The Chagrin Documentary Film Festival Screens 83 Films in Five Days

Wed 10/2-Sun 10/6

If you’re a film lover, then northeast Ohio is your paradise, with film festivals for every taste. There’s the annual Cleveland International Film Festival, of course, which draws tens of thousands of people (this year more than 100,000) in nearly two weeks of screening hundreds of films. There are festivals for African-American films, LGBTQ+ films, Jewish-themed films, Italian films, independent films, environmental films, shorts, and more.

This week, the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival celebrates its 10th year with 83 films from 37 countries, chosen from more than 500 entries. They include four world premieres, six U.S. premieres, 16 Midwest premieres and 18 Ohio premieres, screening a various locations around the little town of Chagrin Falls over five days. Last year it drew 11,000 viewers. Clevelanders really love film!

The topics run the gamut, and there’s sure to be something of interest to almost anyone, even those who aren’t film buffs, but are into the topic at hand. They include The Man Behind the Bunny, about the Playboy art director who designed the magazine’s — and Playboy empire’s — legendary/infamous logo; Sustainable Nation, exploring how technology developed in Israel to address water shortage is being deployed around the world; The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, following a woman who studied giraffes in South Africa in the 1950s as she returns for the first time in 57 years; and The City That Sold America, about Chicago’s role in spawning and selling pop culture icons ranging from fast-food chains to late-night talk shows to African-American beauty products.

Some of the stories are sweeping treatments of major political movements and crises; others are intimate looks at one person’s journey. The subjects include Netanyahu and skateboarding, dementia and rock promoters, golf caddies and cat shows (Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit screens Thu 10/3 at 11am at the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre; don’t miss it, feline lovers!), and even a paean to black & white photography. They’re as serious and horrific as the Rohingya genocide in Asia and the Irish “mother and baby” homes where babies were taken from unwed mothers and sold for adoption. And they’re as fluffy, frothy and fun as a look at the world of ballroom dancing or … cat shows, which are literally fluffy.

There’s even a set of local short films, with such topics as the Ronald McDonald House on the Cleveland Clinic campus, the restoration of America’s oldest black theater at Karamu House, and the annual Station Hope celebration of the Underground Railroad, hosted by Cleveland Public Theatre in Ohio City.

There are feature-length films and shorts, films by veteran filmmakers and student films. More than 50 directors will be attending, as well as some of the films’ subjects, and there is a host of special events such as a “Meet the Filmmakers” happy hour, lunches and breakfasts with panels on various topics, and a family fun day with kids’ films, live music and farm animals. If we hadn’t banned the use of the phrase at CoolCleveland, we’d say there’s “something for everyone.”

Go here to create your plan of attack. You’ll need one.


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