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

April 17, 2021

CIFF45 Streams Award Winners

CLEVELAND (Sunday, April 18, 2021) – CIFF45 Streams, which takes place entirely online April 7 – 20, 2021, held its live Closing Awards Ceremony on Saturday, April 17th where the winners of its esteemed awards were announced. Closing Night was sponsored by Hyland.

The Festival has three full days remaining for audiences to catch up on award-winning films and other features and shorts in this year’s lineup. For full information on CIFF45 Streams, including film information and ticket purchases, please visit

CIFF45 Streams presented its DReam Catcher Award to acclaimed filmmaker – and Ohio’s own – Todd Stephens, whose “Ohio Trilogy” of films -- SWAN SONG, GYPSY 83, and EDGE OF SEVENTEEN – are being screened at CIFF45 Streams. The DReam Catcher Program and Award was established in 2019 to honor the life and memory of David K. Ream (1949–2017), a beloved CIFF trustee. Celebrating LGBTQ+ artists through the recognition of an LGBTQ+ filmmaker at each Festival, the honor is accompanied by a $5,000 cash award to support future work. As part of the program, Todd spent time connecting virtually with community organizations whose missions support the LGBTQ+ community as well as with student and film communities.

Todd was presented with the award during a live, interactive Happy Hour show, on Thursday, April 15th.

This year’s Festival also included the launch of its Groundbreaker Program and Award. CIFF is thrilled to recognize Ashley O’Shay, director/producer/cinematographer of the CIFF45 Streams film UNAPOLOGETIC, as its inaugural Groundbreaker Award recipient.

The Groundbreaker Program and Award not only educates CIFF’s audience and community about structural racism, but also elevates and supports BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) filmmakers. The honor is accompanied by a $5,000 cash award to support future work. As part of the program, Ashley spent time connecting virtually with organizations whose missions support communities of color.

Ashley was presented with the award during a live, interactive Happy Hour show, on Tuesday, April 13th. The Groundbreaker Award is sponsored by CoverMyMeds.

CIFF45 Streams Happy Hour programs are presented by Great Lakes Brewing Company.


Roxanne T. Mueller Audience Choice Award for Best Film
Presented with generous support from the Callahan Foundation
NOT GOING QUIETLY, directed Nicholas Bruckman (USA)
$10,000 cash prize

ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman
Presented with generous support from Deborah Bachman Ratner
Christi Cooper (for YOUTH V GOV, USA)
$10,000 cash prize

George Gund III Memorial Central and Eastern European Competition
Endowed by The George Gund Foundation
$10,000 cash prize
Honorable Mention: FATHER, directed by Srdan Golubović (Serbia, France, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina)
Jurors: Tom Hall (Montclair Film), tt stern-enzi (Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival), and Barbara Twist (Film Festival Alliance)

Nesnadny + Schwartz Portrait Documentary Competition
Presented with generous support from Nesnadny + Schwartz
NO ORDINARY MAN, directed by Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt (Canada)
$10,000 cash prize
Honorable Mention: SELF PORTRAIT, directed by Katja Høgset, Espen Wallin, and Margreth Olin (Norway)
Jurors: Greta Hagen-Richardson (Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival), Abby Sun (DocYard), and Chloe Walters-Wallace (Firelight Media)

New Direction Competition
Presented with generous support from Jules and Fran Belkin
MY HEART CAN'T BEAT UNLESS YOU TELL IT TO, directed by Jonathan Cuartas (USA)
$10,000 cash prize
Honorable Mention: SUPERIOR, directed by Erin Vassilopolous (USA)
Jurors: Katie McCullough (Festival Formula), Setu Raval (Film Independent), and Joe Yanick (Yellow Veil Pictures)

Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Competition
Endowed by The George Gund Foundation
TOPOWA! – NEVER GIVE UP, directed by Philip Sansom and Inigo Gilmore (United Kingdom)
$7,500 cash prize

Global Health Competition
Presented by: Mark Smith & Janet Rosel Smith
Generation growth, directed by Mu Sun (USA)
$5,000 cash prize

American Independents Competition
Presented with generous support from Mike and Nicki Cancelliere
WOMEN IS LOSERS, directed by Lissette Feliciano (USA)
$5,000 cash prize

Local Heroes Competition
Presented with generous support from Lauren Rich Fine and Gries Financial Partners
OPEN HEARTS, directed by Travis Pollert, Jacob Kostelli (USA)
$5,000 cash prize

Ad Hoc Docs Competition
Presented with generous support from Tom and Anita Cook & Anne E. Bloomberg
$5,000 cash prize

International Narrative Competition
Presented with generous support from Tom Piraino and Barbara McWilliams
THERE IS NO EVIL, directed by Mohammad Rasoulof (Germany, Czechia, Iran)
$5,000 cash prize


Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film Overall
Sponsored by Char and Chuck Fowler
ALA KACHUU - TAKE AND RUN, directed by Maria Brendle (Brazil)
$1,000 Cash Prize

Best Animated Short Award*
Sponsored by MP Star Financial
MIGRANTS, directed by Hugo Caby, Antoine Dupriez, Aubin Kubiak, Lucas Lermytte, and Zoé Devise (France)
$1,000 cash prize
Honorable Mention: I NEVER PICKED COTTON, directed by Hanna Adams, Cole Bacani, Max Edmeier, Dariel Filomeno, Alexandra Gottlieb, Namquyen "Q" Le, Yolanda Morgan, Victoria Perez, Benjamin Ragasa, Josie Stocks, John Stover, and Jinghan Tian (USA)

Best Documentary Short Award*
Sponsored by Jules and Fran Belkin
THE SEEKER, directed by Lance Edmands (USA)
$1,000 cash prize
Honorable Mention: RED HORIZON, directed by T.C. Johnstone (USA)

Best Live Action Short Award*
Sponsored by Anne E. Bloomberg and Alan Gordon Lipson & Judy Harris
DISTANCES, directed by Susan Béjar (Spain)
$1,000 cash prize
Honorable Mention: SLOAN HEARTS NECKFACE, directed by Justin Fair (USA)

Programmer's Choice Award: In Celebration of the life of Toni Oliverio
Sponsored by The Sloop Family
THE EPHEMERAL, directed by Jorge Muriel (Spain)
$1,000 cash prize
Honorable Mention: FABIU, directed by Stefan Langthaler (Austria)

The Sammy and Jules Award for the Short Film with the Biggest Heart and Strongest Spirit
Sponsored by Marcie Goodman
THE INVISIBLE MONSTER, directed by Javier Fesser and Guillermo Fesser (Spain)
$1,000 cash prize

The Spalding and Jackson Award: In Celebration of Joy
Sponsored by: Marcie Goodman and John Williams
DISRUPTED BORDERS, directed by Alejandra Aragón (USA)
$1,000 cash prize

The Clover and Maggie Award: In Celebration of Life
Sponsored by Barbara Hawley and David Goodman
FEELING THROUGH, directed by Doug Roland (USA)
$1,000 cash prize

The Ophelia Award: In Celebration of the Life of Dakota Ophelia Berg
Sponsored by Jim Brumbaugh and Carolyn Berg
WE CAN’T BREATHE, directed by Miranda Winters and Rocky Romano (USA)
$1,000 cash prize

The Tom and Ginny Knoll Family Award: In Celebration of Acts of Kindness
Sponsored by Tom and Ginny Knoll and The Knoll Family Fund Promoting Civility and Acts of Kindness of Akron Community Foundation
WELCOME STRANGERS, directed by Dia Sokol Savage (USA)
$1,000 cash prize

Best After Hours Short Film
Sponsored by Friends of Patrick McFadden
THE LAST QUEEN ON EARTH, directed by Michael Shumway (USA)
$1,000 cash prize

Best Black Cinema Short Film
Sponsored by Hingetown Browns Backers
A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION, directed by Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers (USA)
$1,000 cash prize

Best Comedy Short Film
Endowed by David K. Ream
SWIPE, directed by Anthony Sneed (USA)
$1,000 cash prize

Best Family Short Film
Sponsored by University School
MISHOU, directed by Milen Vitanov (Germany, Bulgaria)
$1,000 cash prize

Best Latinx Short Film
Sponsored by La Familia Watilo Blake
ESTILO AMERICANO, directed by Miriam Kruishoop (USA)
$1,000 cash prize

Best LGBTQ+ Short Film: Given in Celebration of the Life of Nikki Babbit
Sponsored by Jan and Harold Babbit
WHEN I’M HER, directed by Emily Schuman (USA)
$1,000 cash prize

Best Ohio Short Film
Sponsored by Bill and Teri Koeth
STILL HOME, directed by Keenan Wetzel (USA)
$1,000 cash prize

Best Student Short Film
Sponsored by MP Star Financial
MASEL TOV COCKTAIL, directed by Arkadij Khaet and Mickey Paatzsch (Germany)
$1,000 cash prize

Best Women's Short Film
Sponsored by Jinny and John Johnson
POST SENTENCE, directed by Charissa Sanjarernsuithikul (USA)
$1,000 cash prize

*These award winners will qualify for consideration in the Short Films category of the annual Academy Awards.® CIFF 45 Streams Jurors: Mridu Chandra (Filmmaker & Founding Director- IF/Then Shorts - Tribeca Film Institute), Rebecca Blumhagen (Freelance Filmmaker, Actor, Producer and CIFF Alum), James Choi (Independent Film Director & Producer and Film Instructor at DePaul University)

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.



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2510 Market Avenue
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