CLEVELAND — One of the largest and longest-running film festivals in the country is in Ohio.
What You Need To Know
- The Cleveland International Film Festival will screen more than 300 films during the in-person event at Playhouse Square
- Todd Thompson is a Cleveland native whose documentary “Pre Fab!” will screen as a part of the Local Heroes Competition at the festival because of his Ohio roots
- “Pre Fab!” shares the story of the Beatles before they were the Fab Four
More than 300 total feature-length and short films are scheduled to be screened during the event, which runs in-person March 22 – April 1, and virtually April 2 – 9.
Todd Thompson grew up in Parma and is screening a film for the first time at the festival. He said he’s excited to share his work with a hometown crowd.
“I think it’s a story everyone’s gonna love, whether you’re a music fan or not,” he said. “You’re just gonna love the story.”
The story is a prequel of sorts to Beatlemania.
“I always loved Beatles’ music growing up, but now after this five-year journey, I’ve got a whole new level of appreciation for their music and their lyrics,” he said.
He’s bringing to the screen drummer Colin Hanton’s unique insight into the Fab Four before they were famous.
“Colin Hanton is the only man alive who was there the day John Lennon fell in love with rock ’n’ roll, he was there the day John met Paul (McCartney), and he was there the day Paul introduced everyone to George (Harrison),” Thompson said. “There’s only one person on planet earth that can say that and it’s Colin Hanton.”
Appropriately titled “Pre Fab!,” the rock-documentary will screen at 2:40 Sunday, March 26, at Keybank State theatre as a part of the Local Heroes Competition at the festival.
“It’s an honor to be selected, number one, and then to show it in your hometown, Cleveland, which is the rock and roll capital of the world, what a great opportunity to introduce a Beatles story,” Thompson said.
A trip to see “Star Wars” at age 7 sparked Thompson’s love for the movies.
“I think I drove my parents crazy a year after the at the dinner table every single night,” he said. “Asking about the characters. Why did this happen? Who was this person?”
It inspired an interest in storytelling, getting family members and neighbors in on the act.
“I came home and immediately started writing and putting on plays and shooting little eight millimeter movies with my grandpa’s camera,” he said.
He said his film career came full circle when he got to perform some work for his last documentary, “Woman in Motion” at Star Wars creator George Lucas’ facility.
“To be inspired by Star Wars and then, you know, competing your first movie at Skywalker sound was really quite a journey for me,” he said.
A love for film seems to run in Thompson’s family. He said his aunt and uncle owned the Medina Theater while he was growing up, which provided a steady stream of screening opportunities and a chance to go behind the scenes.
“With this extremely large man named Big Charlie,” he said. “Who would take these big enormous reels off the projectors and change off the reels. I got to learn how that happened and help him with that.”
But now it’s time for Thompson’s work to shine on the big screen. He said he’s excited for his family and festival goers to see his latest labor of love.
“To sit in a dark theater and just experience it with audiences for the first time will be really cool,” he said. “Just to see what the reactions are and how to see how the story plays for them.”
For a full schedule of the festival, click here.