Cleveland International Film Festival: Interview with John Ewing, Curator of Film

One of the city’s most popular and beloved events is upon us. The 37th Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) runs through Sunday, April 14 at Tower City Cinemas. This annual event presents some of the newest and best films from around the world. Last year the festival drew over 85,000 admissions during its 11 day run.

Each year, the Cleveland Museum of Art partners with the festival to sponsor a film, and this year is no exception. We sat down with John Ewing, curator of film, to talk to him about the festival, and our film.

The Cleveland International Film Festival bills itself as the premier film event between New York and Chicago, showing over 150 feature films from approximately 60 countries. How does such a distinguished film festival effect Cleveland’s art community? It’s all interwoven, according to John Ewing. “A 37-year-old festival makes Cleveland an infinitely richer film city than it would be otherwise. Add the year-round CMA film program, the 27-year-old Cinematheque, and a thriving commercial art house scene and you have one of the best film cities in America—seriously,” Ewing says.

Ewing, who sees about 30 films at the festival each year, loves the approachability of the event. CIFF features special sidebars that bring diversity and education to its audiences, such as “Local Heroes” which showcases films with local ties or “It’s Easy Being Green” which highlights films about environmental issues. “The film festival is like the museum in that it offers something for everyone,” says Ewing. When asked if he draws inspiration from the film festival for the CMA’s film program, Ewing says, yes, he has brought back films that debuted locally at the CIFF. This year, the festival is taking a page from his book and showing a film that premiered at the CMA a few years ago, Were the World Mine. But for the most part, Ewing says both the film festival and his programs strive to play quality movies that are not duplicated anywhere else around town.

The Painting, the CMA’s Community Partner film at CIFF, is a French animated film about an unfinished painting from which the figures come to life and eventually leave the canvas. There are three different “castes” of characters in the film, the “Alldunns” (fully realized), “Halfies” (partially finished) and “Sketchies” (roughly rendered). Ewing notes that this animated film can be enjoyed by both adults and older children.

The Painting runs Thursday, April 4 at 6:40 p.m. and again Sunday, April 7 at 4:20 p.m. at Tower City Cinemas in downtown Cleveland. It is in French with English subtitles. Visit http://www.clevelandart.org/events/films/cma-film-fest-0 for tickets and further information.

--Therese Conway



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