Thursday, October 8, 2015

Visit the Nonfiction section, as The Chagrin Documentary Film Festival returns, Oct. 7-11.

Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.

Now in its sixth year, the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival is northeast Ohio's contribution to a boom in recent film festivals (like the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and Canada's HotDocs) uniquely devoted to nonfiction features and shorts.

The CDFF takes place from Wednesday, Oct. 7, through Sunday, Oct. 11, at venues throughout the famously postcard-pretty village of Chagrin Falls on the eastern side of Cuyahoga County. Screening sites - most of which are all within nice walking distances from one another - range from the big school auditorium on Philomethian Street to the more salon-like environment of the Valley Art Center.

Highlights include two screenings of LANDFILL HARMONIC, a regional premiere of a feature from Paraguay (where else can you see a feature from Paraguay?) about an orchestra made up poor kids living adjacent to one of the South American nation's largest landfills, who play instruments kludged together from recycled materials. Radius Restaurant, in Chagrin Falls, has put together a special south-of-the-border theme dinner in tribute to this film.

On Friday night at 8:30 p.m. at Chagrin Falls Township Hall, Jim Tews' one-hour film MAKE FUN, about Cleveland's stand-up comedy scene, will be accompanied by a live stand-up sets from area comedians.

Making its Ohio premiere, LOVE AND MARRIAGE IN KABUL goes inside the labyrinth of negotiations and drama that accompany traditional arranged marriages and dowries in the strife-torn Afghan capital city (come on, it can't possibly be worse than non-arranged marriages, right?).

In another international entry, Iran's I WANT TO BE KING focuses on a Persian "eco-tourism" entrepreneur with big dreams to establish his own tribe and declare himself a monarch - and take a queen, which doesn't sit well with his present wife. It is no relation to - or is it? - ORION: THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, a fascinating pop-culture recap of yesteryears mini-hysteria over Sun Records singer Jimmy Ellis, who was taken by believers to be...Elvis Presley coming out of the shadows after faking his own death.

A Sino-American production, THE ANGEL OF NANJING, profiles a man who makes it his duty to rescue and counsel potential suicide victims at the Yangtze River Bridge, the most famous bridge in China which, like San Francisco's Golden Gate, attracts a large number of despairing jumpers.

A Cleveland Clinic physician Q&Q accompanies SEMICOLON: THE ADVENTURES OF OSTOMY GIRL, about a young woman using wry humor in her surgical ordeal resulting from Crohn's disease. 

For star power, imagine actor-polymath James Franco behind the camera for his directorial feature effort I THINK YOU'RE TOTALLY WRONG: A QUARREL. It is an adaptation of the book of the same name, following Caleb Powell, an art student who abandoned that path to take a simple family life, and his continuous debates about that choice with his high-achieving former professor David Shields.

One should not overlook the Sunday 3:15 p.m. screening of the half-hour THE LOST SPARROWS OF ROODEPORT, made by about a church-run orphanage and AIDS hospice in South Africa. The filmmaker, Chagrin Falls native David Ponce, died at 20 of leukemia in 2006 during post-production, and his family founded the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival in his honor, and to continue telling stories from around the world through the medium he loved best, nonfiction film.

Tickets to features and feature-length short-subject bundles are $10. Other payment plans are available, right up to the all-access festival pass of $75. For full information and schedules, go online to

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