For the past 14 years, Chagrin Falls has transformed into a cinematic haven every fall. The Chagrin Documentary Film Festival showcases a staggering array of dozens of documentaries, spanning the spectrum from short, impactful narratives to immersive, long-form journeys.
It's a celebration of the art of storytelling through film, where filmmakers and moviegoers alike come together to explore the world through a lens of creativity, insight and inspiration.
This year’s event will take place in-person from October 4-8, with virtual event access available Oct. 9-16.
The festival features 86 films from 36 countries, with screenings taking place at five different locations including the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, the Chagrin Falls Intermediate School, the Chagrin Falls Methodist Church and Chagrin Falls Township Hall. There will also be one-offs at South Franklin Circle and St. Joan of Arc Church.
For the night owls, there will be a 24 hour screen in Riverside Park displaying short programs open and free to the public.
Some feature films include three premiere documentaries from National Geographic, as well as local producer Tyler Davidson's film Citizen Sleuth, which appeared at the Cleveland International Film Festival earlier this year.
Last years’ in-person attendance was around 7,000, and it is expected to increase this year. The virtual festival brought in over 22,000 streamers last year. The streaming platform is available worldwide, says Executive Director Mary Ann Quinn Ponce.
“We'll be welcoming around 60 filmmakers and subjects and film associated people here to Chagrin, and so it's to honor what they've done, and to give our audience a chance to experience these films and related events that they just would not get a chance to otherwise,” Ponce says.
Ponce has been at the helm of Chagrin Documentary Film Festival from the beginning. Following her son David’s battle with leukemia, she was inspired to showcase the “incredible passion” of the documentary filmmaker.
“It was from the moment that the idea kind of came to us, it was then to begin engaging the larger Northeast Ohio community, both the film community and the film loving community, and the growth has been really beyond anything I would have imagined that first year,” Ponce says.
Now, she creates that communal feeling by providing spaces for filmmakers and movie goers to discuss the medium they love. Fans at the festival often have the chance to ask questions directly to filmmakers following certain screenings.
CDFF Live on Main, for example, is a space for discussion and welcoming at Chagrin Falls Township Hall where the festival panels will take place. The Daily Filmmaker’s panel is also live-streamed along with multi-panels about the films and podcasts.
On Saturday, Oct. 7, there will be a “Meet the Service Animal” event with a film showcasing the impact of all different kinds of service animals.
This is a family friendly event; however, not all films are suitable for young children, and there will be identifiers for more mature films.
“So we're encouraging families to come out, students and their parents, for that and the films in the park,” Ponce says. “We get to tell the families just bring blankets or chairs to come out for short films with their children.”
Tickets to the event are available here.