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MARCH 16, 2008    

The final day (Spring Break & Film Festival)

Bomb It!
Bomb It! thumbnailI started my Sunday not with a church service but with a Cleveland International Film Festival movie about graffiti. Bomb It is filled with energy, anger, frustration and pride. It follows individual graffiti artists and crews through the subway tunnels and alleys of New York, Philadelphia, LA, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Paris, Amsterdam and other cities around the world. The message alternates between hope and despair as we meet both the graffiti artists and those who consider graffiti to be vandalism, crime and anarchy. The real strength of the film is that it gets right in the middle of the action, and lets people and their work speak for themselves. Sometimes the people disagree, and we're left to decide for ourselves. I found myself sometimes sympathizing with one side, sometimes the other. As I watched I thought about showing it to students, and I'm not sure how I'd answer some of the questions sure to come up. That probably means it would be worth doing.
Angels Among Us
This collection of short films had a positive message—I hope that isn't why of all the movies showing at the end of the Festival it was the only one not on Standby for seats. The theater was less than half full. Last night's dark, apocalyptic Exodus played to a packed house.
One Bridge to the Next thumbnail But of tonight's more uplifting offerings, One Bridge to the Next was the best. A documentary based on the organization Operation Safety Net, a Pittsburgh group that brings medical services to the homeless, it put very human faces on people we try to not look at most of the time. It gave them the respect we usually don't.

Festival Wrap-up

One of the people I talked with in the Hospitality suite at the Film Festival pointed out that the CIFF is unique among major film festivals because nearly all the films are shown at the same place. The festival takes over six of the eleven Tower City Cinemas screens and shows at least five films a day on each. What this means is that lots of folks spend days and days hanging out together watching movies, talking about movies, or taking a break from movies. There's a real sense of community that makes the festival more than just a bunch of movies.

This spirit—fostered and developed by the CIFF itself—was evident at the free "wrap" party that began when Sunday's last films ended. Everyone was invited, and we all got free champagne and pastries. Various awards were announced, and then the attendance figures for this year's festival. CIFF Executive Director Marcie Goodman pointed out that due to the big snowstorm last weekend, festival attendance going into Monday was 4,000 below last year. But then...

From the audience response you can tell how much people care about this event. In a city that has more than its share of bad news, this is a wonderful thing.


All good things must end, and tomorrow it's back to work as usual. I had great plans for spending an hour or two each day over Spring Break grading projects. Didn't happen. I figured I'd work on improving this website with some cleaner code and new additions. Not much got done beyond regular updates. I thought that I'd devote a day or so to trying to work on mScape problems that halted the GPS/interactive project. Nope.

Mostly I saw a lot of movies, cooked dinner four or five times, did some walking and more reading and well, took a break. I probably will regret that in the weeks to come, since the work still needs to get done, but for now I'm OK with it.

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MARCH 2008