Carried Away by the Cleveland International Film Festival

The Clue Into Cleveland giveaway to win two tickets to Market at the Foodbank ends this Thursday. Enter here for a chance to attend Harvest for Hunger’s annual benefit.

Scott gets excited for our first trip to the Cleveland International Film Festival

When it’s cold, gray and wet outside, there’s nothing that lifts my spirit like seeing a movie. Bundling up and heading to a theatre so I can be whisked away on whatever adventure awaits is always an excellent remedy.

That’s why – after a dreary Sunday morning running errands – a trip to the Cleveland International Film Festival was perfectly timed.

Tower City, home to the Cleveland International Film Festival, now through April 1

This year’s Cleveland International Film Festival is running now through April 1 in downtown Cleveland’s Tower City.

In its 36th year, CIFF is a Cleveland institution, working hard to enrich the life of the local community and beyond by promoting the power of artistically and culturally significant film arts.  By the end of this year’s festival, CIFF will have shared this vision with over one million attendees since the first CIFF in 1977.

Be sure to arrive early to secure a spot close to the front of the line and a good seat in the theatre

This year was my first. After checking out advice from longtime CIFF experts iHeartCleveland and EatDrinkCleveland, Scott and I headed to Tower City ready to take in a film.

While I knew how popular the film festival is – attracting Clevelanders and out-of-towners alike – I was still struck by the size of the crowds.

I’ve mentioned before I’m not a huge fan of crowds or the chaos and my anxiety that usually accompanies it. Thankfully, everyone at CIFF had the situation under control – keeping the lines for each film organized and happy, escorting and seating each audience when it was time, and nicely but efficiently turning around the theatre after the film ended just in time for the next one to start.

The CIFF team’s helpfulness and organization – along with running into EatDrinkCleveland who volunteered to be our own personal guide – ensured a remarkably smooth experience in spite of the crowds.

Crystal’s been attending CIFF for at least 10 years – the perfect guide for this first-timer

After a lot of consideration and debate about Sunday evening’s film schedule (download the film guide and you’ll understand how difficult it is to narrow down the choices), Scott and I finally decided on Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel.

Part of CIFF’s Women of the World sidebar, Diana Vreeland is a stunning look at the dynamic woman who was a fashion icon throughout most of the 20th century.

As fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar, editor of American Vogue and consultant to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vreeland’s fearless personality and unconventional views on beauty transformed fashion, American culture, and the lives of those who knew her.

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel was a fitting choice for this year’s whimsical CIFF theme – ‘Be Carried Away’

The film mixes dialogues between Diana and George Plimpton who helped edit her autobiography, along with her family and other fashion icons from the 60s and beyond. (My personal favorite was the striking-as-ever Anjelica Huston!)

The film was as visually exquisite as many of the photoshoots and designs shown in it. And as Vreeland’s lifework weaved the tale not just of a piece of clothing, but the life someone could live in that clothing, I felt like I was transported into the beautiful fantasy she created.

Between the nostalgia and the unique fashions you’d be hardpressed to find on the shelves today, it was like spending a few hours in one of my favorite Cleveland stores Flower Child.

As I head into a long week that I’ve been dreading for a while, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel perfectly captured the theme of this year’s festival and helped me Be Carried Away if only for a few hours.

Scott may have taken ‘Be Carried Away’ a little too literally when we stopped by CIFF’s Media Lab photo op (that look on my face is pure surprise)

Diana Vreeland is just one of CIFF’s almost 160 feature films, 160 shorts and countless q&a’s and panels that will lift you out of your world. Between now and April 1, audiences will enjoy films from 60 countries that cover a variety of subjects – including climate change in the Maldives, a Brooklyn chess team’s financial struggles, and the ”kings” of both curling and checkers.

Head to or download CIFF’s Android and iPhone apps to learn more.  And after your film, stop by CIFF’s Challenge Match table to help them reach their goal of $75,000 so that future audiences can likewise be carried away.

Disclaimer: I was invited to attend a CIFF blogger reception and film this Sunday. However, the events I choose to share and my opinions of them are 100% my own.

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  1. Yay! So glad you finally went to the CIFF! It’s was so nice hanging out with you and showing you the ropes.I’ve converted a lot of people to addicts so look out!

    Love the pic in the clouds – priceless!

    Awesome blog!

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