For the first time in its 42-year history, the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) is partnering with a college radio station—Case Western Reserve University’s own WRUW—as a media sponsor, giving students exclusive access to tickets and more.
“If students listen to WRUW in the weeks leading up to [CIFF], which is [going to] be April 4 through 15, they can win tickets or vouchers to specific showings or other showings in general,” said Rachel Hunt, a CWRU alumna and community sponsor of WRUW.
The CIFF has a long tradition of showcasing films which are international or independent, and oftentimes films which are both. In that way, it and WRUW share a similar goal: showcasing artists and filmmakers who do not receive widespread recognition in mainstream radio or film.
“It’s a good spotlight for WRUW and for CWRU in general to be involved in some sort of aspect with [the CIFF],” Hunt said. “So much of the music we listen to is inspired by film. We really work hard to give independent artists a platform on WRUW, and I think that in a lot of ways, movies do a very similar thing.”
WRUW first became involved with the CIFF several years ago, but on a small scale; the group helped organize and coordinate certain events and various giveaways. This, however, is the first year CIFF has taken on a college radio station as an official media sponsor.
Since its establishment in 1977, the CIFF showcases movies from across the world at Tower City Cinemas for a two week period. For CIFF newcomers, Hunt offered her own advice for making the experience as rewarding and enjoyable as possible.
“The most important thing is to look through the program guide,” Hunt said. “The film festival comes out with these program guides [every year], and students will start seeing them around campus; I believe [the guides are released] March 12, and they list all the movies. They have them all alphabetically listed, they have what language they’re in [and] they have what sidebar they’re in. [The guides list] the schedules for every day, so you can really also sit down and pick out times that you’re available.”
CIFF encourages participants to celebrate their own cultures.
Hunt said, “If you’re looking for a way to connect in Cleveland to wherever you may be from, it’s kind of awesome, because you do get a good showing of people coming out to support the movie that are also from that heritage.”
Furthermore, as Hunt explained, students who are currently enrolled in a foreign language class and watch a movie of that language at the CIFF, not only is it an immersive learning experience, but it also provides a look into a country’s culture.
WRUW has come a long way over the past half-century, now engaging in sponsorships and partnerships with groups across Cleveland.
“We just actually sponsored a festival that happened this past weekend, Brite Winter, which happens at The Flats,” fourth-year Nurahn Abouzahra, the general manager of WRUW, said. “During the summer, we remote broadcast certain events, like Hessler Street Fair.”
Abouzahra says that making community partnerships remains one of her biggest goals with the station.
“[CIFF] was a great opportunity, and we want more partnerships like that with different festivals that come through Cleveland, possibly,” she said.
WRUW plans to make that connection with CIFF even stronger in the future.
“I really hope we can present a movie at [CIFF],” Hunt said. “Organizations that present movies get to deliver a short message before the screening, which can be both good publicity for these organizations and an educational experience for audiences.”
To students, Hunt says to just enjoy the experience.
“Take two weeks and go,” she said. “Just treat yourself to a bunch of movies.”