In addition to being the flagship event of the Cleveland Film Society, the Cleveland International Film Festival is the premier film event between New York and Chicago.
The first Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) was organized by Jonathan Forman and presented April 13 June 2, 1977. Today's CIFF includes a full survey of contemporary international filmmaking with approximately 100 features from 44 countries and more than 100 short subjects that are shown in collected programs. Along with the main program of international films, there are special sections that add interest and diversity to the overall Festival. These include American independent, documentary, Eastern European, family, gay and lesbian, and Pan-African films.
The Central and Eastern European Competition is a juried competition for emerging filmmakers. The Director's Spotlight comprises a mini-retrospective of a celebrated filmmaker whose important and extensive body of work is not well known in the U.S. The Someone to Watch Awards is an annual showcase for three exceptional filmmakers poised to make international breakthroughs. The Festival pairs their newest film with an older work.