Friday, April 15, 2016
'Fixers' filmmakers hope to show less sanitized version of Cleveland before Republican National Convention
CLEVELAND, Ohio - With the Republican National Convention just a few months away, a group of local filmmakers plans to screen a series of short documentaries that they hope will highlight the issues that affect people in Cleveland outside of the city's polished downtown.
"Each of these films is an entry point to gain insight into what is happening (in Cleveland)," said Kate Sopko, an artist who helped organize the "Fixers" film series and produced five of the films. "We want to start a dialogue."
The filmmakers include Robert Banks, Angela Beallor, Chelsie Corso, Tom Laffay, Elizabeth Press and Paul Sobota. The "Fixers" series takes it name from the habit of hiring well-connected locals to help outside journalists covering an area they are unfamiliar with. The fixers act as translators, but also introduce a reporter to the movers and the shakers in the local community and help them tell a more authentic story, Sopko said.
The filmmakers hope the seven movies - which will last around five minutes each - will counter what they consider the overly sanitized image that Cleveland officials have shown the world in advance of the convention.
In short, they want Clevelanders to speak for Cleveland when the city is thrust into the national stage from July 18 to July 21, the dates for the Republican Convention.
"We wanted to find people who can speak to how decisions are made behind public policy," said Sopko.
Sopko says one film follows a teenage organizer who lives on the city's East Side and hopes to quell the gang violence in her neighborhood, another depicts people who want to lower Cleveland's disproportionately high infant mortality rate, and still another involves a woman who teaches nutrition classes with the goal of teaching healthier living.
"We want to use art as a lens to view the political process," said Christina Vassallo, the executive director of Spaces studio in the Flats, which will host an exhibition about the "Fixers" series May 20-July 29, and screen the films. There will also be a series of screenings and public discussions throughout Cleveland. The dates have not been released. Updates will be available online at thefixercleveland.com.
All seven movies will be screened at the Bop Stop on Detroit Avenue on July 18 - the first day of the convention.
"Our overarching goal is to show the real Cleveland," Vassallo said, adding that the filmmakers talked to people who could paint a picture of everyday life here in Northeast Ohio, she said.
With an estimated 50,000 people planning to descend on Cleveland to attend the convention, Sopko, Vassallo and the other filmmakers hope the films help outsiders better understand the issues that impact Cleveland.
The movies were paid for through donations.