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Previewing the 43rd annual Cleveland International Film Festival

Expansion and more than 600 screenings are set for 2019.

Now in it's 43rd year, the Cleveland International Film Festival is bigger and better than ever before. 

Associate Director Patrick Shepherd told WKYC's Jim Donovan that a large part of that growth is due to community engagement.

"We have a lot of enthusiastic film goers in this city and this region," Shepherd said. "The CIFF for the last 4 years has topped attendance of 100 thousand, so we’re just so grateful."

When Shepherd first began working with the festival, that attendance number was much lower, "we were about 35,000 in attendance, and we just slowly expanded over time, and its because the community wanted more."

Thanks in part to success stories like 2016's Believeland, the festival continues to attract filmmakers from around the world. This year, CIFF features films from 71 different countries.

"There’s a little bit in this festival for everyone," Shepherd explained, telling us about one documentary called Long Time Coming: a 1955 Baseball Story which will play on April 5th and April 7th.

One thing's for sure, the 12 days of the festival are an exciting time to be in Cleveland.

"We feel we’re just trying to make our community a better place in which to live, there are thousands of ways to do that but this is the way we choose to do it and if you go downtown for 12 days between march 27 and April 7th, you’re going to see a very vibrant downtown with the film fest running and those 600 screenings."

The 43rd Annual Cleveland International Film Festival runs from May 27th-April 7th. For tickets and more information, visit ClevelandFilm.org.

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