Cleveland International Film Festival } April 7 – April 20, 2021

Call for Entries

The 45th Cleveland International Film Festival, which will take place April 7-20, 2021, will be held online in its entirety.

This decision, which was unanimously approved by the CIFF Board of Directors at its September 29, 2020 meeting, is based on science and community circumstances, as well as the state of the film, theater, and event industries. In addition, during this time of great uncertainty and in the throes of a resurgent coronavirus pandemic, the organization believes it is the most responsible option when it comes to the safety of all those involved – including attendees, filmmakers, volunteers, trustees, and staff.

After quickly pivoting from an in-person Festival to the online CIFF44 Streams earlier this year, the CIFF’s invaluable connections to film, filmmakers, and the community remain unbroken, as well as deepened. The organization is viewing CIFF45 as a bridge to its future and looks forward to CIFF46 taking place in its new home at Playhouse Square during the spring of 2022.

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.

CIFF45 Streams will consist of hundreds of films, post-film conversations and Q&As with filmmakers, balloting, awards, and a slew of activities to make the online Festival a robust experience for all involved. The Festival will also include two extra days (making it a 14-day presentation) for extended viewing and engagement opportunities. CIFF Speaks (the organization’s podcast series) will be returning with episodes surrounding and during the Festival.

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 Streams 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 Streams 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 see our Terms and Conditions or email our Special Programs Director, Beth Steele Radisek, at

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