Friday, April 24, 2015

Best of the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, April 25 and 26.

Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.

Springtime in Chagrin Falls means two things. First there's the Memorial Day weekend "Blossom Time" community festival that customarily includes a massive hot-air balloon convention and flyover. But Chagrin Falls has another claim to fame in the spring. It's the "Best of the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival."

The actual CDFF a week-long celebration of the latest in nonfiction cinema, normally takes over the whole of the town in October. But as a runup to the 2015 edition, the CDFF is making Saturday a retrospective of highlights and audience-award winners from last year's fest.

It happens at the historic Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, 40 River St. At 12:30 p.m. STELLA WALSH, about the life and death of an Olympics-class Cleveland athlete, will screen. It was made by Akron-area filmmaker Rob Lucas.  

At 2:30 p.m. the CDFF presents FROM FARM TO FOOD PANTRY paired with URBAN FRUIT, paired (can three of something be a pair?) with a presentation on Cleveland's own practitioners in the "urban farm" movement.

At 4:30 p.m. the highlight feature will be TOM RUSH: NO REGRETS. Hopefully the hangover from downtown media-saturation coverage of the Rock Hall inductions will not sully your enjoyment of this tribut to a well-regarded singer-songwriter, co-directed by local musicologist Todd Kwait. The best news: changes of Miley Cyrus showing up in an embarrassing costume are minimal.

Tickets to the three feature-length presentations are $10 apiece. On Sunday, April 26, the CDFF visits the Mandel Jewish Community Center's auditorium, at 26001 South Woodland Road in Beachwood, for another encore, priced at only $8. 

It's ZEMENE, an offbeat and uplifting look at a medical relief effort in Ethiopia. Forget those dire TV-news stereotypes of merciless desert famine, misery and war. From the beautiful, modern bustling capital Addis Ababa to the quirky Dr. Rick Hodes, American-born and now observing Sabbat with Ethiopia's tiny native Jewish community, a too-rarely-seen Africa emerges in this film, with elements of faith, medical miracles, malice towards none and charity to all. 

For more information, updates and ticket purchases go to the website

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