Peace By Chocolate by Jonathan Keijser opens 46th Cleveland International Film Festival
Peace By Chocolate by Jonathan Keijser

The 46th Cleveland International Film Festival will kick off its in-person return and 11-day run at its new home at Playhouse Square with Peace By Chocolate directed by Jonathan Keijser, an inspiring narrative story of working together and overcoming unimaginable hardship.

In Peace By Chocolate, after the bombing of his father’s chocolate factory, a charming young Syrian refugee struggles to settle into his new Canadian small town life. There he is caught between following his dream to become a doctor and preserving his family’s chocolate-making legacy. Based on the internationally recognized true story, Peace By Chocolate is filled with moments of laughter and joy that will leave you with a sweet taste in your mouth.

The film’s director, co-writer, and producer Jonathan Keijser was joined on this project by: co-writer Abdul Malik; co-producers Martin Paul-Hus and Catherine Légar; and executive producer Chadi Dali. The film’s dynamic cast includes Hatem Ali, Ayham Abou Ammar, Yara Sabri, Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Mark Hachem, Najla Al-Khamri, Laurent Pitre and Mark Camacho.

Navalny directed by Daniel Roher
Navalny directed by Daniel Roher

The Festival will present the documentary thriller Navalny, directed by Daniel Roher as the Centerpiece Screening. The film follows Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in his quest to identify the men who poisoned him in August 2020. Shot in Germany as the story unfolded, Navalny offers extraordinary access to the investigation, and is a fly-on-the-wall documentary that is also a study of Navalny the man—a portrait of a leader intent on reform who will not be intimidated by anything, including his own poisoning.

The film made its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for U.S. Documentary, as well as the coveted Festival Favorite Award.

Linoleum directed by Colin West
Linoleum directed by Colin West

On Saturday, April 9, 2022, CIFF46 will present its Closing Night Film, Linoleum. Directed and written by Ohio-born Colin West and produced by Chad Simpson, Dennis Masel, and Chadd Harbold, the film tells the story of the host of a failing children’s science show who tries to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut by building a rocket ship in his garage. What follows is a series of bizarre events that cause him to question his own reality.

Stacked with comedic powerhouses, the cast is led by Grammy nominated stand-up comedian, Jim Gaffigan, along with Rhea Seehorn, Katelyn Nacon, Gabriel Rush, Amy Hargreaves, Michael Ian Black, Tony Shalhoub, West Duchovny, Elisabeth Henry, and Roger Hendricks Simon.

CIFF46 will take place March 30 – April 9, 2022 at Playhouse Square, followed by CIFF46 Streams presented by PNC April 10 – 17, 2022 on the CIFF streaming platform.

International award-winning filmmaker Chase Joynt has been named the recipient of the fourth DReam Catcher Award

Chase will spend his time in Cleveland meeting with organizations in Northeast Ohio whose missions support the LGBTQIA+ community. The DReam Catcher Award, which is accompanied by $5,000 to support future work, will be presented to Chase as part of the CIFF46 Closing Night Ceremony on Saturday April 9, 2022.

Framing Agnes – screening as part of CIFF46 – is Chase Joynt’s solo-directed documentary feature debut. Agnes is the pioneering, pseudonymized transgender woman who participated in Harold Garfinkel’s gender health research at UCLA in the 1960s and who has long stood as a figurehead of trans history. In this rigorous cinematic exercise, which blends fiction with nonfiction, director Chase Joynt explores where and how Agnes’s platform has become a pigeonhole.

This will be Chase’s second film in the CIFF lineup. In 2021, CIFF45 Streams screened No Ordinary Man, a feature-length documentary about jazz musician Billy Tipton, which was co-directed by Chase Joynt and Aisling Chin-Yee. The film won over CIFF audiences and took home the esteemed Nesnadny + Schwartz Portrait Documentary Competition Award.

In addition to his theatrical success, Chase is also an acclaimed author (You Only Live Twice, co-authored with Mike Hoolboom) and television director (Two Sentence Horror Stories for the CW, which are now streaming on Netflix). Along with Samantha Curley, Chase leads Level Ground Productions in Los Angeles.

DReam Catcher was established in 2019 to honor the life and memory of David K. Ream (1949–2017), a beloved CIFF trustee. An indexer by profession, a master of puns by choice, and a true Renaissance man at heart, Dave loved Cleveland and everything about it. The DReam Catcher Program and Award celebrates LGBTQIA+ artists through the recognition of an LGBTQIA+ filmmaker and that person’s work – as well as the presentation of a slate of films made by LGBTQIA+ directors and featuring LGBTQIA+ themes.

The Festival will present its second Groundbreaker Award to Brooke Pepion Swaney, the director of the CIFF46 film Daughter of a Lost Bird.

As part of the program, Brooke will connect with organizations whose missions support Indigenous communities. The Groundbreaker Award will be presented to Brooke during her time at CIFF46.

Daughter of a Lost Bird – Brooke’s first feature documentary – follows Kendra, an adult Native adoptee, as she reconnects with her birth family, discovers her Lummi heritage, and confronts issues of her own identity. Her singular story represents many affected by the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Indian Adoption Project.

Among Brooke’s most recent and notable accolades is being named to the Blacklist’s Inaugural Indigenous List with Tinder on the Rez, along with her co-writer Angela Tucker. She also produced Bella Vista (Rotterdam), Sixty Four Flood (PBS & PBS Digital,) and the podcast All My Relations, with Matika Wilbur and Dr. Adrienne Keene. In 2019, she was selected to participate as a NATIVe Fellow at the European Film Market/Berlinale. She holds an MFA in Film from NYU. Brooke is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation and a descendent of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

CIFF’s Groundbreaker Program focuses on educational efforts about structural racism and elevates and supports BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) filmmakers. This year’s Groundbreaker Program will offer a number of feature and short films.

The Groundbreaker Award is presented to a pioneering filmmaker in their field whose work has proven to lift up marginalized voices. This recognition comes with a $5,000 cash award to help support the filmmaker’s future work.

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