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

Touches of Magic: Local Filmmaker Finds Inspiration in Community Theater

March 22, 2015   |   posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers


Northeast Ohio is filled with many rich stories, interesting people, and authentic locations for director Ted Sikora. It’s why he likes staying close to his hometown to tell them.

His latest film, “Move On!” is about Near West Theater’s move from St. Patrick’s Club Hall in Ohio City to their own building in the Gordon Arts District. It started out as a small project chronicling the June 2014 rehearsal
period and performances of “Move On!” the final production in their home of 36 years.

“As I kept interviewing people and watching their process I became more and more
fascinated,” says Sikora. “It felt like I was getting these touches of magic each time I went.”

The Near West Theater has a unique identity as a grassroots intergenerational theater that has a mission to build relationships and engage diverse people through transformational theater arts experiences with an emphasis on serving youth.

“The actors really go for it. They are all-in on every number,” he says. “It’s very raw and fearless. I was never around such a richly diverse group of people. All different ages, ethnicities, backgrounds.”

He credits much of the program’s success to its leadership. He says its strength starts with Artistic Director Bob Navis, Jr.

“His directing style is unlike any I’ve ever seen,” Sikora says. “Then there’s this holistic balance from Executive Director Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek. It’s almost cultish—in all the ways that cults are good.”

Sikora is a natural fit for creating a documentary about a theater company. He
was heavily involved in writing two musicals in the ’90s, and when those initial runs were completed he had a sad feeling about the shows being done and gone. He likes that with filmmaking the work continues to exist for others to see exactly as the creators intended it.

He also is able to combine his filmmaking with his other passion, comic books. His voice lights up even more than usual as he talks about his ongoing comic book series, “Apama—The Undiscovered Animal,” based on a character he created in his highly-acclaimed first film, “Hero Tomorrow,” which screened at the 31st CIFF in 2007.

“Working on our comic book as a colorist has improved my cinematography,” explains Sikora, “because I’ve had to think much deeper about the way characters and scenery are affected by light.”

Recently, he and co-creator Milo Miller published a hardcover volume of the first
five issues of Apama. In addition, he has a new screenplay titled “Bloom,” about the origin of Apama’s arch-nemesis, a 1969 flowerchild who becomes Cleveland’s psychedelic mistress of mayhem!

Sikora acknowledges that to be successful with indie films, young filmmakers need a great story and should try to have an identifiable niche market.

“However much time you have spent—or imagine you’ll spend learning the craft of
filmmaking, plan to spend an equal amount of time writing stories and developing your own voice.”

Lisa Curland
Photo by Tim Safranek: Diane Davis Sikora (l) and Ted Sikora (r).

PDF  Download Related PDF [1.2 MB]

Related Screenings:
03/22/15 @ 5:00 PM – Move On!
03/23/15 @ 2:10 PM – Move On!
03/24/15 @ 8:45 PM – Move On!

Permalink  [Permalink]

CIFF Facebook Posts

FILM UPDATE: CIFF44 alum MY NAME IS SARA will hold a special event featuring a moderated conversation and select scenes from the film this Sunday, June 7th at 5:00 PM EST. Get full info and register today (limited space is available):

about 6 hours ago   .   Link

CIFF Tweets

FILM UPDATE: #CIFF44 alum MY NAME IS SARA will hold a special event featuring a moderated conversation and select scenes from the film this Sunday, June 7th at 5:00 PM EST. Get full info and register today (limited space is available):

about 6 hours ago   .   Reply   .   Retweet   .   Favorite

CIFF on Instagram

Follow us @clefilmfest

We believe in the power of storytelling, and we know education is crucial to moving our world forward.  We are fortunate to have alums such as LONG TIME COMING (#CIFF43) and WHOSE STREETS (#CIFF41) that tell the story of the pioneers of the civil rights movement, as well as our present-day fight. Find where you can access these films at the CIFF ALUMS link in @clefilmfest bio.

Posted by clefilmfest at 7:00 PM

Questions? >


Check out our FAQs for answers to common questions about entering the film festival.

Donate >


Your donation helps fulfill our mission to promote artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition.

Sign up for our email newsletter

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • instagram
  • youtube
  • flickr
  • alexa
  • foursquare



We promise you, it will make a difference!

Give Today