Posted February 18, 2013 by Sam in Art

Short Sweet Film Fest: A Cleveland celebration of concise creativity

Short Sweet Film Festival
Short Sweet Film Festival

Now in its second year, the Short.Sweet.Film Fest offers a mix of local and international short films, including documentaries and animated shorts. This year the intimate celebration of concise creativity takes place on February 23 and 24 at The Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland, Ohio. Organizers Michael Suglio [photo left] and Alex Pavloff [photo right] talked about the event over a few beers. You can find a complete schedule and more info on their website and more details on the event via their Facebook page.

How did you come up with the idea for the Festival?
Alex: We were at a friend’s show and a couple of other bands were playing that night at Now That’s Class, a bar in Cleveland. We were thinking about that element of bands playing to other bands and thought there was no niche like that for filmmakers. It dawned on us, after a few beers, that we should have a film festival at a bar.

Michael: It’s so challenging to find a good venue to have your stuff shown. I’m a filmmaker myself and I realized quickly that I wasn’t the only one having that problem. So we started getting the wheels turning and thought of a space.

What is your shared interest in films?
Michael: We both really like documentaries and non-fiction. I studied theater and political science at school. I just started making movies on my own and did a documentary called The Struggle for Existence. I got the money to make it by applying for grants. It came out in 2009. It showed at a few festivals like Chagrin Documentary Film Fest. I sold some copies.

Alex: There was no filmmaking course at my school. I did find myself in film theory classes. I’ve always liked movies. I liked the world of watching films and analyzing them.

What was your favorite part of last year’s festival?
Michael: My favorite part of last year was having the filmmakers come in and speak about the movies. We try to focus on that. You have a chance to have a beer and then ask them all the questions you want. It’s great. That was my favorite.

Alex: That helps us showcase the local filmmakers. We try to give them 5-10 minutes to field questions and talk about the process of making the film they show. A lot of the filmmakers have taken a similar path. It’s cool to have everybody in the room comparing notes. The first question is always, “What camera did you use?” It’s like the bands playing to bands. Filmmakers showing their films to filmmakers. We do get some other people, too, of course.

What percentage of directors showed up?
Michael: I would say it’s about a third of the filmmakers are there. We had one guy from L.A. — Mitch Urban — who came in with a black-and-white 8mm horror film called Braineater that he shot entirely in his backyard.

How do you get the word out about the festival?
Alex: The industry submission system is called Withoutabox. Once you submit something there, you’re on the database. We had some issues this year because of Hurricane Sandy. They’re in New York and their servers went down so we lost some submissions.

How does the judging work?
Michael: We screen the film and say thumbs up or down. In terms of judging, we want to be objective, so we have a filmmaker and a film professor involved.

How many films do you get?
Michael: About 40. It’s over two days. They’re all under 25 minutes. Categories are fiction, non-fiction or animation. Student films are accepted. We have separate recognition for student and local films as well.

What are some of the films to look forward to this year?
Michael: We have one called Fusion, a documentary about bringing different dance troupes from around the world to Cleveland and having them educate each other. It’s awesome. It’s by a local filmmaker named Travis Pollert who did a music video for Attack Cat for their song called “Remarkable.”

Alex: Jake Kostelnik  is a young filmmaker from Cleveland State University. He had a great film last year called Self Storage. Over the course of the year, he made another movie called Delivery in 29 about pizza delivery people who have to deliver pizzas in under 30 minutes. It’s really funny.

Do you have any animated films?
Michael: Yes. One is called Shift Plus from a guy in Cincinnati named Aaron Lenard. It’s like a Wreck-It Ralph movie about video games.

Alex: Another animated one is called The Bird. It’s about a minute long and it’s animated by one of my coworkers at the Akron Museum of Art. Alex Strader, my coworker, has fantastic drawings of people who are borderline grotesque. It’s a movie about a guy who will not stop talking and a young woman with a baby. It’s really weird, but it’s also really cool. His drawings are always captivating. He has a unique style.

How do you finance this?
Alex: We do have some gracious sponsors and we try to get local businesses involved.

Do you think you’ll outgrow the space?
Alex: We haven’t thought about it. It’s a good space and they’re good to us there.

Michael: We’re striving to be casual. You’re watching movies and having a beer and having a good time. We want to make a unique film festival for local filmmakers, and we want that film festival to be different from everything else in the area.


Sam is live-music -loving vegetarian communications professional with an entertainment, travel and tourism background. A restless soul, Sam believes in getting out there and doing things because you only go around once but knows she could benefit from a little more sleep. Give her a reason to see a movie, catch a concert or explore a new destination at [email protected].