Cleveland International Film Festival } April 7 – April 18, 2021 } Playhouse Square

Call for Entries

Submissions are now open on FilmFreeway for the 45th Cleveland International Film Festival. CIFF45 is scheduled to take place April 7–18, 2021 at its new home at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, so long as health and safety conditions permit CIFF to do so. An impressive collection of historic theaters in the middle of a vibrant entertainment district, Playhouse Square is the largest performing arts center in the U.S. outside of New York City.

Although it is impossible to predict the state of the world next spring, the Cleveland International Film Festival is committed to not only maintaining, but also deepening its connections to independent film, filmmakers, and our community, in any and every way that we are able to do so. We will continue planning for CIFF45, while closely monitoring health and safety guidelines. It is our priority to communicate any news about possible event changes if and when they may occur. Potential changes could include dates, venues, and formats.

Looking back, on March 11, 2020, exactly two weeks before the Opening Night of CIFF44, the Festival was cancelled in accordance with a municipal order concerning the COVID-19 virus. Because we knew how important it was for the CIFF44 lineup to be seen in whatever way possible, for both our audience and our filmmakers, we quickly pivoted to present CIFF44 Streams within a matter of weeks. This first-ever virtual CIFF showcased more than 325 CIFF44 feature and short films, and resulted in approximately 42,000 streams by Ohio residents. Multiple digital events, many of which included filmmakers, were held among audience members and with CIFF community partners, sponsors, and funders.

In a time of many changes, we are happy to report that CIFF remains on MovieMaker Magazine’s list of 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, and continues to be one of the few festivals in the world that is Academy Award® qualifying for all three categories of shorts films—live action, animated, and documentary. CIFF accepts films of any runtime, any genre, and from every country. In recent years, CIFF awarded a total of over $125,000 to the winning filmmakers of 30 different competitions.

As CIFF is one of many festivals to sign Seed & Spark’s 2020 Film Festival Survival Pledge, we have committed to relaxing premiere restrictions and extending production deadlines to June 1, 2019, for all CIFF45 submissions. We will also accept any films screened online in an official ticketed festival capacity.

As always, CIFF will continue to provide written feedback from our screening team—a diverse volunteer committee comprised of 150 film enthusiasts assembled from our audience base, ranging from industry professionals to local film students. CIFF is also happy to once again offer submission waivers to any CIFF Alums whose current film meets the CIFF45 requirements.

Now, more than ever, the world needs your voices and your stories. Thank you for sharing your films with us, and thank you for continuing to make much needed art during these turbulent times. No matter what the future holds, the Cleveland International Film Festival remains dedicated to supporting the work of filmmakers everywhere and uniting our community through the power of film.

For all questions related to submissions, please check out our FilmFreeway page and Call for Entries FAQs, or email our Special Programs Director, Beth Steele Radisek, at

"2020 is a year to remember and as so many film festivals struggled to rally, the CIFF family rallied and persevered. From the very beginning, Bill [Guentzler, CIFF Artistic Director] and his amazing team were super communicative, helpful, and supportive. You could tell that everyone we connected with saw our film, championed our film, and were passionate about the film festival. We are so honored to have this opportunity to be on CIFF Speaks, CIFF44 Streams, and proudly display our laurel with pride." - Gilda Sheppard, Since I Been Down

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We are thrilled to once again partner with @PNCBank! Our sincere thanks for their support of our Halfway to #CIFF45

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