For the past two years, Movie Maker magazine has named the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival one of the top 50 film fests "worth the entry fee." It's easy to see why. The festival is a real bargain. And people have started to notice; it's continually grown in its five years of existence, last year drawing some 6,000 attendees to tiny Chagrin Falls, a city with a population of 4,000.
Now in its fifth year, this year's film festival, which takes place from Oct. 8 to 12, has plenty to offer. It will feature some 25 documentaries that will be world, Midwest or Ohio premieres. The list of world premieres includes The Forgotten Soldier (Hungary), North into the Mist (Norway, Israel), Of Land and Water (USA, Mongolia) and Hotcards and the City on Fire (USA). Films of local interest include The Sax Man, Joe Siebert's documentary about Maurice Reedus Jr., the guy you see on the downtown streetcorners after sporting events and concerts, and A Whole Lott More, a documentary about Lott Industries, the Toledo-based company that employs people with developmental disabilities. David Purpera documents the life of Black Pig chef Michael Nowak in The Steel-Fired Story of Chef Michael Nowak and Fred Endres chronicles the rise and fall of Brady Lake Park in Seances and Slot Machines: The Story of Brady Lake Park.
The festival kicks off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 8, with an opening night bash featuring a screening of The Curse and the Symphony, a film about a musician's quest to break into the classical music world. Director David Schulte will be in attendance for the screening. A number of special events, including luncheons, talks and panel discussions follow. The festival closes with a special screening of Reflect, Reclaim, Rejoice: Preserving the Gift of Black Sacred Music, a film about how black sacred music is losing its hold on the collective memory. That takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 12, at the Federated Church in Chagrin Falls.
A festival pass costs only $70 (but special screenings require a separate admission) and can be purchased online at chagrinfilmfestival.org. A complete schedule is available online as well.