Residents Screen Films for Chagrin Documentary Film Festival

Preparing for a film festival is a lot of work. One of the biggest tasks is screening and selecting the final films shown.

For the 2016 Chagrin Documentary Film Festival (CDFF), eight lucky South Franklin Circle residents are among the 25-to-30 volunteers helping festival Founder and Director Mary Ann Ponce screen films this summer.

CDFF is an international film festival dedicated to educating audiences and inspiring filmmakers to tell their stories. Every October, the festival brings art and culture to the village of Chagrin Falls, drawing audiences of all ages from around the world. In 2015, CDFF made’s list of the “Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.”

Screeners must view between 400-550 film submissions. Their goal is to narrow these down to a modest 60-70 films to be shown during the five-day festival.

The SFC screeners gather once a week at the community center where they screen films for a few hours, while resident Nancy Glende dutifully takes notes to record everyone’s opinions. CDFF requires that films be screened by at least three people, to consider a wide variety of opinions. Screeners are asked to set aside their personal and political views, and just assess the quality of the films.

But beyond all the rules and regulations, SFC residents enjoy participating in the process. “It’s fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at what films are considered,” says resident Bill Bauer.

Screening the films also offers residents a chance to understand the work that goes into film-making. “I now can admire how much effort, expertise, and expense goes into the making of a documentary,” says resident Roger Kallock.

In addition to having residents screen films, South Franklin Circle also serves as one of the eight venues for CDFF throughout the Village of Chagrin Falls. In fact, South Franklin Circle offers one of the largest seating options, accommodating up to 150 film goers.

With more than 8,000 attendees in 2015, and expecting over 10,000 this year, CDFF takes over the quaint Village of Chagrin Falls. Nationally and internationally recognized, CDFF Director Mary Ann Ponce is proud that the festival continues to grow in stature in the film world, and praises the support CDFF receives from volunteers and donors.

The residents enjoy having South Franklin Circle as a viewing venue. “It makes sense because we’re just as much a part of the greater Chagrin Valley community. I appreciate having the opportunity to volunteer my time,” says resident Nancy Glende.

Stay tuned for more about this internationally known film festival. The final films will be announced on August 15, and the full festival schedule will be published in early September. You can learn more at

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