Friday, March 29, 2019

Eat Drink CIFF43

The Cleveland International Film Festival brings people from all over the state, country and world to Cleveland, Ohio. They obviously come for the films, but even the most die hard film fan can't live on movie theater popcorn alone.
Well lucky for all the Film Fest fans, Cleveland is one of the county's top foodie cities. Here are some of my favorite places to get a taste of Cleveland during CIFF43.

Located in Tower City

Turn Bar + Kitchen at the Ritz Carlton is my top choice for dining while at CIFF. The location is perfect because it's attached to Tower City. A short indoor stroll from the hustle and bustle of the theaters is an oasis of fabulous eats, drinks and service. The menu truly has something for everyone.

They offer a special CIFF menu for those trying to squeeze in a meal between films. They have 5 items under $20 that are ready in only 20 minutes - so there is no reason to eat the crappy fast food in the food court.
Turn also has a great Off the Clock Happy Hour Monday through Friday 4-7pm. It includes a luxe assortment of dishes from Truffle Popcorn to Angus Beef Slides, all $10 or under. Draft beer is $5 and wine is $7.

The Ritz also has a special Film Fest Fan Package that includes vouchers and valet parking to entice you to spend the night.
The Power Hour at Morton's is one of the best Happy Hours in Cleveland and is also conveniently located in Tower City. Sunday through Friday from 4:45 until 6:30pm and 9pm to close, you can sample some excellent appetizers for a steal. The four petite filet sandwiches for only $7 are legendary. So are the mini burgers.
If you need a really quick pick me up without leaving the building, Susy's Soup and Mixed Greens have soup, salads and sandwiches that are better than your average food court food and reasonably priced.

Nearby Dining Destinations

Take a quick trip across the street into Public Square to REBol, a tasty organic and non-GMO spot. The have all sorts of drinks including coffee, juices, smoothies, an amazing honey peanut butter milkshake and even a full bar. 

And definitely don't miss this tasty freebie being offered by Marriott at Key Tower! Bring in your Film Fest ticket stub and they will treat you to free BBQ chips and French Onion Dip.
Yep, it's completely free. No catches. No purchase necessary. But while you are there, I definitely recommend one of their tasty cocktails, trying out the new spring menu, or this amazing chocolate cake! The Great Room is a fun place to people watch while you refuel and get ready for the next round of films.
Pura Vida, Otani Noodle, Iron Chef Michael Symon's Mabel's BBQ + Lola, Butcher and the Brewer, Saigon, Chinato, The Greenhouse Tavern, and The Corner Alley are all a short walk up Euclid Ave. All of these spots have great food and atmosphere and you can't go wrong choosing any of them. 

Hodge's is just a bit further of a walk but is still a great choice. Last night we were able to walk in and get seats for four without a wait likely due to the nasty weather. The menu is small but the food is great.
The Caribbean jerked chicken nachos (seared sweet corn, jerk chicken, mango and chili salsa, guacamole, lime crème fraîche, white cheddar) are the perfect size for dinner for one or to split between four people and still have room for entrees. 
On Monday, burgers are 1/2 off. Take advantage of their 2 for $40 Tuesdays: 1 APPETIZER, 2 ENTRÉES + BOTTLE OF WINE = 40 BUCKS! And they have Happy Hour Monday – Saturday 4pm – 6:30pm and Sunday ALL DAY! (4pm – 9pm)
Masthead Brewing Co is worth the walk, or if the weather is wretched (hello spring snowstorm - I'm talking to you!) grab a Lyft. 

You will be rewarded with fantastic pizza and delicious local brews. Definitely try the Brussels sprouts or pretzel board if you're looking for something besides pizza - salads too.

If you have more time, you can also take a Lyft, Uber or even the Rapid Transit and expand your choices even more. Head to Ohio City, Asian Town or Tremont to take a bigger bite out of CLE. Existing Lyft customers can use code LYFT2CIFF and new customers can use code LYFTCIFFNEWBIE for a discount.

Heinen's has a GORGEOUS grocery store in the city that is perfect for grabbing snacks, cold brews, and pre-made food. Head upstairs to The Balcony Bar to sip on beer and wine and order appetizers.
If you are downtown during the weekdays, definitely stop by Bloom Bakery. The products are really excellent and the mission is even better. Owned by Towards Employment, Bloom Bakery employs individuals who face barriers in a steady job, providing them with training and a promising career in culinary arts. The only drawback is the hours are extremely limited and they are closed on the weekend.

There are a ton of food related Film Fest sponsors too - be sure to show them your appreciation for their help in making CIFF43 a success.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

CIFF43 ~ Your Guide to the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival

The 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival kicks off today! 

Every year it gets bigger and better. And every year I like to share with you some of my tips to help make your experience the best and top picks for films. Plus you'll get to see some of my favorite photos from previous festivals (and all my cool hairstyles lol)

CIFF43 takes place from Wednesday March 27th through Sunday April 7th, 2019. Most films are shown at Tower City Cinemas downtown Cleveland. It's one of the best film fests in the country so be sure to see what all the fuss is about. If you're a first timer or someone who has been attending for years, here are some ways to make sure you visit is as enjoyable as possible.

