What the Cleveland International Film Festival Means to Me

I am a freelance filmmaker. I'm sure some of you might read that sentence and think to yourself, "That and a quarter might get you a cup of coffee, buddy." There is a lot of uncertainty when you are a freelancer. When is my next job? Will I be able to pay the bills this month?

Sure, there are times I struggle, but I will tell you about the one consistency that I have been fortunate to have been a part of: every March and April, I am happily employed by the Cleveland International Film Festival. I often describe the the 12 days the festival is held, as the time to recharge my creative batteries. The combination of film, mingling with guest filmmakers, and working with 300 of the coolest people you will ever meet (most of whom are volunteering their time) is what brings me back.

As I am writing this, I am getting ready to head into Tower City for the final day of the festival. Often when I approach the end of a job, whether it be working on a film or in this case working with the film festival, I often have an indescribable sense of nostalgia. While some people may start or finish a job only a few times in their life, I may start and finish a job 20 times a year or more. Each and every one of them are meaningful in their own way, but this is the job I look forward to the most. Thank you Cleveland, for making the 40th so memorable for me, and I'll see you at the 41st.

Mike Wendt

I am a freelance filmmaker, born and raised in Cleveland.

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Posted 12:05 PM, 04.14.2016