PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Drew’s Review’s spotlight on the annual Cleveland International Film Festival (March 27 – April 7)

Drew Moniot (“Drew’s Reviews on Pittsburgh Today Live)

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Photo Credit: Carrie Moniot

For years and years, I’ve been spreading the word about the Cleveland International Film Festival to movie fans here in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. If you love movies, you will love the Cleveland International Film festival, also known as CIFF.

CIFF 43 marks the 43rd year of the festival and things are gearing up for another 12 days of movies you won’t want to miss. CIFF 43 will showcase 213 feature films, 237 short films, 15 virtual reality films and 3 interactive media projects. Something for everyone.

And, by the way, this truly is an international film festival with entries from 71 countries.

Here’s your opportunity to see some great movies that you would not see elsewhere. Every year, the mix includes foreign films, documentaries, independent films, and short films; in general, movies that you would have to attend other major film festivals like Sundance, or Toronto to see. The beauty here is that Cleveland is only about two hours away. You can make it a movie-filled day-long road trip or stay a couple of nights and really indulge your inner movie junkie.

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As always, much of the festival takes place at Cleveland’s Tower City Cinemas located right downtown and adjacent to some fine hotels. The Renaissance is actually attached to Tower City Center, so you never have to even walk outside to get to many of the screenings. Over 450 screenings will take place there. Ample parking is available.

This year, screenings will also be held off site in other theater venues. You just need to check the official schedule online for details.

I can tell you from personal experience that this is an annual movie event that you don’t want to miss. I’ve been attending for several decades now and can report that it just keeps getting better and better. In addition to the screenings, there are opportunities to meet filmmakers who are invited each year. Following their screenings, audience members can stay and participate in some lively Q&A sessions with directors, producers, actors and actresses. All told, there will be over 300 guest filmmakers at this year’s festival.

I’m a huge fan of CIFF. It’s an annual treat that I look forward to each spring. As mentioned it’s a golden opportunity to feast on those tasty movie offerings that you will never see at the local Cineplex. Movies that you might never even see on those cable movie channels that cost you a monthly subscription. If you want to get off the beaten path of mainstream movies and walk on the wild side a little, here’s your chance. Just a two hour drive away.

One other suggestion worth considering: while in Cleveland, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If you love rock and pop music, you are guaranteed to have a blast. Literally. I always make a point to spending a few hours there each year to take in the latest exhibits and shows and to be re-energized by all the music that comprises the virtual soundtrack of my life. In addition to rooms full of cool rock memorabilia, there are exhibits featuring audio and video that will reach down to your very soul and make you proud to be part of America’s epic contribution to pop culture. As we all know, jazz, rock music and movies are America’s unique gifts to the world and they can all be celebrated in the city of Cleveland.

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This year’s Cleveland International Film Festival runs through April 7th. For more details, CLICK HERE or call 877-304-FILM.