The Cleveland International Film Festival returns to Playhouse Square in full force this Wednesday, March 22, running until April 1.
After a fully streamed event in 2020 and 2021, and the festival’s first in-person return last year, 2023 is poised to have the largest CIFF attendance in the past three years.
Opening night kicks off with the Reading Rainbow documentary Butterfly in the Sky, with other notable films including the centerpiece screening of Being Mary Tyler Moore and inclusive features like 1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture or In Search of Bengali Harlem, from the DReam Maker and Groundbreaker award programs respectively.
Of course, there are several locally made and Cleveland-centric movies slated for the event’s near-two weeks of programming.
Check out the list below for six homegrown films screening:
We are the Troopers directed by Jonathan Kimble
Take a trip west of Cleveland with this enticing narrative about the Toledo Troopers, considered the most successful National Women’s Football League team. The film delves into the life and times of a few of the team, with history and footage dating back decades. March 25, 4:50 p.m., KeyBank State Theatre, 1519 Euclid, Ave., Cleveland, clevelandfilm.org
Citizen Sleuth directed by Chris Kasick
If you can’t identify the true crime nerd in your friend group, then it might be you. With the genre-expanding every year into various mediums, the topic is hard to escape. In Citizen Sleuth, podcaster Emily Nestor learns this the hard way when she becomes entangled in a career-threatening mess during her investigation of the death of a Marietta, Ohio, resident. March 25, 9:50 p.m., March 26, 7:25 p.m., Mimi Ohio Theatre, 1511 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, clevelandfilm.org
Egghead & Twinkie directed by Sarah Kambe Holland
This coming-of-age story centers around Twinkie — recently out of the closet — and her best friend Egghead as they journey across the country for the former can meet Egghead's online crush, known only by the username @BigDykeEnergy. This LGBTQ-centered film boasts animation done solely by Cleveland Institute of Art graduates and, notably, Egghead & Twinkie marks the first feature film ever crowdfunded on TikTok. March 29, 4:55 p.m., Upper Allen Theatre, 1407 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, clevelandfilm.org
Lunchbox directed by Anne Hu
In the mood for a short film? Check out this one directed by Mayfield High School grad Anne Hu as a part of the Local Heroes Shorts Program at CIFF. The narrative surrounds a Taiwanese American women as she makes her favorite lunches from childhood and contemplates her relationship with her own immigrant mother, whom she struggles to forgive herself for pushing away. March 29, 7:20 p.m., Allen Theatre, 1407 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, clevelandfilm.org
Speak Up Brotha! directed by Wes Andre Goodrich
Cleveland native Roderick Lawrence, the screenwriter and actor for this short, has already snagged an award or two for his past work — so you know the upcoming Speak Up Brotha!, premiering at CIFF, is sure to pack a poignant punch. The movie centers around a rideshare driver who wonders if he’s just met the woman of his dreams. Can he step out of his comfort zone to find out? March 29, 7:20 p.m., Allen Theatre, 1407 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, clevelandfilm.org
Dark Water directed by Nonie Shiverick
Boating an exclusively Cleveland-based production utilizing local actors, technicians and editors, Dark Water delves into mental health as a woman suffering from severe panic attacks begins to experience the terrifyingly real sensation of drowning. Shiverick recently won an award at the Renegade Film Festival in Atlanta — a testament to the quality work you might find in her newest short. March 28, 7:25 p.m., Allen Theatre, 1407 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, clevelandfilm.org