Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Into Indies? 

The Ohio Independent Film Fest has you covered

Unlike the bigger and more glamorous Cleveland Inter-national Film Festival, the Ohio Independent Film Festival can't boast of being a steppingstone in the career of promising young filmmakers. In fact, the closest it's come to that kind of star-nudging is a past winner of its screenplay competition, a woman who ended up with a producer credit on TV shows like Bones and One Tree Hill.

But there's a sense of underdog spirit fighting through some of the movies shown at the festival, which started in 1993. Despite its name, the OIFF isn't strictly a gathering of Ohio-based moviemakers. Of the 50 or so features and shorts screening over four days this week, only about 10 come from Ohio directors, according to Bernadette Gillota, artistic director of Cleveland's Independent Pictures.

Gillota and her staff looked at more than 300 documentaries, experimental movies, dramas, and animated films sent in for consideration from all over the world this year. "We really like abstract, less linear films," she says. Gillota pulled together seven features and four shorts programs for this year's lineup, which includes films about dog shows, magicians, beatboxers, and Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell.

The fest kicks off at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Beachland Ballroom with nine shorts, followed by a 9 p.m. feature and short. Thursday's lineup at the Beachland starts with a 7 p.m. feature screening followed by a shorts program.

On Friday, the movies move to Arts Collinwood at 7 p.m. for a third shorts program. At 9 p.m. there's a feature and a short. Saturday's lineup at Arts Collinwood includes more features (at 1, 5, 7, and 9 p.m.) and an all-Ohio shorts program (at 3 p.m.).

Asked for her recommendations, Gillota is quick to name three: Close-Up, a drama about a drug-addicted actor trying to clean up (it shows at 9 p.m. Wednesday); Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby, a documentary about 20 pioneering female aviators who competed in a 1929 race (7 p.m. Thursday); and Currency, a feature that looks at the lives of several people over 80 years (9 p.m. Friday).

What ties them all together? "Subject matter presented in an unconventional way. Something that makes you care about something you wouldn't care about otherwise. That's moviemaking."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

More by Michael Gallucci

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 17, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Season's Bleedings @ Capitol Theatre

    • Sat., Dec. 4
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show @ Cedar Lee Theatre

    • First Saturday of every month

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation