Fri 3/1-Sun 3/3
For the same reason books can’t be judged by their cover, movies shouldn’t be judged by their running time. Just ask local director-producer-screenwriter Michael Suglio, who eight years ago created The Short. Sweet. Film Fest in the Market Garden Brewery backroom and basement before eventually moving to the Alex Theater at the Metropolitan at the 9.
This year’s weekend festival — March 1-3 at the downtown venue — features 118 short films that explore all genres. CoolCleveland talked to festival creator and director Suglio about The Short. Sweet. Film Fest.
CoolCleveland: What stands out about this year’s eighth annual festival?
Michael Suglio: We’re super-excited because we’re showing 118 short films and half of them are from Cleveland. The goal all along was to generate a big community of Cleveland filmmakers. Every year we’re getting more and more local submissions. Finally, we reached our goal of half of our films being local.
CC: Early on, how obtainable was that goal of the festival featuring so many filmmakers from Northeast Ohio?
MS: At first it was like a wish-list goal. The thing is, when we started eight years ago there wasn’t as a vibrant of a film community as there is now. So we were part of fostering it, as well as more organizations — Greater Cleveland Film Commission and Cleveland State’s School of Film & Media Arts — around the same time were growing, while people were starting to make more films. So it worked out fantastic.
CC: Do you think today there are more Cleveland-based filmmakers or there were the same amount as before but now they have more outlets?
MS: I think it’s actually a combination of both. I don’t think there were that many short films being made in Cleveland before. And the short films that were being shot, filmmakers didn’t know about the film fest or any other outlet. Also part of that was people would make all of these short films — including myself — and not know what to do with them. They’d put them on YouTube alongside cat videos.
CC: So who would enjoy attending the The Short. Sweet. Film Fest.?
MS: There’s no opportunity really to see most of these films anywhere else, so that’s part of it. Also, it’s simply just an experience. We’re trying to foster an opportunity to communally meet with filmmakers and other people who enjoy independent film. Also new this year, we have workshops and table readings of the award-winning scripts throughout the festival.
CC: Can you list a few shorts you’re looking forward to the audience seeing?
MS: I definitely think people should check out the opening and closing films. Our opening film “My Name is Marc, And You Can Count On It” is a documentary on Marc Brown and Norton’s Furniture. You just get to finally learn about the guy who did these local, iconic commercials in the middle of the night. I grew up watching those commercials, so it’s fantastic to learn more about him. And then our closing film was on the short list for the Oscars and it just missed the final cut. It’s called “Chichotage,” which is a Hungarian word for translators. It’s a really funny comedy about this situation these two translators get themselves in.
CC: In your mind, how does The Short. Sweet. Film Fest. fit alongside the Cleveland International Film Festival taking place later in March?
MS: I work for the Cleveland International Film Festival. It’s a great festival. We’re trying to do a different experience. So many filmmakers attend festivals, meet other filmmakers, network and find different job opportunities. That’s really what we’re trying to foster here at Short. Sweet.
CC: Finally, when it comes to film shorts, are there any public misconceptions you’d like to dispel?
MS: The biggest is people don’t really know what they are. They think sketches or like goofy things they saw on YouTube are short films and they’re not. So a lot of people misconceive seeing a funny video of a cat playing in the snow. No, that’s not a short film. That was somebody documenting something. All good short films have your basic story of a beginning, middle and end. They’re just short-form stories, no different than features.
[Written by John Benson]