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2021 Cleveland International Film Festival goes virtual: 'Most responsible option'

The 2021 Cleveland International Film Festival runs from April 7-20.

CLEVELAND — The 45th Cleveland International Film Festival is just six months away, and organizers have revealed they will be hosting the annual event virtually again in 2021 amid ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

Officials said the decision was unanimously approved by the CIFF Board of Directors during its Sept. 29 meeting because “the organization believes it is the most responsible option when it comes to the safety of all those involved – including attendees, filmmakers, volunteers, trustees and staff.”

The 2021 Cleveland International Film Festival runs from April 7-20. The event’s program lineup will be revealed next March.

“We are very much looking forward to building on the success of CIFF44 Streams, during which our audience proved that an online Festival is not only an option, but also the newest component to making CIFF the best and most accessible experience for our incredible patrons,” said CIFF Board President Chris Blake.

The 2020 event, which would have been its final time at Tower City Cinemas, was also held virtually. Organizers said they will use the 2021 event as a bridge moving toward the festival’s new home at Playhouse Square in the spring of 2022.

“CIFF45 will consist of hundreds of films, post-film conversations and Q&As with filmmakers, balloting, awards, and a slew of activities to make the online Festival a robust experience for all involved,” officials said. “The Festival will also include two extra days (making it a 14-day presentation) for extended viewing and engagement opportunities. CIFF Speaks (the organization’s podcast series) will be returning with episodes surrounding and during the Festival.”

CIFF has also announced the promotion of Mallory Martin to Artistic Director, effective Oct. 1. Martin replaces Bill Guentzler, who has stepped down from his role after 22 years with the organization and 15 years as its Artistic Director (2005-2020).

“At a time when the entire film industry is facing a transformation, I am both honored and eager to help lead CIFF into its new chapters and towards new possibilities. No matter where the CIFF will live in the future – be it our own living rooms or Playhouse Square – we remain dedicated to bringing the best of independent cinema home to Cleveland for many years to come,” said CIFF Artistic Director Mallory Martin.