Mar 11, 2024 - News

Cleveland International Film Festival: 9 movies to see

Shari Lewis with her hand puppet Lamb Chop.

This year's centerpiece film is a documentary about Shari Lewis and her iconic Lamb Chop. Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

This year's Cleveland International Film Festival — which runs April 3-13 at Playhouse Square — will feature 137 feature-length films and 225 shorts, including 13 world premieres.

Why it matters: In its 48th year, CIFF has become one of Northeast Ohio's hallmark cultural events, drawing more than 75,000 filmgoers over two weeks.

The intrigue: The centerpiece movie is "Shari & Lamb Chop," a documentary about ventriloquist Shari Lewis and her iconic sock puppet. It screens on April 9 at Connor Palace.

State of play: "Thelma," a Sundance darling starring June Squibb as an elderly woman who seeks revenge on a phone scammer, will kick off CIFF48 at Connor Palace on April 3.

  • "Devo," a documentary about the groundbreaking new wave band from Akron, will close things out.

Between the lines: The theme of this year's festival is "In the Glow," which is a play on the total solar eclipse on April 8 and the spotlight shown on filmmakers.

  • The festival will go dark during the eclipse.

What we're watching: You can find the full list of films and showtimes on CIFF's website.

If you go: Tickets for screenings go on sale March 22 and start at $18 ($16 for CIFF members).

We've spotlighted nine films you won't want to miss:

"The Mother of All Lies"

When: 5pm April 4 at Connor Palace

The intrigue: The Arabic-language documentary follows director Asmae El Moudir as she digs into her family roots and the history of Morocco.

  • The film won the 2023 Cannes Film Festival's Un Certain Regard best director award.

"This Is a Film About the Black Keys"

When: 7:35pm April 5 at KeyBank State Theatre

The intrigue: The documentary traces the career of Akron band The Black Keys and how members Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney went from playing small clubs in Northeast Ohio to arenas around the world.

"False Positive"

When: 4:55pm April 6 and 2:20pm April 11 at Connor Palace

The intrigue: The documentary tells the story of Akron track-and-field star and gold medalist Butch Reynolds, whose career was ruined after being falsely accused of using performance-enhancing drugs before the 1992 Olympics.

"Small Town Universe"

When: Noon April 7 at Mimi Ohio Theatre and 5pm April 8 at Great Lakes Science Center

The intrigue: The documentary follows the residents of Green Bank, West Virginia — the only place in the country where cellphones and WiFi are nonexistent because they would interfere with the town's famous radio telescope.

"What's Next?"

When: 2:20pm April 7 and 2:25pm April 9 and KeyBank State Theatre

The intrigue: The documentary looks at the life of Cleveland's Dr. Howard Tucker, who, at 101 years old, is the world's oldest practicing physician.

"Sofa, So Good"

When: 7:25pm April 9 and 12:10pm April 10 at Allen Theatre

The intrigue: This is the first feature film from Dayton-based artists the Thiele Brothers and centers on two cousins who attempt to carry their new couch across Dayton.

"Celebrating Julia Reichert: Her Life and Legacy"

When: 4:55pm April 11 at Connor Palace

The intrigue: The 90-minute program is a tribute to documentary filmmaker Julia Reichert and features three short films from her longtime partner Steven Bognar, who will be on hand with special guests.

"Chasing Chasing Amy"

When: 7:30pm April 12 and 11:55pm April 13 at Mimi Ohio Theatre

The intrigue: Sav Rodgers' documentary examines his life as a young queer man who grew up in Kansas and how seeing director Kevin Smith's 1997 dramedy "Chasing Amy" saved his life.


When: 5:05pm April 13 at KeyBank State Theatre

The intrigue: Bobby Cannavale, Rose Byrne and Robert De Niro star in a movie about a divorced comedian (Cannavale) who kidnaps his autistic son for a cross-country road trip.


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