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After the 44th Cleveland International Film Festival was cancelled on March 11th, two weeks before its March 25th Opening Night, the organization quickly pivoted to CIFF44 Reinvented.

This was the CIFF’s first-time online Festival, which came about in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdown of all large public events, including the 44th Cleveland International Film Festival.

After a 14-day run, CIFF44 Streams showcased more than 325 short and feature films with an approximate 42,000 streams. The top five most-watched feature films were: ASSHOLES: A THEORY; THE ARCTIC CAMELS;STRAIGHT UP; ELEPHANT REFUGEES; and CHICHINETTE: THE ACCIDENTAL SPY.

With the close of CIFF44 Streams, the Cleveland International Film Festival announce its juried awards given to filmmakers. The Russian film Beanpole directed by Kantemir Balagov won the Central and Eastern European Competition; Martha: A Picture Story directed by Selina Miles won the Documentary Competition; and Lina From Lima directed by Maria Paz González won the New Direction Competition.

The 45th Cleveland International Film Festival will take place April 7 – 18, 2021 in its new and permanent home at Playhouse Square.


George Gund III Memorial Central and Eastern European Competition
BEANPOLE, directed by Kantemir Balagov (Russia)

Jury Statement: ‘We have unanimously decided to award the film Beanpole, made by young Russian filmmaker Kantemir Balagov, which is a brilliantly written story of the struggle in Leningrad after the siege in WWII. Its fluid imagery, gloomy fairytale-like set design, highly saturated colors and most importantly, the chemistry between the two female leads, help to emphasize the grievousness of everyday post-war life, where yearning for love is the only escape from it all.’

Nesnadny + Schwartz Portrait Documentary Competition
MARTHA: A PICTURE STORY, directed by Selina Miles (Australia, USA, Germany, Brazil)

Jury Statement: A compelling biodoc about an @!$#% icon, this year’s Nesnadny + Schwartz Portrait Documentary Competition winner is focused on a tenacious and fearless photographer who shares a symbiotic spirit with New York City, its under-ground graffiti artists and its singular way of life. May the Schwartz be with Martha: A Picture Story!

New Direction Competition
LINA FROM LIMA, directed by Maria Paz González (Chile, Argentina, Peru)

Jury Statement: “The New Direction Jury Prize goes to Lina from Lima, a film anchored by Magaly Solier’s fantastic performance as Lina, a Peruvian woman whose struggles as a domestic worker in Chile are punctuated by ecstatic musical interludes revealing a rich inner life not always seen by those around her.”

Jury Statement: New Direction Honorable Mention“For it’s singular vision and inventive filmmaking the jury awards an honorable mention to The Planters”


Best Animated Short Award
MY GENERATION, directed by Ludovic Houplain (France)

Best Documentary Short Award
GIRL IN THE HALLWAY, directed by Valerie Barnhart (Canada)

Best Live Action Short Award
THE PRESENT, directed by Farah Nabulsi (Palestine)

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