Since 2012, up-and-coming filmmakers have gathered in Cleveland for a night of cinematic brevity.
The Short. Sweet. Film Fest showcases “short films in a big way,” as the organization puts it. Hitting town March 1-5, the festival gives filmmakers at local, national and international levels an opportunity to showcase their work.
This year will be the first time the festival is held at the Atlas Theater in Shaker Heights, allowing for two showings at once and more submissions than ever before. More than 75 of the 200 films offered this year are from local filmmakers, including Star Player (made by local students), Secret Honor by Kevin James Hogan and Boss of the Toss by Chris Harboldt.
Suglio and his friend Alex Pavloff started the festival after they went to see a punk performance at Now That's Class — noticing everyone in the audience was friends with the band.
“They all supported each other because they all were doing the same thing,” Executive Director Michael Suglio says. “That was kind of the inspiration of just like, 'Well, okay, we're all making local films. How can we also further support each other?’”
Ahead of the event, Suglio took a few moments to discuss the importance of the festival and local filmmaking.
Cleveland Magazine: Are there any showings you are specifically excited about this year?
Michael Suglio: All of them are very exciting, and it's just really enjoyable to see a lot of Cleveland landmarks. There's one about Mentor Headlands — I grew up in Mentor — and it's just wonderful to get to see that on the big screen. Things that you've seen your whole life, and now it's actually featured in a story. To me, that's really special.
CM: What is your most memorable experience directing the event?
MS: Year four, during the Q&A session, one of the filmmakers called up his girlfriend at the time at the end of the Q&A session and said, 'I just want an extra moment,' and then he proposed. They have two kids now and they've kept in contact. They don't live around here anymore, but they wanted to stay a part of the festival. So, they are participating in our Short. Sweet. Film competition this year.
CM: What is the Short. Sweet. Film competition?
MS: We wanted to find a way to give the local filmmakers another opportunity, another way to participate. We offer cash prizes to the top three teams. … Basically what we do is, in January, teams pull two different prompts for films and then they choose one, and then they have 30 days to make a five-minute film based off of that prompt. The prompts are fun. They're like ninjas and robots — stuff like that, you know? That is on the last day of the festival, the evening of Sunday, March 5.
CM: How important is this opportunity to local filmmakers?
MS: It's important in the sense that when you make art and when you make a film, you really want to have the opportunity to share it with others. They spent all this time and passion completing these projects. We get plenty of people traveling in from all around the world to see their films. It's important for them to share it with others, to see it on the big screen — to get to participate in Q&A's, and get to talk to individuals after the screening. We're partnering with Edwin's in Shaker Square as our main spot for filmmakers to go and hang out after the screenings. I think that's really important. No one makes movies just for themselves.
$0 - $99, Mar 1-5, various times, Atlas Cinemas Shaker Square 6, 13116 Shaker Square Cleveland, shortsweetfilmfest.com
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