CLEVELAND -- Cleveland's 37th International Film Festival is just five days away and its crew and an army of volunteers are scrambling to be ready when the curtain goes up at Tower City Wednesday.
The Festival will feature a record 345 films from 65 countries.
It's been expanded from last year's 11 to 12 days. For the first time, films are being shown in the surrounding cities of Akron and Oberlin.
The festival's stature as one of the largest in the eastern half of the United States is growing.
Associate Director Patrick Shepherd said, "We have a sterling international reputation. If you are in Europe and tell somebody you are from Cleveland, they will tell you you have a great orchestra and a great film festival."
The films include shorts, documentaries, ethnic films, women's films, "green" films and more.
The schedule is laid out on a wall and a half of post-it notes and is changing day by day.
For the latest information about the festival , go to www.clevelandfilm.org.
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Opening Night Gala April 3
The Gala includes the film at 7 p.m. at Tower City Cinemas, followed by a "THE KINGS OF SUMMER" party at 9 p.m. at MK Ferguson Plaza in Tower City Center.
Related article: Local filmmaker Tyler Davidson's movie opens CIFF (Watch movie trailer)
Download the CIFF 37th annual program
Volunteers are busy packing T-shirts, souvenirs and helping with last-minute details.
Lakewood's J.D. Frost considers himself a movieholic and is planning to attend 45 films.
"This is the best time of the year...These are films you probably wouldn't see at the local multiplex," he said.
20-year volunteer Bill DeCapite and his wife especially enjoy the short films.
"In the Oscars, they have shorts. You can't see shorts unless you come to the film festival," he said.
Volunteer Katie Woods drives from Wellington to help. She is usually busy during the screenings and can't see the movies. She believes the movies are an important educational tool.
"I think it's important for people to hear about different cultures," she said.
Cleveland's growing role as a moviemaking center complements the festival.
"All the work the Film Commission does complements the work we do and vice versa," Shepherd said.
Many movies that are made locally are shown in the festival.
This year's opening night gala event is one such movie.
"The Kings of Summer" was made by Tyler Davidson, a local moviemaker of growing prominence who grew up in Chagrin Falls and now lives in Geauga County.
Last year, more than 85,000 film buffs attended the festival, pumping about $4.4 million into the local economy.
Brittyn Dewerth, who designed the artwork and logos for this year's festival, said, "It's energizing. It's educational and it's such a positive thing for Cleveland."
Festival promoters suggest those in Northeast Ohio coming down to Tower City take RTA, if possible, to avoid parking issues.
See RTA routes, schedules