Reel talk: Three Cleveland film festivals that you need to bookmark right now

As Cleveland gears up for the 43rd Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF43)Ohio’s largest film festival—moviegoers have many other opportunities to see the work of Northeast Ohio filmmakers on the silver screen in March.


From adrenaline-fueled adventure films to shorts by local artists to Oscar-winning documentaries on the Black experience, these three events will fuel Clevelanders’ creativity and inspiration over the coming weeks.

Short. Sweet. Film Fest

Short. Sweet. Film Fest: The Short. Sweet. Film Fest. takes its moniker seriously. Each of the 118 films in the festival—carefully selected out of nearly 450 submissions—is under 30 minutes long, making for a true celebration of the Cleveland short filmmaking community.


Short. Sweet. Film Fest
Dates: March 1-3
Location: Alex Theater at The 9


The festival kicks off on Friday, March 1, with a "Local Filmmakers Night," and continues throughout the weekend with screenings, educational seminars from local luminaries, and table reads of winning screenplays from SSFF’s recent screenplay competition. All of the festival’s networking and social events, seminars, and table reads are free and open to the public. (Click here to see the full schedule.)


The featured short films span a range of genres, from horror and animation to documentaries, music videos, drama, comedy, and LGBTQ. In addition, SSFF is a “half-local” festival, meaning that half the selections were filmed in the greater Cleveland area or made by native Clevelanders.


According to local director and filmmaking instructor Michael Suglio, the festival staff is dedicated to producing an "experience-focused" celebration of short films that Clevelanders won’t forget. Says Suglio, “We want filmmakers, aspiring filmmakers, and film lovers to have the opportunity to experience short films they may never [otherwise] have an opportunity to see in a relaxed and unique environment at the Alex Theater at the Metropolitan at the 9.”


No Man’s Land Film Festival (NMLFF): Down for breaking barriers, taking names, and pursuing adventure? There’s a Cleveland film festival for that.


No Man's Land Film Festival
Date: March 7
Location: Capitol Theatre


Based out of Carbondale, Colorado, the roving No Man’s Land Film Festival (NMLFF) will come to Cleveland for the first time on March 7. The all-women adventure film festival “celebrates the full scope of woman-identified athletes and adventurers, looking to undefine what it means to be a woman in adventure, sport, and film. NMLFF champions women with grit, hustle, determination, and boundless passion,” according to Tasmin Andres, chapter leader of Mappy Hour Cleveland.


To that end, NMLFF’s 12 short films are all focused on women’s sports—from rock climbing and skiing to mountain biking and running. The showing is 90 minutes long with a brief intermission.


A still from featured film The SpringIf you’re involved in Cleveland’s outdoor community, this festival will make you feel like a kid in a candy store. NMLFF is presented by three local organizations, including Mappy Hour Cleveland, Green Girl Gang, and Hear Her Sports.


Bells Brewing will be offering local beers at a discount, and local adventurers can enjoy gear giveaways from Osprey, Organic Climbing, Evolv, SCARPA, and more. After the 7 p.m. screening, Hear Her Sports will host a panel about women’s sports and outdoor adventures in the Midwest.


Racial Equity & Inclusion Film Series: Hosted by the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, Cleveland’s ongoing Racial Equity & Inclusion Film Series covers crucial issues affecting local, regional, national, and even international communities of color.


Racial Equity & Inclusion Film Series
Date: March 13 (along with other dates in coming months)
Capitol Theatre

The series invites Cleveland residents to come together for screenings, reflection, open dialogue, and productive conversations about difficult issues around diversity. Topics covered by the chosen films include police brutality, education, parenthood, hot-button political issues, the arts, and continued social inequities.


This month’s screening, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, tells the story of two African-American men from rural Alabama. One becomes a father, while the other attends college in search of a brighter future. Recently nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Academy Award, the film is a poignant exploration of triumph and disappointment, inequality, and life’s everyday beauty.


Racial Equity & Inclusion Film Series screenings are held in the Gordon Square Arts District with a suggested donation of $5. Talkbacks—where audience members get together for food and conversation about the films—take place afterward at XYZ the Tavern.

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