Not Going Quietly directed Nicholas Bruckman
Not Going Quietly directed Nicholas Bruckman

The 45th Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF45 Streams) held entirely online April 7 – 20, 2021, held its live Closing Awards Ceremony on Saturday.

The Audience Choice Award for Best Film along with the $10,000 cash prize went to Not Going Quietly directed Nicholas Bruckman. An intimate and deeply moving portrait documentary, Not Going Quietly follows political organizer Ady Barken as he battles the political system, and the limitations of his own body as he struggles with the devastating diagnosis of ALS.

No Ordinary Man directed by Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt won the Nesnadny + Schwartz Portrait Documentary Competition; My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To directed by Jonathan Cuartas (USA) won the New Direction Competition and Christi Cooper won the ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman for Youth V Gov.

CIFF45 Streams presented its DReam Catcher Award to acclaimed filmmaker – and Ohio’s own – Todd Stephens, whose “Ohio Trilogy” of films — Swan Song, Gypsy 83, and Edge of Seventeen – are being screened at CIFF45 Streams. The DReam Catcher Program and Award was established in 2019 to honor the life and memory of David K. Ream (1949–2017), a beloved CIFF trustee. Celebrating LGBTQ+ artists through the recognition of an LGBTQ+ filmmaker at each Festival, the honor is accompanied by a $5,000 cash award to support future work. As part of the program, Todd spent time connecting virtually with community organizations whose missions support the LGBTQ+ community as well as with student and film communities.

This year’s Festival also included the launch of its Groundbreaker Program and Award. CIFF recognized Ashley O’Shay, director/producer/cinematographer of the CIFF45 Streams film Unapologetic, as its inaugural Groundbreaker Award recipient.

The Groundbreaker Program and Award not only educates CIFF’s audience and community about structural racism, but also elevates and supports BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) filmmakers. The honor is accompanied by a $5,000 cash award to support future work. As part of the program, Ashley spent time connecting virtually with organizations whose missions support communities of color.

Award Winners of 45th Cleveland International Film Festival


Roxanne T. Mueller Audience Choice Award for Best Film
NOT GOING QUIETLY, directed Nicholas Bruckman (USA)

ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman
Christi Cooper (for YOUTH V GOV, USA)

George Gund III Memorial Central and Eastern European Competition
Honorable Mention: FATHER, directed by Srdan Golubović (Serbia, France, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina)

Nesnadny + Schwartz Portrait Documentary Competition
NO ORDINARY MAN, directed by Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt (Canada)
Honorable Mention: SELF PORTRAIT, directed by Katja Høgset, Espen Wallin, and Margreth Olin (Norway)

New Direction Competition
MY HEART CAN’T BEAT UNLESS YOU TELL IT TO, directed by Jonathan Cuartas (USA)
Honorable Mention: SUPERIOR, directed by Erin Vassilopolous (USA)

Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Competition
TOPOWA! – NEVER GIVE UP, directed by Philip Sansom and Inigo Gilmore (United Kingdom)

Global Health Competition
GENERATION GROWTH, directed by Mu Sun (USA)

American Independents Competition
WOMEN IS LOSERS, directed by Lissette Feliciano (USA)

Local Heroes Competition
OPEN HEARTS, directed by Travis Pollert, Jacob Kostelli (USA)

Ad Hoc Docs Competition

International Narrative Competition
THERE IS NO EVIL, directed by Mohammad Rasoulof (Germany, Czechia, Iran)


Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film Overall
ALA KACHUU – TAKE AND RUN, directed by Maria Brendle (Brazil)

Best Animated Short Award*
MIGRANTS, directed by Hugo Caby, Antoine Dupriez, Aubin Kubiak, Lucas Lermytte, and Zoé Devise (France)
Honorable Mention: I NEVER PICKED COTTON, directed by Hanna Adams, Cole Bacani, Max Edmeier, Dariel Filomeno, Alexandra Gottlieb, Namquyen “Q” Le, Yolanda Morgan, Victoria Perez, Benjamin Ragasa, Josie Stocks, John Stover, and Jinghan Tian (USA)

Best Documentary Short Award*
THE SEEKER, directed by Lance Edmands (USA)
Honorable Mention: RED HORIZON, directed by T.C. Johnstone (USA)

Best Live Action Short Award*
DISTANCES, directed by Susan Béjar (Spain)
Honorable Mention: SLOAN HEARTS NECKFACE, directed by Justin Fair (USA)

Programmer’s Choice Award: In Celebration of the life of Toni Oliverio
THE EPHEMERAL, directed by Jorge Muriel (Spain)
Honorable Mention: FABIU, directed by Stefan Langthaler (Austria)

The Sammy and Jules Award for the Short Film with the Biggest Heart and Strongest Spirit
THE INVISIBLE MONSTER, directed by Javier Fesser and Guillermo Fesser (Spain)

The Spalding and Jackson Award: In Celebration of Joy
DISRUPTED BORDERS, directed by Alejandra Aragón (USA)

The Clover and Maggie Award: In Celebration of Life
FEELING THROUGH, directed by Doug Roland (USA)

The Ophelia Award: In Celebration of the Life of Dakota Ophelia Berg
WE CAN’T BREATHE, directed by Miranda Winters and Rocky Romano (USA)

The Tom and Ginny Knoll Family Award: In Celebration of Acts of Kindness
WELCOME STRANGERS, directed by Dia Sokol Savage (USA)

Best After Hours Short Film
THE LAST QUEEN ON EARTH, directed by Michael Shumway (USA)

Best Black Cinema Short Film
A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION, directed by Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers (USA)

Best Comedy Short Film
SWIPE, directed by Anthony Sneed (USA)

Best Family Short Film
MISHOU, directed by Milen Vitanov (Germany, Bulgaria)

Best Latinx Short Film
ESTILO AMERICANO, directed by Miriam Kruishoop (USA)

Best LGBTQ+ Short Film: Given in Celebration of the Life of Nikki Babbit
WHEN I’M HER, directed by Emily Schuman (USA)

Best Ohio Short Film
STILL HOME, directed by Keenan Wetzel (USA)

Best Student Short Film
MASEL TOV COCKTAIL, directed by Arkadij Khaet and Mickey Paatzsch (Germany)

Best Women’s Short Film
POST SENTENCE, directed by Charissa Sanjarernsuithikul (USA)

*These award winners will qualify for consideration in the Short Films category of the annual Academy Awards.®

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