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Boss Ladies of CLE: Cleveland International Film Festival Executive Director Marcie Goodman

'We belong somewhere, and that's just an amazing feeling to be part of something like Playhouse Square.'

CLEVELAND — "A boss lady is somebody who boldly chooses her own direction. She gets stuff done, she often strays from the conventional path and blazes her own trail. She often works towards a higher purpose outside of her own personal success." - Maggie Sullivan, author of "Boss Ladies of CLE"

Marcie Goodman is in her 21st year with the Cleveland International Film Festival. But this year, the non-profit organization is effectively starting over, in person, in its new forever home.

Starting tonight, Playhouse Square is instead a movie house.

"We're a resident company of Playhouse Square," Goodman said in a recent interview with 3News anchor Sara Shookman. "We can't even believe it. Like, we belong somewhere, and that's just an amazing feeling to be part of something like Playhouse Square."

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Marcie is now more than two decades into the role of executive director of the 46-year-old festival, but this year, it's all new.

"This is a big year for us," Goodman said. "It's sort of like a tripleheader or a trifecta in that it'll be our first festival at Playhouse Square, our first hybrid festival — meaning it will be in-person and then online — and, by virtue of being hybrid, our first 18-day festival."

CIFF was last in-person in 2019 at the now defunct Tower City Cinemas, then came two seasons of virtual festivals during the pandemic. This year, the films, the fans, and the filmmakers are back in full force.

"We're taking over the place," Goodman said, smiling. "The festival's always been like a family reunion, and so we haven't had a family reunion in a few years, so that'll be amazing."

Credit: Cleveland International Film Festival
Marcie Goodman at CIFF 43 in 2019.

CIFF was last in-person in 2019 at the now defunct Tower City Cinemas, then came two seasons of virtual festivals during the pandemic. This year, the films, the fans, and the filmmakers are back in full force.

"We're taking over the place," Goodman said, smiling. "The festival's always been like a family reunion, and so we haven't had a family reunion in a few years, so that'll be amazing."

CIFF is Marcie's family. She first joined the organization in 1987. A native Clevelander and Case Western Reserve grad, she'd spent a decade working in the non-profit world and wanted to work in film.

It all started, Marcie says, when she reached out to the Festival's founder, Jon Forman.

"This was before email, and I wrote a letter," she told 3News. "I said, 'If you ever need to hire someone ...' and he called me. And so whenever people reach out to me, I always pay attention because you never know, and I encourage people to do that. If there's a job that you want, reach out. You never know, it could work out."

Credit: Cleveland International Film Festival
Marcie Goodman is pictured with CIFF founder Jon Forman (left) and David Wittowsky (right).

Goodman never formally studied film, but her love for the medium runs deep.

"I just so appreciate everything about the art form," she said. "Most of all the filmmakers, the artists themselves and how hard they work and what they manage to do to me, it's magical."

But it takes hard work, and long hours, to make — and highlight — that magic. Goodman admits the hardest part is leaving her Weimaraners, Gilda and Dash, and her cats back home. 

She also leans on amazing girlfriends, and beats anxiety by washing her car by hand at least once a week — even in the winter. Chocolate also helps. 

"Our opening night film "Peace by Chocolate" is about a chocolate factory," she said. "And there's gonna be chocolate at Opening Night, so very excited about that."

Goodman says she looks forward to the completion of another successful film fest as a harbinger of good things to come in Cleveland. 

"We work so hard to get there and get through it," she explained, and then it's over and we more or less wake up and it's spring, and that is the most amazing thing in the world every single year."

Marcie says tonight’s film is a winner, and the closing night movie "Linoleum" is another she’s looking forward to. It's a time-warp film – a sci-fi comedy-drama written and directed by Columbus native Colin West set in a fictional Ohio town, starring Jim Gaffigan as host of a failing children’s show.

CIFF 46 runs March 30-April 9 at Playhouse Square, and streams online April 10-17. For tickets and more information, visit clevelandfilm.org.

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