Tips and Tricks

Become a Member
This allows you to purchase your tickets before the public and gets you discounts on tickets, merchandise and more.

It gets crazy, especially on the weekends. Take public transportation or an Uber or Lyft for the easiest experience. You can park at Tower City for $5 if there are spots available (definitely not guaranteed so have a back up plan) - make sure you get your ticket validated.

Unlike a traditional movie theater experience, at the Film Fest you line up in the hallway before the films start. Seating is first come/first served so get there at least 20 minutes ahead of time to give yourself time to queue up. While you're in line, say hi to your neighbor. It's always fun to hear about the films that others are seeing. We see many of the same people each year and always look forward to seeing our "film fest friends."

Pod Cast
Check out the new pod cast CIFF Speaks for all sorts of insider information and interviews with filmmakers.

Day Pass
For a truly luxe experience, purchase a CIFF Day Pass. It includes:
  • All-access to CIFF43 screenings (no need to buy tickets!)
  • Access to the CIFF43 Hospitality Headquarters (with complimentary sips and snacks!)
  • Free Tower City Center valet parking

What to Wear
As mentioned previously, you'll be waiting in line. So make sure you wear comfy shoes. 

The hallway is normally drafty and cold and the theaters can get hot, so wear layers.

Do not wear hats because nobody wants to have their view blocked.

Please wear deodorant and keep the cologne or perfume to a minimum. In most theaters, every single seat will be taken so you will be sitting very close to your neighbors.

Sometimes you won't have time for a leisurely lunch in between films. Besides buying popcorn, drinks, and other items from the concessions, you may want to stash some healthy easy to eat items in your bag. Granola bars, trail mix and an apple are great choices. Do NOT eat your snacks inside the theater...especially the crunchy or smelly ones, or those in noisy wrappers.

Film Fest patrons are very serious about enjoying the films distraction free. So do everyone a favor and turn off your phone during the films. Don't text, talk, or eat noisy snacks. 

Movie Picks

My top picks are always French rom-coms, documentaries, Shorts and Czech films, but there truly is something for everyone at the Film Fest. If you don't like to read subtitles, there are even films for you! The films are serious, funny, and informative. Here are some films that sound like they will be great. (All film descriptions are from CIFF.)

100 Things

The write up sounded ok, but the trailer really sold me on this film. 

Toni and Paul are best friends who have created an app that gives cell phone voices personalities to match the owners. Unknown to Paul, Toni has used Paul’s prototype app to mine intimate personal data to encourage him to purchase more things. Paul is furious at being manipulated and exposed as materialistic. In a defiantly drunken bet, Paul challenges Toni to give up all their possessions for 100 days. Each day, they may take back one item apiece. The first to bail surrenders his shares of the personality app, which is being sold to a huge American company. As day one dawns, the two men start with literally nothing, including clothes and food. Let the games begin. 100 THINGS is a very funny and warm-hearted look at how we measure happiness with objects and equate consumption with contentment. Of course, the bet goes to hell in a designer hand basket. As events spiral downwards, 100 THINGS will send your spirits upwards as Toni and Paul discover the things they truly can’t do without. (In English and German with subtitles)

Is it really a film fest if you don't see some Shorts? In my opinion - no way! These brief films (some are only a couple minutes long!) are so much fun. They are able to set the scene and tell a story in such a short time it's incredible. They have Local Heroes (films made about Ohio, in Ohio, or by Ohioans), Comedy, After Hours, Animated and Watch Out! (films focusing on issues, topics, and stories from the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities.)

Winter Flies

When rebellious, angsty, and secretly sweet Mara decides to run away from home in a stolen Audi, his plans for a solo adventure are thwarted by Hedus, an overweight, clumsy younger boy who insists on joining him (in full camo gear). As the unlikely friends set out on a road trip across Czechia, their journey is anything but smooth. Complete with a canine sidekick, a fantastic escape scene, and the cringeworthy sexual frustrations of teenage boys, WINTER FLIES is the wonderfully strange, oddly magical coming-of-age film you didn’t know you were waiting for. (In Czech with subtitles)

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street

How did I now know this??

What is the gayest film ever? “Rocky Horror Picture Show?” “Mommie Dearest?” How about “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2?” Thirty-three years after its release, the horror sequel is still regarded as a gay camp classic, full of homophobic and homoerotic images. For one young actor, it was a true nightmare, effectively ending his film career. SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is a high-energy and thoughtful documentary that picks multiple fights and wins them all. It is the story of Mark Patton, the young gay star of the film. It is the tale of a homophobic and AIDS-phobic 1980s Hollywood. Finally, it is a look at the script of David Chaskin, who claimed there was no gay intent but blamed the film’s gayness on Mark. “Nightmare 2” labeled Mark as the new Scream Queen and forced him into Garbo-like exile. Mark is back now and ready to talk, big time. Full of wonderful film clips and celebrities, this is a defiant and triumphant story that nonetheless cautions today’s LGBTQ community that the nightmare isn’t over.

