greater cleveland urban film festival debuts at shaker square

The Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival (GCUFF) debuts this weekend at Shaker Square Cinemas. The new festival aims to showcase African-American and African films from Cleveland and around the world, introduce film to young people, and educate young people about career options in the industry.

"We want our audience to see that there are great films by black people, and also that Cleveland has produced a bevy of talent. There will be films shown here that don't get shown elsewhere," says Neal Hodges, an actor and writer who lives in the Shaker Square neighborhood and serves as the festival's Artistic Director. "We'll also be hosting a panel discussion to encourage young people to get into the film industry, and we'll discuss how to get your project onto the big screen."

Hodges first came up with the idea of creating a black film festival in Cleveland after visiting similar festivals in other cities. He created the Black Cinema Cafe in 2000 to showcase black independent films in various venues around Cleveland. Hodges says the GUCFF is a grassroots effort organized primarily by seven hardworking volunteers. The events is sponsored by the Society for Urban Professionals (SOUP), an African-American young professionals group.

Hodges says the festival is here to stay and will become a mainstay event in Cleveland's cultural landscape. He hopes to attract a diverse audience.

Source: Neal Hodges
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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