A talk with Short. Sweet. Film Fest’s Creator

Alex Clarke, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Short. Sweet. Film Festival is six festivals strong, and will have their seventh this weekend Mar. 3-5 at the Alex Theater, which is a part of the Metropolitan at the 9 Hotel in Downtown Cleveland. Mike Suglio, a Case Western Reserve University graduate, co-created the festival, and we got to chat a bit about the art of short film and what makes Short. Sweet. so unique.

Q: Can you describe Short. Sweet. Film Fest in your own words?

A: The Short. Sweet. Film fest is mainly an opportunity to showcase the works of up and coming filmmakers in Cleveland as well as all around the world and bring these films to the Cleveland film community that doesn’t have the opportunity to see short films because the art form is kind of dwindling down to cat videos on YouTube. I want people to have the opportunity to see these great works.


Q: How much of the year do you spend planning the festival?

A: So I usually start taking submissions in June or July. And then I basically watch these movies until New Years Day, which is the final deadline. January is basically the administrative month, contacting the filmmakers and making spreadsheets … February is like my marketing, PR mode, talking to media and finalizing stuff on Facebook.


Q: What do you think make Short. Sweet. so unique as a film festival?

A: One thing is that it is 100 percent shorts. We’re showing 95 short films, and there were 205 submissions, which are both record highs. I watched every single one. [Another reason] is the food. There’s a full bar/restaurant right outside the theater, you can have real food instead of popcorn and Diet Pepsi. What is also unique is the vibe …. It’s an up-and-coming filmmakers vibe, those who are just starting in the film world. A less stuffy vibe.


Q: What is your favorite part of the weekend?

A: I really enjoy meeting the filmmakers, because I’m talking to these guys on-and-off about their films up to the festival, and I end up learning something about them. And art is personal you know, so I get a lens into their creativity so it’s nice to talk to them. I really enjoy seeing a packed house too, it’s really rewarding to know that I co-planned this and 100 people are spending their Friday night here.


Q: What are the categories of the films being shown?

A: Fiction, nonfiction and animation, which are the original three categories that we’ve had since the beginning. Then there’s local, films made in Northeast Ohio, student, international and what’s new this year is horror, experimental—which ended up being pretty darn cool, seeing things I haven’t seen before—and we added LGBTQ.


Q: This is the third time you’ve had the festival at the Alex Theater at Metropolitan at the 9, what’s been so great about the venue?

A: The theater is beautiful—it’s this gorgeous theater with a great projector. It’s perfectly acoustically sound, they have these large leather seats, so the 9 is a great theater. The 9 is so generous that they gave the filmmakers discounts and the filmmakers love staying there. And the beautiful Heinen’s is right next to it as well.


Q: There’s a lot of networking throughout the weekend, what is your goal of having so many opportunities to socialize?

A: Film is quite a collaborative form of art, it’s one of the most [collaborative], so what is nice is that other filmmakers can meet filmmakers and can maybe make a new short film. I’m an adjacent professor at [Cleveland State University], and I encourage my students to meet these filmmakers and pick their brains—to learn and grow as an artists. Even veterans can learn something from up and coming filmmakers.


Q: Is there anything else you would like people to know about Short. Sweet.?

A: The big thing I want people to know is the CWRU connection. The Frontier by Andrew Santin is showing on Friday, who just graduated [from CWRU] and I know this is one of his final senior projects. It stars all CWRU students and a professor in the theater department, David Vegh.

What’s also cool is that we have music throughout the festival and actually two-thirds of the performances are CWRU graduates. Basically the whole festival is staffed by the graduates.