Hugh Hefner After Dark - Speaking Out in America 
While the old joke that some men only read Playboy for the articles is told with sarcasm, the truth is there was more to the late Hugh Hefner’s work than just centerfolds. His full revolutionary impact is revealed in this compelling documentary from Academy Award®-winning director Brigitte Berman. In 1959, Hefner started a television program called Playboy’s Penthouse. Set up to look like an apartment party, the variety show featured a slew of legendary performers. But it was its racial diversity that stood out most. Years before MTV was pressured to play black artists, Hefner gave them representation, regardless of the consequences. Despite it being the time of Jim Crow, everyone was treated as equals on Hefner’s show, much to the chagrin of some Americans. The program was canceled after two seasons, but reemerged later as Playboy After Dark, which continued to push for equality. In addition to performances from artists such as James Brown, Tina Turner, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Buddy Rich, the show featured candid conversations about censorship, racism, and progressive politics. Going beyond the bunnies, HUGH HEFNER’S AFTER DARK: SPEAKING OUT IN AMERICA examines Hefner’s unheralded role as civil rights activist.

Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People
At the height of the Gilded Age, a period of time plagued by corruption and unethical business practices, Joseph Pulitzer was a champion of the working people and immigrants. Being an immigrant from humble roots himself, he used the success of his newspaper, The World, to give voice to the voiceless and to empower the disenfranchised. With his passion for democratic ideals, Pulitzer fought for the free press and essentially created the news as we know it today. The entire concept of reading the newspaper as a morning ritual was invented by Joseph Pulitzer. Though his list of accomplishments seems unending, Pulitzer was a complicated and imperfect man, known for his sharp temper, poor health, and long list of enemies and rivals. This film is narrated by Adam Driver and features Liev Schreiber as Joseph Pulitzer in re-enactments. With stories told by a variety of historians and experts, JOSEPH PULITZER: VOICE OF THE PEOPLE is a fascinating look into the life, accomplishments, and legacy of the man behind the Pulitzer Prize

The Footballest
THE FOOTBALLEST is a fun-filled adaptation of The Mystery of the Sleeping Referees, a book in Roberto Santiago’s popular Spanish children’s series that shares the film’s name. It centers around Pakete, an 11-year-old soccer player on the Soto Alto school team, who has become a YouTube sensation for his painfully bad penalty shots. Because the team faces a demotion in league status, the school is considering ending the soccer program. In fact, they must win the next three games or the team is toast. For many of the players, this decision would have a ripple effect of consequences. To boost their chances of winning, the team’s coaches add an extremely talented player named Helena to the roster. But something weird starts happening at their matches: the referees keep falling asleep, prompting a seemingly biased substitute to take over. Is this a coincidence or a conspiracy? To get to the bottom of things, the curious athletes become detectives, doing anything they can to save their team. THE FOOTBALLEST is an absolute blast, blending comedy, mystery, adventure, and puppy love into one highly entertaining package the whole family can enjoy. (In Spanish with subtitles)

A Long Time Coming: A 1955 Baseball Story
In 1955 the southern United States was divided by segregation and brimming with hatred and prejudice. Enter the Pensacola Jaycees All-Stars, the first African-American little league team in Florida. White parents didn’t want their kids playing against black kids, and they complained to league leaders. However, the league ruled in favor of the Jaycees: white teams either played them or forfeited. And forfeit is exactly what they did—every team, every game. So, by default, the Jaycees became district champions and headed to Orlando for the state tournament. Once again they met resistance. Despite approving players and parents, the coach for the opposing Orlando Kiwanis wouldn’t play the Jaycees and quit. Luckily, the assistant coach stepped up and made history. More than 60 years later, they’re reunited in LONG TIME COMING: A 1955 BASEBALL STORY—a compelling documentary highlighting the cultural significance of their matchup. Through gripping interviews, the film also reveals their varying perspectives on the racial turmoil of then and now. This impactful film is a sobering testament to how far we’ve come in America, but how far we still have to go.

This year there are also special East and West Hubs for even more screenings than ever before! Perfect for those of you who don't want to head downtown.

University Circle
21 screenings from Thursday, April 4, 2019 - Saturday, April 6, 2019 at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Gordon Square Arts District
19 screenings from Thursday, March 28th - Saturday, March 30th at Near West Theatre and Capitol Theatre.
For more information check out the FAQs or check out The Daily.

Follow CIFF on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Stay tuned for my Best Places to Eat and Drink during CIFF.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Happy 1st Day of Spring

Are you as happy as I am that winter is "officially" over?? This winter has been brutal. I'm sure we'll still be seeing some more of that white fluffy stuff before it's REALLY over here in NE Ohio but we know there are warmer days ahead!

spring, umbrellas, weather, cleveland ohio
And today is Dairy Queen's fifth annual Free Cone Day and the chain is giving away free small vanilla soft-serve cones.

The event, which runs all day while supplies last at participating Dairy Queen and DQ Grill & Chill stores, also serves as a fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.