CIFF47: PSQ March 22 – April 1, 2023 | Streams April 2 – April 9, 2023

March 16, 2021

CIFF45 Streams Announces DReam Catcher and Groundbreaker Programs and Awards

CLEVELAND (Tuesday, March 16, 2021) –The 45th Cleveland International Film Festival is excited to announce its esteemed DReam Catcher and Groundbreaker Programs and Award recipients.


Dream Catcher was established in 2019 to honor the life and memory of David K. Ream (1949–2017), a beloved CIFF trustee. An indexer by profession, a master of puns by choice, and a true Renaissance man at heart, Dave loved Cleveland and everything about it. The DReam Catcher Program and Award celebrates LGBTQ+ artists through the recognition of an LGBTQ+ filmmaker at each Festival and the presentation of a slate of films.

The Festival has named its third DReam Catcher Award recipient: award-winning filmmaker – and Ohio’s own – Todd Stephens. The DReam Catcher Award, which is accompanied by a $5,000 cash award to support future work, will be presented to Todd during the live, interactive broadcast of CIFF45 Streams’ Happy Hour show on Thursday, April 15th at 8:00 PM ET on the CIFF YouTube page. CIFF45 Streams Happy Hour programs are presented by Great Lakes Brewing Company.

Born and raised in Sandusky, Ohio, Todd wrote, produced, and directed ANOTHER GAY MOVIE, ANOTHER GAY SEQUEL: GAYS GONE WILD! and GYPSY 83. He also wrote and produced EDGE OF SEVENTEEN. His most recent film SWAN SONG is the final installment in his Ohio Trilogy after EDGE OF SEVENTEEN and GYPSY 83. He has received numerous awards and accolades for his films, which were released theatrically across the world. Todd is currently a Professor of Film at School of Visual Arts in NYC. All three of the Ohio Trilogy films are included in CIFF45 Streams.

As part of the program, Todd will spend time connecting virtually with community organizations whose missions support the LGBTQ+ community.

In addition to Todd’s films, CIFF is expanding the DReam Catcher program to highlight a variety of films made by LGBTQ+ directors and featuring LGBTQ+ themes. To watch the pre-recorded CIFF45 Streams Roundtable episode featuring some of these filmmakers, visit the Festival’s YouTube page beginning Thursday, April 8th. CIFF45 Filmmaker Conversations and Roundtables are presented by PNC.


Born from CIFF44’s Focus 2020: Racial Equity Program, the Groundbreaker Program will not only educate our audience and community about structural racism, but also it will elevate and support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) filmmakers. The program, which is sponsored by Case Western Reserve University, will offer a number of feature and short films.

The Groundbreaker Award, which is sponsored by CoverMyMeds, is presented to a pioneering filmmaker in their field whose work has proven to lift up marginalized voices. This recognition comes with a $5,000 cash award to help support the filmmaker’s future work. The Festival is honored to present its first-ever Groundbreaker Award to Ashley O’Shay, the director, producer, and cinematographer of the CIFF45 Streams film UNAPOLOGETIC.

As part of the program, Ashley will connect virtually with organizations whose missions support communities of color. The Groundbreaker Award will be presented to Ashley during the live, interactive broadcast of CIFF45 Streams’ Happy Hour show on Tuesday, April 13th at 8:00 PM ET on the CIFF YouTube page. CIFF45 Streams Happy Hour programs are presented by Great Lakes Brewing Company.

With an impressive roster of projects in her portfolio, Ashley has gained notoriety from her work with national brands and award-winning television series, as well as critically-acclaimed docuseries. After crafting several short films, UNAPOLOGETIC is Ashley’s first feature film.

Previously a fellow with Firelight Media, the Bay Area Video Coalition, Film Independent, Kartemquin’s Diverse Voices in Docs, Hedgebrook, Cucalorus Film Festival, and UC Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program, Ashley is currently an associate with Kartemquin Films.


CIFF45 Streams will be held entirely online April 7-20, 2021 at The Festival will consist of hundreds of films, filmmaker conversations and Q&As, audience voting, filmmaker awards, podcast episodes, and merchandise, as well as audience engagement activities and events. The Festival lineup will be released on on Friday, March 19th at 11:00 AM ET. Tickets – including special event screenings – will go on sale to CIFF Members on Monday, March 22nd at 11:00 AM ET and to the public on Friday, March 26th at 11:00 AM ET. For more information, including membership opportunities, please visit

The Cleveland International Film Festival is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. Also, the Cleveland International Film Festival is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.


Please note: When given, photo credit can be found in the image file name and should be used.


Debby Samples, Marketing & Media Director,, 216.623.3456 x14

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Debby Samples, Marketing & Media Director
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