Calgary International Film Festival

Oh man, what a week! I have been feeling so incredibly tired for no reason at all.

Or perhaps, it was because I went a little film crazy last weekend and had a few late nights.

As you might know, the Calgary International Film Festival is currently on – running from September 23 to October 4. There’s still one weekend left, so hopefully I can motivate you to get out there and see a few flicks – or to at least put it in your calendar for next year.

I’ve actually never been before, so when the CIFF crew offered me a few passes to check out some cool films, I was excited to see what it was about.

I spent hours scrolling through the list of over 100 films, reading each of the descriptions and checking out the cast. Then, of course, checking to see if any were reviewed yet on IMDB. I ended up deciding upon 6 – but it was a pretty hard choice to be honest.

The movies are divided into categories – top ten, Canadian cinema, Documentary, Shorts, Late Shows, New American, World Cinema, and Headliners which really just means there is something for everyone.

So, what were my contenders? Hyena Road (Galas), Funnily Enough (Shorts), The Lobster (World Cinema), Dark Horse (Documentaries), 40 Below and Falling (Canadian Cinema), and Into the Forest (Headliners).

I started out my first CIFF experience at Hyena Road – hosted at one of the oldest theatres in Calgary – Theatre Junction Grand. The premier was fitted with red carpet and all, as the director and main cast strutted their stuff and answered interview questions. Drinks and appys were carried throughout – courtesy of Workshop.

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As we entered the theatre and took our assigned seats, the crowd was buzzing with excitement. Being only the second film to show, everyone was discussing their picks for the week.

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I was a little hesitant about the film since I’m not a big war film buff, but it was actually quite excellent. The style of directing was neat, and the story was easy to follow. Afterwards, there was a short Q&A period where members of the audience could pick the director’s brain. It definitely sparked some conversation on the walk home. The neat thing about the Gala series is the after party where you can actually meet the cast and director – but it was already a late night so we headed home.

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The rest of the shows were at the Eau Claire theatre. Heading down for the official opening, there were little performances throughout the night – keeping those waiting in line entertained. Since seats aren’t assigned, I highly recommend showing up about 30 minutes early to make sure you get a good one.

With each movie, I grabbed a treat (my preference being popcorn & M’Ms) and sat back ready to relax. There were some disappointments (40 Below and Falling) but for the most part they were really quite good and exceeded my expectations. I laughed, chewed my nails, and held back tears all in one night.

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Most of the movies have a deeper meaning and they aren’t something I would normally check out in theatres, so it was nice to be pleasantly surprised.

Tickets are really quite cheap and it’s a fun event for the night. So, scroll through the list and catch a few before they finish! There will be encore performances based on audience votes for those of you that have a particular showing in mind. My top pics? The Lobster & Into the Forest. If they’re selected, be sure to grab a seat!

Share your thoughts below.