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Rediscovering Cleveland – The Cleveland International Film Festival

Back in Cleveland where the weather is bitter cold compared to the sunny and humid air of the Florida Keys, my friends and I headed out for Ohio City this morning for breakfast at Bon Bon’s. The atmosphere there is great and the coffee was delicious. Four cups of coffee later, we caught the rapid and headed for Tower City for the 38th annual Cleveland International Film Festival.

We stood in line to get tickets for stand by for one of the Dutch films, got our tickets and waited in line for the possibility that we would get in. An hour and a half later they told people that the film was full and we could get our money back or see another film. We almost went to see Oliver Stoned, a film about a 27 year old living in his parents basement who gets stoned all the time, but decided on Pelada.

It was a great decision. Pelada was about a couple who were former student athletes playing soccer for Duke and Notre Dame. They traveled the world finding pick up soccer games in different countries. Although I’m not a huge soccer fan, I loved this documentary. I think this movie had a greater message behind it.

I learned two things from this movie, that culture or politics shouldn’t determine friendships and you can still be passionate about something even if you feel it’s time to grow up and put those things in the past. When they were in Iran one of the young men they were playing with said my favorite quote of the entire movie,

Politics shouldn’t determine friendships

The USA and Iran have such bad relationships with each other because of our governments and most of us have not every interacted with someone from Iran. As they found out while they played soccer with the Iranians they can be friends with each other even though they have extreme government and cultural differences. Another stop in Jerusalem showed the unrest between a group of Arabic and Jewish people playing a simple game of soccer. Their religious and cultural differences came in between their ability to just play the game.

The lesson of living out your dreams as you age was apparent in all the people they met. When they were in Tokyo and Shanghai they met groups of Asian men who worked 10-12 hours a day and still took the time to play soccer for an hour each day. In South Africa, a group of construction workers building the stadium for the 2010 World Cup gave up their lunch break to play a game of soccer instead. As we age I think we all start to give up things we enjoy or love to do because it’s what we see as practical or good for the family. We all have to grow up sometime right? We don’t have to give up the things we love.

I never thought I would have found myself at the film festival this past weekend, but it was a great cultural experience and it was awesome to have something like this happening right here in Cleveland. Moving home from college has been quite the adjustment, but finding new things in the city that I enjoy doing had made the transition into adulthood here that much easier.