CLEVELAND (Tuesday, February 21, 2023) The 47th Cleveland International Film Festival is delighted to announce its slate of special events and programs.


CIFF47 will kick off its in-person, 11-day run at Playhouse Square on Wednesday, March 22, 2023 at7:00 pm with BUTTERFLY IN THE SKY – a documentary about the PBS series Reading Rainbow, which inspired millions of children to “take a look, it’s in a book.”

Starring one of the most beloved television hosts of all time – LeVar Burton – BUTTERFLY IN THE SKY tells the story of the group of broadcasters, educators, and filmmakers who came together to create space for kids to discover the magic and power of reading. The film chronicles how, for 25 years, Reading Rainbow encouraged kids to bring literature into their lives, and to look beyond the pages to learn about the people, places, and experiences each story brought to life.

The film’s directors Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb were joined on the project by fellow producer Bryan Storkel, and executive producers Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Leonardis, Bryn Mooser, Justin Lacob, Kathryn Everett, Tony Hsieh, Andy Hsieh, John Brooks Pounders, and Dava Whisenant. In addition to LeVar Burton, the film’s revered subjects include Alisa Reyes, Kenny Blank, Dean Parisot, Stephen Horelick, Jamie Duneier, Jason Reynolds, Cecily Truett, and Larry Lancit.

Directors Bradford Thomason, executive producer and consulting editor Dava Whisenant, and subjects Ellen Doherty and Kathy Kinsner are scheduled to be in attendance on Opening Night.

Tickets to Opening Night at Playhouse Square are $100 per person ($80 for CIFF members). The evening includes the 7:00 PM screening of the film in the Connor Palace, as well as a post-film reception in the KeyBank State Theatre with complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

The 47th Cleveland International Film Festival Opening Night is sponsored by Dollar Bank.


The Festival is pleased to present its Centerpiece Screening: BEING MARY TYLER MOORE, on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at 7:15 pm. Directed by James Adolphus, the film documents the trailblazing legacy of Mary Tyler Moore. Putting her feminist priorities to work both on and off camera, Mary Tyler Moore – who was a complex icon – masterfully redefined the roles of women in media, while inspiring multiple generations to break down social barriers.

With unprecedented access to the Mary Tyler Moore Estate, friends, family, and colleagues, BEING MARY TYLER MOORE constructs an intimate mosaic of Mary's sixty-year career in show business. The film reveals a complex icon, full of compassion, empathy, and inspirational abilities, despite battling her own demons. At the same time, she tried to keep the pain of a tragic spate of unexpected personal losses from the public. To understand Mary Tyler Moore's life and impact, the documentary weaves Mary's narrative with an examination of the importance of her on-screen roles, her non-traditional influence as a powerful executive, her humanitarianism, and the indelible mark she left on feminism.

BEING MARY TYLER MOORE director James Adolphus is scheduled to be in attendance at CIFF47 for his screening.

Tickets for the CIFF47 Centerpiece Screening of BEING MARY TYLER MOORE are $18 ($16 for CIFF members).


On Saturday, April 1, 2023 at 7:30 pm, CIFF47 will present its Closing Night Film, I LIKE MOVIES. Directed, written and co-produced by Canadian filmmaker Chandler Levack, this coming-of-age dramedy follows the story of a socially inept 17-year-old cinephile, Lawrence Kweller, who gets a job at a video store, where he forms a complicated friendship with his older female manager. As a co-producer of the film, Chandler Levack is joined by her fellow co-producers Lindsay Blair Goeldner and Evan Dubinsky.

The cast – led by breakout star Isaiah Lehtinen – includes celebrated actors Romina D’Ugo, Krista Bridges, and Percy Hynes White.

I LIKE MOVIES director Chandler Levack and producer Lindsay Blair Goeldner are scheduled to be in attendance on Closing Night.

Tickets for Closing Night are $18 ($16 for CIFF members). All those in attendance at any of the films showing on Closing Night are invited to the Closing Night Awards Ceremony in the Connor Palace after the screenings.


