Cleveland International Film Festival } March 22 – April 1, 2023 } Playhouse Square

April 09, 2017

CIFF41 Celebrates Record-Breaking Year

The 41st Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), presented by Dollar Bank, hosted record-breaking crowds during the 12-day event held in Tower City Cinemas in downtown Cleveland and at seven other neighborhood locations. The CIFF welcomed 106,504 attendees to its 520+ screenings and, in partnership with Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, raised $167,350 in Challenge Match (annual campaign) donations.

The Festival showcased 202 feature films, 216 short films, 14 Virtual Reality films, and 8 interactive media projects from 71 countries. FilmSlam, CIFF’s media literacy program and mini-festival of films for students, celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. The program was attended by a record-breaking 9,300 excited and engaged students from over 100 schools. More than 1,000 volunteers donated their time and talents to help ensure the success of CIFF41, contributing 11,737 hours of their invaluable time over 3,414 shifts. And without the generous support of our 185 sponsors and funders, 180 non-profit community partners, and 70 media and neighborhood outreach partners, CIFF41 would not have been possible.

For the first time in organizational history, the CIFF presented its Distinguished Award of Appreciation to New York Times film critic A.O. Scott. Mr. Scott was chosen as the first recipient of this award because the Festival wanted to express their heartfelt appreciation for his genuine appreciation of film festivals — a topic that Mr. Scott has often written from and about. The award was sponsored with generous support from Lauren Rich Fine and Gary Giller.

The CIFF hosted 300+ filmmakers from around the world who shared their films and offered both local and global perspectives on a vast array of topics. The winners of the competitions and awards were announced at the Closing Night Ceremony on Sunday, April 9, 2017.

Roxanne T. Mueller Audience Choice Award for Best Film
Sponsored by the Callahan Foundation
BIG SONIA, co-directed by Leah Warshawski, Todd Soliday (USA)
$15,000 cash prize

ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman
Presented with generous support from Deborah Bachman Ratner
Danielle Miller and Julia Thorndike (for BURN THE SHIPS; USA)
$10,000 cash prize

George Gund III Memorial Central and Eastern European Competition
Presented with generous support from The George Gund Foundation
ANISHOARA, directed by Ana-Felicia Scutelnicu (Germany, Moldova)
$10,000 cash prize

Nesnadny + Schwartz Documentary Competition
Sponsored by Nesnadny + Schwartz
THE PEACEMAKER, directed by James Demo (USA)
$10,000 cash prize

New Direction Competition
Presented with generous support from CoverMyMeds
DAYVEON, directed by Amman Abbasi (USA)
$7,500 cash prize

Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Competition
Presented with generous support from The George Gund Foundation
CITY OF JOY, directed by Madeleine Gavin (Democratic Republic of the Congo, USA)
$7,500 cash prize

Global Health Competition
Presented by Cleveland Foundation
STUMPED, directed by Robin Berghaus (USA)
$7,500 cash prize

American Independents Competition
Presented with generous support from Tom Piraino and Barbara McWilliams
SEPTEMBER 12TH, directed by David Heinz (USA)
$7,500 cash prize

Local Heroes Competition
Presented with generous support from Mike and Nicki Cancelliere
$7,500 cash prize

Music Movies Competition
Presented with generous support from Jules and Fran Belkin
SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY, directed by Matt Schrader (USA)
$7,500 cash prize

FilmSlam Student Choice Award for Best Feature Film
Presented with generous support from OverDrive
JEFFREY, directed by Yanillys Perez (Dominican Republic, France)
$2,000 Cash Prize

Audience Choice Award for Best Short Subject
THE ILLUMINATION, directed by Tom Scott (USA)
$1,000 Cash Prize

Best Animated Short Award*
Sponsored by Reminger Co., L.P.A.
MY HEART ATTACK, directed by Sheldon Cohen (Canada)
$1,000 cash prize

Best Documentary Short Award*
Sponsored by Jules and Fran Belkin
$1,000 cash prize

Best Live Action Short Award*
Sponsored by Anne Bloomberg and Alan Gordon Lipson & Judy Harris
THE WHOLE WORLD, directed by Julian Quintanilla (Spain)
$1,000 cash prize

FilmSlam Student Choice Award for Best Short Film
Presented with generous support from OverDrive
TWEEN, directed by Raven Johnson (USA)
$1,000 Cash Prize

*These award winners will qualify for consideration in the Short Films category of the annual Academy Awards®.

For a full list of short subject film award winners, please visit

Thanks to the generosity of Bedrock Detroit, the 42nd Cleveland International Film Festival will take place
April 4-15, 2018 at Tower City Cinemas.

The Cleveland International Film Festival is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

Media Contact

Debby Samples, Marketing & Media Director
2510 Market Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113-3434

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