Sunday, April 3, 2011

Paul is Shocked and George Wows 'em: Report from the Cleveland International Film Festival

Post-screening panel discussion at the Tower City Cinemas.
Festival report by co-director Paul Mariano
Suzanne and I flew to Cleveland on Friday to attend the 35th Cleveland International Film Festival for screenings of These Amazing Shadows on Saturday, April 2nd and Sunday, April 3rd. The star of our doc, George Willeman (from the Packard Campus - Library of Congress) with family in tow, met us in Cleveland to be part of a panel discussion on Saturday. The screenings were occurring at Tower City Cinemas located in the the Terminal Tower. [In case you're curious, Tower City was built in 1927 as the Cleveland Union Terminal, a railroad hub similar to New York City's Grand Central Station.  The Terminal Tower stood as the tallest building in North America outside New York until 1964. Its observation deck was originally intended to be used by Goodyear for dirigible travel between Cleveland and New York.]

Tower Terminal in downtown Cleveland.
On Saturday, we took a break from the festival to visit and soak up the rockin' atmosphere at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It was a musical journey down memory lane, and well worth the visit. One of the current exhibits is the really great: Girls on Film: 40 Years of Women in Rock. As you can see below, I was very sad to leave.

Paul is sad to leave the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Saturday screening was fabulous. The audience was large, and expectations were high. After I made some opening comments about the movie, one of the festival coordinators asked me to accompany her to another theater. I was shocked to learn TAS was screening in two theaters simultaneously. There before me was a second theater filled with excited and expectant moviegoers. What a treat! Two theaters...two separate audiences...both watching These Amazing Shadows. As a famous Oscar winner once so unabashedly said, "They like us, they really, really like us!"

Grafton Nunes, John Ewing, George Willeman and Paul Mariano.
George and I were joined for a panel discussion after the screening by John Ewing of the Cleveland Museum of Art and Grafton Nunes of the Cleveland Institute of Art. The topic: "Is art worth preserving". John and Grafton love film...and loved TAS.

On Sunday, we learned that the total festival audience on Saturday was 11,100 people...the largest single day total in their 35 year history.  (By the way, the opening-day crowd at the Indians baseball game was only 9,000.) Was it just a coincidence that this all-time attendance record was set on the very day that TAS opened (in two theaters) at the festival? Hmmmm...

Tonight we attend the final screening of TAS, and then off to the Closing Night Reception for directors and executive producers. The staff of the festival has been wonderful...well-organized and extremely friendly. And the audiences have been extraordinary. They really like film here in Cleveland. Cleveland rocks!

Review by Clint O'Connor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

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