Cleveland International Film Festival announces next year’s event will be entirely virtual

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Cleveland International Film Festival has announced that the 45th annual festival, set to take place April 7-20, will be held virtually, building on the success of this year’s pandemic pivot and with an eye towards public health and safety.

According to a press release, the decision was unanimously approved by the board of directors at its September 29th meeting and “is based on science and community circumstances, as well as the state of the film, theater and event industries.” Given the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the continued closure of Playhouse Square theaters, it was the safest choice.

“We are very much looking forward to building on the success of CIFF44 Streams, during which our audience proved that an online festival is not only an option, but also the newest component to making CIFF the best and most accessible experience for our incredible patrons,” said CIFF Board President Chris Blake.

Although the in-person interaction and conviviality is one of the most prized aspects of the film festival, organizers say this interaction will continue online. The event will include Q&A’s and post-film events with filmmakers as well as awards. The organization’s podcast, CIFF Speaks, will also continue with episodes “surrounding and during the festival.”

CIFF also announced that artistic director Bill Guentzler has stepped down from his position, and that Mallory Martin, previously the director of programming and projection, was promoted to artistic director as of October 1st.

“We are so very excited for Mallory Martin and for the organization, knowing that the programming for CIFF45 and beyond is going to be remarkable,” CIFF executive director Marcie Goodman said in the release. “Both the filmmaker experience and the viewer experience will be exceptional because of Mallory’s talent and expertise.”

“At a time when the entire film industry is facing a transformation, I am both honored and eager to help lead CIFF into its new chapters and towards new possibilities,” said Martin. “No matter where the CIFF will live in the future – be it our own living rooms or Playhouse Square – we remain dedicated to bringing the best of independent cinema home to Cleveland for many years to come.”

Guentzler is apparently excited to be able to watch movies without having to critique them. “CIFF will always be a huge part of me,” he said.

The organization remains committed to CIFF46 taking place in its new home at PlayhouseSquare in 2022, according to the release.

Lee Chilcote is editor and founder of The Land.

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