150 Films to Screen at Next Week's Short.Sweet.Film Fest.

click to enlarge 150 Films to Screen at Next Week's Short.Sweet.Film Fest.
Courtesy of the Short.Sweet.Film.Fest.
Michael Suglio, organizer of the annual Short.Sweet.Film.Fest. that comes to the Alex Theatre at the 9 next week on Wednesday for a five-day run, was shocked by the number of submissions he received for this year’s event.

“We got 529 submissions,” says Suglio one morning over coffee at Presti’s as he was on his way to teach a film class at Case Western Reserve University. “We got so many submissions.”

The festival started innocently enough eight years ago before growing to the massive undertaking that it is today. Suglio was watching a few bands play at Now That's Class when he realized that hosting a film festival in an informal, club-like atmosphere would be a good idea.

In 2012, he successfully launched his festival at Ohio City's Market Garden Brewery. It has since migrated to the Alex Theatre, and this year’s event has expanded to five days.

“I’ve tried to add things incrementally,” says Suglio. One hundred fifty films — half of which come from Northeast Ohio — will screen at this year's festival. “Last year, I added live table readings. That proved to be pretty successful. I don’t know of any festivals in the area that are doing that. These poor screenwriters work so hard and how else are you going to learn until you have a live table reading? We have a process of judging them. We select the top two and Brian Bowers, the guy who runs the 48 Hour Film Project, finds actors and directs the screenplays.”

Suglio says that expanding to five days provides not only a chance to show more films but more opportunities for people to see the films.

The program features films by genre, and there are categories for horror film and documentary movies, for example. Suglio will sprinkle international films into the mix too.

“I intersperse the international films throughout,” he says. “People are afraid of subtitles, so I needed to figure out a way to incorporate them into the programming. People usually enjoy them.”

He’s particularly excited for the opening film, El Astronauta. Director Manuel Trotta’s short made it onto the Oscar shortlist this year for Live Action Shorts.

“This is the film’s last public screening,” says Suglio. “It’s about a son in his mid- to late- thirties. His father struggles with dementia and thinks he’s an astronaut. It’s such an emotionally driven film.”

The festival will also include a screening of Inseparable, which won the 48 Hour Film Project over the summer.

“It shows a good slice of human life that we can all relate to,” says Suglio when asked about the film. “It shows the connection between a father and a son and a mother and a child.”

Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of the festival, and Suglio says he’ll have a big announcement to make about how he'll celebrate the milestone.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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