The Cleveland International Film Festival Sunday, March 29: A Grand Finale!

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Mon, 03/30/2009 - 00:28.

When I arrived at the Cleveland International Film Festival Sunday afternoon for the 2:15 PM showing of THE TOUR, directed by Goran Markovic, Tower City Cinemas was packed! I quickly took a place in the long line for my film. I later learned that yesterday's attendance broke all previous records; 9,500 had attended. With many of Sunday's films on standby by the early afternoon, the last day of the festival promised to be a record breaker too. The gentleman who introduce THE TOUR also told us that the fund raising goal of $33,000 had been surpassed. By Saturday evening $45,000 had been donated. CIFF staff were optimistic that the total would exceed $50,000 by the end of the festival.

THE TOUR directed by Goran Markovic is part of the Central and Eastern European Film Competition. The 2003 CIFF is where I first encountered Goran Markovic's work. He was the first to receive the CIFF Director's Spotlight Award 2003. I saw THE TOUR with two friends who are very knowledgeable about Eastern European film (one of them was born in Serbia). We all agreeded that the film was excellent. As we stood in line waiting to take our seats we discussed some of the qualities of Serbian films – to say the least, they usually don't have a Hollywood style happy ending. But this time the ending was satisfying. I found the subtitles and details very captivating. Best of all, the directors message – in war, no one is innocent -- seems so appropriate for our time. THE TOUR contains some very graphic and horrific scenes, but only one of Markovic's characters meets a tragic end.

I am eager to hear which film wins the Central and Eastern European Film Competition – it would not surprise me at all if THE TOUR wins this award.

I regret that I was not able to attend the closing night party. I am eager to find out which films won awards. Most of the nine films I saw deserve to be in the running. I have been to the closing night party in previous years. Whereas the opening night Gala is a ticketed event, $100 for CIFF members and $125 for non-members, and well out of the price range of many CIFF goers, the Closing Night Party is free and open to the public. There is free food and drink and a feeling of camaraderie among those celebrating another successful year. Its also slightly sad at the Closing Night Party to see it all end until next March.

This year I was very conscientious about turning in my ballot after each film I saw. I can't wait to find out which film won the Roxanne T. Mueller Audience Choice Award for Best Film.