hours in the dark and eating popcorn. The Cleveland International Film Festival!
Each year, B and I see one or two films. This year, now that we’re finally living downtown, we got to see even more! We saw 5 total, but I would’ve loved to see a few more. One of these years we are going to get a pass and take off of work and see all the movies we want – but until then, five movies in one week will have to do. Here’s a quick review and summary of the films we opted to see. DISCLAIMER: I was not paid to see or review any of these films. I’m also not a professional film critic (far from it!) so take these as the opinions of an average mid-late 20-something female.
If a Bank Burglar Hall of Fame is ever built, it has to be placed in Collinwood, OH. The Cleveland neighborhood is home to some of the U.S.’s most prolific and daring bank robbers of all time—the most famous of whom is Phil Christopher, who pulled off a bank job in Laguna Niguel, California for a record-setting $30 million in 1972. SUPERTHIEF is a documentary about the men who put together one of the most enterprising and remarkable bank burglaries of all time, as well as the men tasked with bringing the crooks to justice …
Overall it was a good, entertaining film. Kind of like Ocean’s 11 meets that History Channel show, I (Almost) Got Away With it. The Northeast Ohio connection made the film even more enjoyable. It was fun to hear from Phil Christopher himself bout how he committed the crime, the mistakes he made that got him caught, and where he is now. It was also amusing to hear from the police officers and other enforcement that were interviewed – any of them spoke very highly of him, almost as if he weren’t a convicted criminal.
SACRIFICE, an adaptation of Orphan of Zhao (the first Chinese opera to become known in Europe), dominated Chinese theaters upon its release and is sure to impress American viewers with its dramatic performances, alluring ancient Chinese scenery and absorbing Shakespearean plot. It is a complex tale of betrayals and revenge, as the jealous court official Tu Angu (Wang Xueqi) seeks to eradicate his prosperous enemies, the Zhao clan. Weaving together traps, poisons, sword fights, and all out warfare, Tu almost succeeds with his devious schemes, but the upright physician Cheng Ying (Ge You) has mercy on the infant child carrying the last remaining Zhao blood …
Meh. It wasn’t a bad film – in fact the first hour or so captivated me as I got a great look into ancient China. I think any fan of Chinese films, especially those that involve fighting, would appreciate the film. I have never been a fan of the genre, however so I don’t think I’m the right audience. B enjoyed the action and I liked viewing the beautiful scenery.
Neal is a good guy pushed too far in MISSED CONNECTIONS, a comedic romance for today’s internet savvy dating scene. He’s recovering from a gruesome breakup and a banal job, but rather than confront his problems head on, with the help of some loyal friends Neal finds the perfect distraction on the Craigslist Missed Connections page. Lonely women write posts describing details of chance encounters, a little eye contact, or a passing glance that could have been their knight in shining armor, only he got away. Now they are hoping he’s searching the same internet back pages. What could be easier than swooping in to the rescue as a woman awaits a date who you know won’t show …
I really enjoyed this film. I’ve been a fan of Craigslist’s Missed Connections for years (come on, don’t tell me you haven’t scrolled through the pages just to see who was writing what, and to whom?) and it was fun to see a movie about the site. The characters were likeable, and relatable, and the plotline followed that of a predictable romantic comedy. If you’re looking for something, light, funny and entertaining, this is it.
COUSINHOOD is an American-style bromantic comedy with an added dash of Spanish cojones. It’s the story of three party dudes, loyal cousins who have each other’s backs. When thirtysomething Diego is left standing at the altar, macho Julian has a remedy for his broken heart. They begin by drowning their sorrows and dragging their cousin José Miguel to the seaside town where they grew up. A boozy summer festival is in full swing, where they revel with childhood friends and begin reconnecting with local traditions. Diego rediscovers his attraction to lovely Martina, who lives in his former house. Julian finds that his old friend is now the town drunk and the father of a sultry prostitute. José Miguel, a hypochondriac perpetually out of his comfort zone, bonds with Martina’s young son over their mutual fears. As a new day dawns for these endearing buffoons, it looks like they might be growing up in spite of themselves.
You MUST see this film. If you’re looking for a hilarious, heartwarming movie that is entertaining for girls, and guys, here it is. It had me laughing, and crying (from laughing so hard) at parts. Seriously- any film that has cute Spanish men singing the Backstreet Boys is a winner in my book. It’s the best comedy I’ve seen since Bridesmaids and I’m not just counting international films, I mean best comedy out of all movies.
Rutger Hauer gives one of the most intense and powerful performances of his long career in this Dutch film based on true events from 1983. Hauer plays Alfred Heineken, president of Heineken International and heir to the family’s beer fortune. When Heineken gets kidnapped by four young men, he must bide his time in a small cell hoping his company and family pay the ransom. One of the kidnappers, Rem Humbrechts, has plans of his own and they involve revenge. An incredibly intense and dark crime thriller, THE HEINEKEN KIDNAPPING grabs you from the very beginning and doesn’t let go of its grip. Brilliantly directed by Maarten Treurniet, what begins as a caper film quickly becomes a film of deep-seeded vengeance. After being released, Heineken must deal with the trauma of his ordeal and the only way to get the horrors out of his head is to see them extinguished.
I was pleasantly surprised with the movie (even though the word “pleasant” hardly belongs in a review of this intense movie) – I had seen a cleveland.com review of the film beforehand and wasn’t expecting much. Despite some slow parts, the movie held my attention and kept me on edge the entire time. I was so involved with the film, I ended up peeling off all the nail polish from my nails – that’s how insense it was!