DReam Maker 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 Maker Program and Award celebrates LGBTQIA+ artists through the recognition of an LGBTQIA+ filmmaker and that person’s work – as well as the presentation of a slate of films made by LGBTQIA+ directors and featuring LGBTQIA+ themes.

CIFF47 has named its fifth DReam Maker Award recipient: award-winning filmmaker, director, and co-producer of the CIFF47 film 1946: THE MISTRANSLATION THAT SHIFTED CULTURE: Sharon “Rocky” Roggio.

With a career spanning over 15 years, Rocky has received awards and accolades in television and film. In addition to her work on award-winning shows (House of Cards and Parks and Recreation), Rocky premiered her film GOOK at Sundance in 2017, winning the Audience Award in the Next category. The film was subsequently picked up for a select theatrical run, followed by release on Netflix and other digital platforms.

Rocky will spend her time in Cleveland meeting with organizations in Northeast Ohio whose missions support the LGBTQIA+ community. The DReam Maker Award, which is accompanied by $5,000 to support future work, will be presented to Rocky at her film's screening at Playhouse Square.

1946: THE MISTRANSLATION THAT SHIFTED CULTURE – screening on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at 7:25 pm – is a feature documentary that follows the story of tireless researchers who trace the origins of the anti-gay movement among Christians to a grave mistranslation of the Bible in 1946. It chronicles the discovery of never-before-seen archives at Yale University, which unveil astonishing new revelations and casts significant doubt on any biblical basis for LGBTQIA+ prejudice. Featuring commentary from prominent scholars as well as opposing pastors, including the personal stories of the film’s creators, 1946 is at once challenging, enlightening, and inspiring.


CIFF’s Groundbreaker Award and Program – now in its third year – focuses on educational efforts about structural racism and elevates and supports BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) filmmakers. This year’s Groundbreaker Award and Program will include a number of feature and short films.

At CIFF47 the Groundbreaker Award is being presented to two pioneering filmmakers whose work has proven to lift up marginalized voices. This recognition comes with a $5,000 cash award to support the filmmakers’ future work. The Festival is honored to present its Groundbreaker Award to Vivek Bald and Alaudin Ullah, co-directors of the CIFF47 film IN SEARCH OF BENGALI HARLEM.

As part of the program, Vivek and Alaudin will connect with organizations whose missions support the themes and topics in their film. The Groundbreaker Award will be presented to Vivek and Alaudin during their time at CIFF47.

Vivek Bald’s award-winning career spans more than 25 years across film, television, literature, and education. His films and projects have long been celebrated for their exploration of the South Asian lived experience in the U.S and Britain. His success is reflected in the screening of his films in more than 13 countries, his consulting and on-screen work with the Peabody Award winning PBS documentary series, Asian Americans, as well as his current role as faculty Director of MIT’s Open Documentary Lab.

Alaudin Ullah is a playwright and actor, and the son of one of the first Bengali Muslim men to settle in Harlem. He is the author of the acclaimed one-man show, "Dishwasher Dreams," based on his father’s life in New York City in the 1930s-60s. Alaudin premiered “Dishwasher Dreams” at the New Works Now! Festival, and was awarded one of the Public Theater’s prestigious Emerging Writers Group Fellowships. In the years following the play’s premiere, Alaudin has performed “Dishwasher Dreams” in theaters nationwide.

IN SEARCH OF BENGALI HARLEM, screening at CIFF47 on Saturday, March 25, 2023 at 4:55 pm, is about actor Alaudin Ullah, who grew up in Harlem’s Washington Carver Projects and intentionally neglected his Bengali Muslim roots. He travels to Bangladesh to uncover the secret history of his South Asian parents, and learns to look beyond the stereotypes of his immigrant ancestry in a post-9/11 world.


CIFF47 will take place March 22-April 1, 2023 at Playhouse Square, followed by CIFF47 Streams, sponsored by PNC, which will take place April 2-9, 2023 online. The full Festival lineup will be announced on Friday, March 3, 2023. Tickets go on sale to CIFF members on Monday, March 6, 2023and to the public on Friday, March 10, 2023. For information on CIFF, please continue to 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.




Debby Samples, Marketing & Media Director, [email protected], 216.623.3456 x14