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Cleveland International Film Festival 2019: Movie marathon lands new role in streaming era

On Wednesday, the Cleveland International Film Festival will open its 43rd installment. It kicks off with “The Etruscan Smile,” a heartfelt drama that screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Connor Palace in Playhouse Square.

The festival will roll out 211 feature films and 237 shots from 71 countries to Cleveland. It runs through Sunday April 7. 

For years, film festivals such as CIFF provider movie buffs with their one and only chance to see a film. That’s changing, especially with the rise of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hula. 

“There are so many films that are going online and in this glut and overload of streaming you have people asking themselves, ‘What should I watch?’” says Guentzler, who has been artistic director with CIFF since 2004. “That’s where the curation you get from film festivals comes into play – and why, increasingly, they are becoming part of a larger journey for film fans.” 

When the Cleveland festival debuted in 1977, there were about two dozen film festivals around the country. It was the only chance for most of the films to be seen. 

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