Monday, October 6, 2014

Truth and consequences at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival Oct. 8-12.

[Event Preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.]

FACT: The mainstream movie industry has just experienced its worst summer in a dozen-and-a-half years

FACT: If you wanted to carry home any remotely good memories of fictional-narrative cinema in 2014, you probably should have quit right after seeing THE LEGO MOVIE during the deep winter.

FACT: Documentaries, however, are not fictional narrative cinema. And the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, now in its fifth year, is full of documentaries. And documentaries are full of FACTS.

The CDFF takes place from Wednesday, Oct. 8, through Sunday, Oct. 12, at venues throughout the famously postcard-pretty village of Chagrin Falls on the eastern side of Cuyahoga County. Screening and special-events sites range from the Chagrin Valley Little Theater to several local churches to the Judson Manor.

Though films begin as early as 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday (with a two-fer about adoption, the short AN ADOPTEE ROARED IN OHIO matched with the feature A SIMPLE PIECE OF PAPER both made by Jean Strauss), the official Festival opening bash happens at 7 p.m. at the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, with the midwest premiere of filmmaker David Schulte's 22-minute THE CURSE AND THE SYMPHONY, about Nathan Felix, an Austin, Texas, punk rocker and self-taught classical composer going to extremes to realize his goal of having his own symphony performed by a legit orchestra. Schulte and Felix will be present to answer questions after the presentation.

The Chagrin Documentary Film Festival is renown for its musical tie-ins and interactive events. On Thursday, Oct. 9, at 5:30 p.m., a whiskey tasting/happy hour will accompany the short STRAIGHT UP: TENNESSEE WHISKEY, a history of the state's venerable distilling tradition, at the old Chagrin Falls Township Hall on North Main Street. The closing short, REFLECT RECLAIM REJOICE, about efforts to preserve the original “Negro spiritual” tradition of black American sacred music, will be paired with a live concert by the Antioch Baptist Choir at 6:30 p.m. Sunday Oct. 12, at the Federated Church.

Other noteworthy titles include local filmmaker Laura Paglin with her FACING FORWARD: A STUDENT’S STORY, a short-feature look inside a Cleveland charter school (shows 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 9, at the Chagrin Valley Little Theater). HOTLINE (7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6 at the Federated Church, 5:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10 at Franklin Circle) is a funny, moving and sometimes alarming who-are-these-people look at phone-hotline workers, from sex lines to psychic advisors to suicide prevention. Quite possibly the great Sid Caeser’s last film, LUNCH (noon on Friday, Oct. 10 and 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12, both at South Franklin Circle) eavesdrops on a informal club of top Hollywood comedy writers and gagmen who met for lunch regularly for four decades.

The CDFF awards presentation featuring Jan Jones and Jan Evans, takes place Saturday, Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Chagrin Valley Little Theater.

Tickets to features and feature-length short-subject bundles are $10 and can be purchased in advance at Chagrin Falls Township Hall (during 11 am to 3 pm. and via the festival website. Other payment plans are available, right up to the all-access festival pass of $70. For full information and schedules, go online to

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