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.

George Gund III Memorial Central and Eastern European Film Competition

George Gund III Memorial Central and Eastern European Film Competition

Twenty-six 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. This year the CIFF is proud to present the 14th Central and Eastern European Competition. And, for the fourth 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.

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Nesnadny + Schwartz Documentary Competition

Nesnadny + Schwartz Documentary Competition

The CIFF is proud to present the 12th 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}

New Direction Competition

New Direction Competition

At the 39th CIFF we premiered our most ground-breaking program to date: New Direction. Focusing on debut directors whose innovative films transform the traditional notions of cinematic storytelling, New Direction is back once again. Thanks to the support of CoverMyMeds, we are proud to present our first New Direction Competition. Screening within this competition are films created by emerging filmmakers who we believe will redefine the future of filmmaking. Films in competition that are screening in the Festival will be viewed by our panel of jurors throughout the week. The winner will be announced at our Closing Night Reception, receiving a cash prize of $7,500.

We will also be hosting a panel discussion that will include many of the directors of the films in the New Direction Competition. The panel will be a short program featuring clips and trailers from each film. The New Direction Panel is free and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved here. {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 different view of the world—and the continual fight to make it better.

Based on audience vote, the winner of this competition will be announced at our Closing Night reception and receive a $7,500 cash prize. {view films}

Global Health Competition

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 an entire array of health-related issues and encourage us to question the true definition of health as it relates to individuals and the entire planet.

This year the CIFF is proud to present our third Global Health Competition. Based on audience vote, the winner of this competition will be announced at our Closing Night Reception and receive a $7,500 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 $7,500 to the winner announced at the Closing Night Reception.

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Local Heroes Competition

Local Heroes Competition

Local Heroes is our annual celebration of films made about Ohio, in Ohio, or by Ohioans. We are honored to once again 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 $7,500 cash prize to the winner announced at our Closing Night Reception. {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 third 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 $7,500 cash prize, which willbe 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}

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