The Cleveland International Film Festival has several competitions where filmmakers compete to win prizes up to $10,000. Winners are announced at the Closing Night Reception.

Roxanne T. Mueller Audience Choice Award for Best Film

Roxanne T. Mueller Audience Choice Award for Best Film

Roxanne T. Mueller served as the film critic at The Plain Dealer from 1983 until 1988 when she lost a six-month battle with cancer at the age of 36. Mueller was a strong supporter of the Festival and, through her writing, helped to raise the general level of film appreciation in Cleveland. She was an exceptionally engaging writer who managed to weave personal insights into her film reviews, whether she was covering popular Hollywood fare or sophisticated foreign cinema. In its 12th year, the CIFF established the Roxanne T. Mueller Audience Choice Award for Best Film to help bring this important Festival friend back into focus a bit each year. Festival patrons rate each film they see and the most popular film is announced at our Closing Night Reception. The Callahan Foundation, started in 1968 by Cleveland nuclear engineer, inventor, and businessman Joe Callahan, joins us in celebrating the 27th year of this renowned award with a $5,000 cash prize to the winner.

George Gund III Memorial Central and Eastern European Film Competition

George Gund III Memorial Central and Eastern European Film Competition

Twenty-five years ago at the 14th CIFF, the Cleveland International Film Festival launched a special focus on films from Central and Eastern Europe, the native lands of many Clevelanders. Thirteen years later at the 27th CIFF, we introduced our Central and Eastern European Competition. And, for the third year, we are deeply honored to present this competition in loving memory of George Gund III with the support of an endowment from The George Gund Foundation. This competition not only gives recognition to the films coming to us from Central and Eastern Europe, but it also awards one filmmaker a $10,000 cash prize that will be announced at our Closing Night Reception.{view films}

Nesnadny + Schwartz Documentary Competition

Nesnadny + Schwartz Documentary Competition

The CIFF is proud to present the 11th Nesnadny + Schwartz Documentary Competition. In 2005, after CIFF attendees voted documentaries as the winners of its audience choice award three years in a row, we decided to highlight these films since they hold such enormous interest for our audience. Nesnadny + Schwartz (www.NSideas.com) is a preeminent international visual communications consultancy committed to providing clients with what they least expect. Nesnadny + Schwartz is very proud to continue their support of the Cleveland International Film Festival and to sponsor a program that has such social, artistic, and popular appeal. Documentaries in competition that are screening in the Festival will be viewed by our panel of jurors throughout the week, and the winner will be announced at our Closing Night Reception, receiving a cash prize of $7,500. {view films}

Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Competition

Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Competition

In 2005 The George Gund Foundation granted the CIFF with an endowment to create the Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Competition as a tribute to Greg Gund. Greg’s friends and family described him as “intensely creative and talented, and wholly without pretension.” For five years Greg lived in Playa Negro near Tamarindo, Costa Rica where he immersed himself by becoming part of the local community. As much as he deeply loved his home there, Greg was also an extensive world traveler with an adventurous spirit and an insatiable curiosity about different cultures and people. He lived by this Mahatma Gandhi quote inscribed in his passport: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Greg died at the age of 32 in a small plane crash off the Pacific Coast on July 16, 2005. Our Standing Up program includes “films with a conscience.” Standing Up started as a sidebar to focus on films with the mission to change the world and grew into a celebration of activism and the fight for social justice. Many of these films highlight personal stories featuring individuals who set out to teach lessons on how to live a better life. One of the aspects all these films share is the impact they make on viewers long after the credits roll. Through the films, Standing Up honors Greg Gund—as well as others with a differentview of the world—and the continual fight to make it better.

Based on audience vote, the winner ofthis competition will be announced atour Closing Night reception and receive a $5,000 cash prize.{view films}

Global Health Competition

Global Health Competition

Cleveland is proud to be home to some of the best medical and health facilities in the world. Therefore, we are proud to present our second Global Health Competition.

The CIFF has always recognized the power of film to change people’s viewpoints about the world. This competition includes films that delve into human health-related issues (both mental and physical) and films about the health of the environment. The films in this competition will introduce our audience to, and educate them about, an entire array of health-related issues, as well as encourage them to question the true definition of health as it relates to individuals and the entire planet.

Based on audience vote, the winner of this competition will be announced at our Closing Night Reception and receive a $5,000 cash prize.{view films}

American Independents Competition

American Independents Competition

With big dreams and small budgets, these films represent the finest in contemporary American cinema. Based on audience vote, this year's competition will yield an increased cash prize of $5,000 to the winner announced at the Closing Night Reception.

The American Independents award is presented with the generous support of ALAN and MARTA GLAZEN.

{view films}

Local Heroes Competition

Local Heroes Competition

Our annual celebration has now become one of our newest competitions, highlighting films made about Ohio, in Ohio, or by Ohioans. We are honored to support these films and filmmakers, hoping to empower the already booming independent film community of Cleveland and Ohio alike. Based on audience vote, this year's competition will yield a $5,000 cash prize winner announced at the Closing Night Reception.

The Local Heroes award is presented with the generous suport of MIKE and NICKI CANCELLIERE.

Local Heroes films are sponsored by Cleveland State University. {view films}

Music Movies Competition

Music Movies Competition

At the 30th CIFF we launched our Music Movies Sidebar, which has since grown into a grouping of some of our most popular films each Festival. For the second year in a row, we’re happy to showcase these film even more and continue the Music Movies Competition. Comprised of documentaries and narratives, this competition is based on audience vote and awards the winner with a $5,000 cash prize, which will be announced at our Closing Night Reception.{view films}

ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman

ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman

We are thrilled to once again celebrate female filmmakers at the Cleveland International Film Festival. The ReelWomenDirect Award (www.reelwomendirect.org), based on audience vote, will be presented to a woman director at our Closing Night Reception, accompanied by a $10,000 cash prize. In an industry historically dominated by men, we are honored to showcase these women filmmakers and the empowered female perspectives they provide within their films. {view films}

Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film

Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film

CIFF patrons determine this program by casting ballots throughout the 39th CIFF. The top vote-getter receives a $1,000 cash prize.

Programmers' Choice Award for Best Short Film

Programmers' Choice Award for Best Short Film

This year's award is in memory of long-time CIFF shorts programmer, Toni Oliverio. The award will be accompanied by a $1,000 cash prize.

Shorts Jury Awards Program

Shorts Jury Awards Program

Independent Shorts Programs will be viewed by our panel of jurors throughout the Festival. Three jurors select winners of the awards listed below. The ten winners will be announced at the Independent Shorts Jury Awards Program on Sunday, March 30, when the shorts are screened and the filmmakers are recognized during this special program. Each award is accompanied with a $1,000 cash prize.

The CIFF39 is screening in 11 neighborhood screening locations! >

The CIFF39 is screening in 11 neighborhood screening locations!

See where we'll be and what we're screening by clicking here.

Make the trip downtown easy and Plan Your Day. >

Make the trip downtown easy and Plan Your Day.

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