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

The Cleveland International Film Festival has several competitions where filmmakers compete to win prizes up to $15,000. Winners are announced at the Closing Night Ceremony.

George Gund III Memorial Central and Eastern European Competition

George Gund III Memorial Central and Eastern European Competition

Thirty years ago at the 14th CIFF, we 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 its 18th Central and Eastern European Competition. And, for the eighth year, we are deeply honored to showcase this competition in loving memory of George Gund III with the support of an endowment from The George Gund Foundation.

As determined by our jury, the winnner of this competition will be announced at our Closingn Night Ceremony and receive a $10,000 cash prize.

{view films}

Nesnadny + Schwartz Portrait Documentary Competition

Nesnadny + Schwartz Portrait Documentary Competition

The Nesnadny + Schwartz Portrait Documentary Competition is dedicated to the life and work of our longtime board member and friend, Mark Schwartz (1956–2014).

For more than 15 years, N+S has sponsored the CIFF Documentary Competition. Four years ago, we focused more exclusively on portrait documentaries. Like Mark himself, the subjects in these documentaries are determined, dedicated, and daring. The same qualities define the best of what art can achieve in all mediums, including graphic design.

The films are artistic and passionate, telling stories with insight, power, and revelation. Never a man to back down from controversy, this genre of filmmaking exemplifies the way Mark led his life and ran his design firm. Since his death, the firm has continued to honor his vision. Their work is big and bold, grounded in logic, and informed by research.

Portrait documentaries in competition that are screening in the Festival will be viewed by our panel of jurors throughout the week.

As determined by our jury, the winner of this competition will be announced at our Closing Night Ceremony and receive a $10,000 cash prize. {view films}

New Direction Competition

New Direction Competition

At the 39th CIFF we premiered our focus on debut directors whose innovative films transform the traditional notions of cinematic storytelling.

Thanks to the support of CoverMyMeds, we are proud to present our fifth New Direction Competition. Screening within this competition are films created by emerging filmmakers who we believe will define the future of filmmaking. Films in competition that are screening in the Festival will be viewed by our panel of jurors throughout the week.

As determined by our jury, the winner of this competition will be announced at our Closing Night Ceremony and receive a $10,000 cash prize.

{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 in 2005.

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. Our Standing Up Competition includes “films with a conscience.” 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 Ceremony and receive a $7,500 cash prize.{view films}

Ad Hoc Docs Competition

Ad Hoc Docs Competition

Audience at the CIFF love documentaries.

Over the past several years, almost half of the feature films we have presented have been documentaries, which have won the Roxanne T. Mueller Award six of the past seven years. We’re excited to once again present this competition featuring topics, subjects, and stories that go beyond the descriptions of our other competitions.

Based on audience vote, the winner of this competition will be announced at our Closing Night Ceremony 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 selections in this competition will encourage viewers to question the true definition of health as it relates to individuals and the planet.

This year the CIFF is proud to present our seventh Global Health Competition.

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

{view films}

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 winner of this competition will be announced at our Closing Night Ceremony and receive a $7,500 cash prize.{view films}

International Narrative Competition

International Narrative Competition

The CIFF is a great way for Clevelanders to experience the different cultures, languages, and customs of the entire world.

We are recognized for our well-rounded international program, and we’re happy to showcase films from around the globe in the third year of this competition. Based on audience vote, the winner of this competition will be announced at our Closing Night Ceremony and receive a $7,500 cash prize. {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 seventh year in a row, we’re happy to showcase these films as we continue the Music Movies Competition, which is comprised of documentaries and narratives. Based on audience vote, the winner of this competition will be announced at our Closing Night Ceremony and receive a $7,500 cash prize. {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 CIFF.

In an industry historically dominated by men, we are honored to showcase these women–who make up nearly 39% of our feature filmmakers–and the empowered female perspectives they provide within their films.

Based on audience vote, the winning director of this award will be announced at our Closing Night Ceremony and receive a $10,000 cash prize.{view films}

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, April 5, when the shorts are screened and the filmmakers are recognized during this special program. Each award is accompanied with a $1,000 cash prize.

Shorts Audience Choice Awards Program

Shorts Audience Choice Awards Program

CIFF patrons determine the winners of these awards by casting ballots throughout CIFF44. Each award is accompanied with a $1,000 cash prize.

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