Cancel Your Plans, It's Time For GCUFF

The Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival is returning to Shaker Square Cinemas on September 20th.  In its 7th year this year’s film festival runs 9 days and features both full length and short films from both established and aspiring artist, panel discussions, and networking opportunities.

Created with a mission to preserve, promote and celebrate African American cinema, while fostering a deeper appreciation of the arts all while create a memorable social experience that uplifts consciousness through the visual arts. I’ve attended films during past GCUFF festivals and I am looking forward to experiencing more of what GCUFF has to offer.

One of the things I’m most looking forward to is meeting or hearing from the people behind the films. It is so amazing and inspiring to meet people who have turned their visions into reality. During the Cleveland’s International Film Festival earlier this year Chauna and I got the chance to meet and talk to the people behind the hybrid film Liyana and I’m hoping to connect with them again. I also have been learning about This One’s For the Ladies from the director, Gene Graham, so I’ll be going to see the film and will finally get to meet him face to face.

 Shana and Chauna with Liyana animator Shofela Coker at CIFF42

Shana and Chauna with Liyana animator Shofela Coker at CIFF42

I’m also looking forward to the films, of course.  I am looking forward to seeing some of the films I missed at CIFF, seeing some for a 2nd time, and seeing some films I’ve never heard of but they look interesting.  Some of the films I am looking forward seeing are;

 Liyana- Photo courtesy of A. Kopp

Liyana- Photo courtesy of A. Kopp

**Please note these are my personal choices for films go see, Black Girl in CLE get no perks or payments for recommending theses films.

Liyana- From executive director Thandie Newton is a must see. There is so much to say that this was one of the few time that we’ve ever posted to blogs about the same experience. Read Shana’s and Chauna’s reviews of this movie or watch the trailer here.

The Carter Effect- A movie from Lebron James’ multimedia company features cameo’s from NBA players as well as Drake. Watch trailer here or read our review after seeing it at CIFF

This One’s For the Ladies- This is an exotic dance documentary that focuses on sisterhood and the community built around a mostly male exotic dancers. Not just about dancing but you’ll learn more about the men and women that find love and support in this community. Bonus: Parts of this film was shot in Cleveland. Learn more

Alaska is a Drag-This was one of the films I wanted to see at CIFF but couldn’t fit it into my schedule Watch trailer here

REPAIRations! The Musical- A hip hop musical part of Shorts program #5 learn more

I’ll spare you the rest but just know there are so many films that piqued my interest. I am hoping to be able to see them all during these next 9 days. Check out the online program guide for events and film descriptions.

 Photo courtesy of Gene Graham

Photo courtesy of Gene Graham

The Shorts

The Short Programs have always been a favorite of my GCUFF experience.  If you’re not familiar with the Shorts Programs they are a cluster of short films ranging from 3 to 30 minutes to run the length of a full feature.  

This year’s festival offers 9 Shorts programs to choose from and I’m already having a hard time deciding which to see.  My only advice is to stay for the full series of films. I’ve seen people come to a short film to support the filmmaker or see a specific film then leave, which can be distracting to others, a little rude and I think a waste of your money since you’re paying the same amount for a longer film.  Plus, I’ve seen some really cool shorts I would’ve slept on had I left early

Shaker Sq Cinemas

Some advice for an enjoyable GCUFF experience:

  • Download the app:  It the easiest way to stay up to day of schedule changes and your movie schedule. Download the GCUFF 2018 app on from Google Play or the App Store

  • Give it a try:  GCUFF is a great way to pick a movie based on pure interest instead of marketing.  I’ve seen documentaries, shorts from local artist and other films that I would’ve probably passed on if it had to go up against the mainstream movie marketing marching

  • Plan your schedule: Use the website or app and come up with a list of films you are interested in seeing.  Some of the films run only once while others have multiple showings. Create your plan to avoid scheduling conflicts and so you don’t miss out on a film your really wanted to see.

  • Don’t be afraid to go alone: I get it, for some going to the movies alone can be scary. Don’t let that stop you from missing a great film that you may not get to see again.

  • Have fun: There are so many additional events and activities besides seeing films. There is a kickoff party on Friday night at MOCA, a monologue competition with a chance to win $500, and a BeFree Meetup

If you want to be more involved with the festival there are also volunteer opportunities

 Photo courtesy of the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival

Photo courtesy of the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival


One last thing…Just because the films are geared towards the African American experience that doesn’t mean that GCUFF is only for Black people to attend. GCUFF is open to people of all backgrounds. There are some films that deal with intersectionality and alternative lifestyles as well. It’s definitely worth spending some time to find a film to see and support Black filmmaking.


Are you heading to GCUFF, what do you plan to see?  Share your film choices by commenting below and share your photos on social media by using our hashtag #CLEblackgirl or #GCUFF.


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