Mark Stolaroff is an independent producer and the founder of No Budget Film School, a series of classes specifically designed for the no-budget filmmaker. His most recent project, the self-financed low-budget feature film Pig written and directed by Henry Barrial, recently played a string of festivals–13 in only six weeks. He personally attended eight of those festivals in four weeks. Mark graciously agreed to take some photos and write up articles about this series of film festivals for The Weird Review. For more about Mark check out the links at the end of his article. Here is his report on the Cleveland International Film Festival.
With 36 years under their belt and an incredibly supportive community of businesses and film fans, the Cleveland International Film Festival is one well-oiled machine. You can measure the effectiveness of a film festival like that of a baseball player. There are those players who can hit for average, those who can hit with power, those with speed on the bases, those with terrific gloves, and those who can throw. Someone who can do it all is considered a 5 Tool Player. For festivals, these equivalent tools might include flying you in and putting you up; throwing awesome parties and feeding you; providing a quality screening facility; giving you access to industry (press, buyers, other fest programmers); and delivering an audience. Cleveland excels at most of these, but especially, and most importantly, they bring the audience, which in my experience, is where many 3- and 4-tool festivals fall short.
My film Pig played three times, all to large audiences. We’re talking about a 2pm Wednesday screening of a micro-budget film with no stars playing to a nearly sold-out audience in a big auditorium. This is practically unheard of except in the hallowed halls of festivals like Sundance, Toronto, and SXSW. You realize once you’re there that people in this part of Ohio LOVE movies, and the festival delivers the goods to this audience, screening over 160 feature films! (Sundance screens about 120 features.) Many of these films are foreign-language, making Cleveland somewhat akin to Palm Springs, and the two festivals’ audiences are equally willing to view 30 or 40 movies during their fests’ runs.
Cleveland’s operation is headquartered in the Tower City Cinemas, located inside the Tower City Center, a beautiful beaux-arts complex built in the 1920’s that includes the Terminal Tower, the tallest building in the country outside of New York City from its completion in 1930 until 1964. The festival takes over most of the cinemas in the multiplex, running up to eight films at one time. The well-stocked filmmakers’ lounge is in a large room connected to the Ritz Carleton Hotel, also in the same complex. Free food and drinks (but no booze) are available all day, as well as opportunities to meet fellow filmmakers and also festival patrons. But Cleveland would be nothing without it’s terrific staff. People like Guest Relations guru Lauren Chapman are there to make your festival experience all that it can be. Cleveland is one of the few regional festivals that can spring for travel and accommodations for all of it’s filmmakers. Festival director Bill Guentzler has assembled a stellar team here and carries on in the fine tradition of this stately festival.
“PIG” – A FILM BY HENRY BARRIAL
“Highly recommended! Along the lines of Nolan’s Memento.” – The Horror Zine
“A brilliant sci-fi thriller…the most
provocative film I saw at the Palm Springs Film
Festival.” – Desert Star Weekly
OFFICIAL SELECTION AT OVER 30 FILM FESTIVALS
WINNER! BEST FEATURE FILM – SCI-FI-LONDON
WINNER! BEST FEATURE, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST SCREENPLAY – ATHENS SCI-FI
WINNER! BEST SCI-FI FEATURE – SHRIEKFEST
WINNER! BEST SCI-FI FEATURE – PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER! BEST FEATURE FILM – THRILLER! CHILLER!
WINNER! BEST SCI-FI FEATURE – SHOCKERFEST
WINNER! BEST EDITING – BOSTON SCI-FI
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