Northeast Ohioans are big fans of a lot of things: craft beer, rock ‘n’ roll, farm-to-table comfort food and professional sports, to name a few. And with the continued growth of cinema-focused festivals like the one coming to Chagrin Falls this week, it seems we’re also big fans of the big screen. This year’s Chagrin Documentary Film Festival (Oct. 7 to 11) is expected to draw an audience of more than 7,000 to the historic community, including the filmmakers themselves.
Founder Mary Ann Quinn Ponce created the festival after losing her son David, a documentary filmmaker, to leukemia. His film, The Lost Sparrows of Roodepoort (Oct. 11) screens every year. “When I took his film to festivals I really experienced what it meant to these passionate filmmakers to have their work seen and appreciated,” says Ponce. “Our audience goes out of their way to make them feel welcome. They embrace these filmmakers.”
The festival has repeatedly made MovieMaker Magazine’s top 50 film festivals and two of its U.S. premieres went on to garner Oscar nominations. “We had two nominated films and one winner in two years. We’re extremely proud of that, but it is extremely unusual for an indie filmmaker to go that distance. It’s a bit like lightning striking,” explains Ponce, who also says entries have quadrupled in the Festival’s six short years. “We can tell from the quality and number of submissions we’ve received that we’re becoming a major part of the documentary circuit and we have every intention of growing this into a national and an international destination.”
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