The 43rd Cleveland International Film Festival will kick off its 12-day run with a story of love and forgiveness and close with a look at the power of social justice. 

The festival’s opening film will be “The Etruscan Smile,” which follows the story of Rory MacNeil, an old-fashioned Scottish man who travels from his beloved and beautifully slow-paced home on Hebridean Island to seek medical treatment in fast-paced, high-tech San Francisco. Rory finds himself and his world transformed when he moves in with his estranged son and forms an unbreakable bond with his grandson. 

The film, based on the bestselling book, “La Sonrisa Etrusca” by Jose Louis Sampedro, stars a bevy of acclaimed and talented actors, including Brian Cox, Rosanna Arquette, Thora Birch, JJ Feild, Peter Coyote and Treat Williams. It’s produced by Arthur Cohn, winner of multiple Academy Awards, and co-directed by Mihal Brezis and Oded Binnun.

CIFF43 will close with “The Public,” directed by, written by and starring Emilio Estevez. The film’s story unfolds when a record-setting cold spell hits Cincinnati and the public library becomes an unlikely stage for a protest in which issues of homelessness and human rights take the spotlight. Estevez stars alongside an ensemble cast including Alec Baldwin, Jena Malone, Christian Slater, Gabrielle Union, Taylor Schilling, Jacob Vargas, Michael Kenneth Williams and Jeffrey Wright.

PHOTO | The Public

CIFF43 will be run from March 27 to April 7 at Tower City Cinemas as well as the Gordon Square Arts District and University Circle.

“The Etruscan Smile” will screen at 7 p.m. March 27 at Playhouse Square. Tickets are $225 per person ($200 for CIFF members) for an evening that includes the screening in Connor Palace followed by a reception in the KeyBank State Theatre. 

All those in attendance at any of the closing night films showing April 7 at Tower City Cinemas, including “The Public,” are invited to the closing night ceremony (dessert reception and awards presentation) around the Tower City Center Grand Staircase after the screenings. Tickets to any closing night film are $14 for CIFF members and $16 for nonmembers. Closing night is sponsored by University Hospitals.

For more information on the more than 500 screenings that will be shown during CIFF43, visit beginning at 11 a.m. March 1. Program Guides will be available at all Dollar Bank branches and throughout the region the week of March 4.

Tickets go on sale to CIFF members at 11 a.m. March 8 and to the public at 11 a.m. March 15. Tickets will be available online at, by phone at 1-877-304-FILM (3456) or in person at the film festival box office in the lobby of Tower City Cinemas.

Lead image: PHOTO | The Etruscan Smile