Apr 15

Everything You Wanted to Know about the Calgary Underground Film Festival (but were afraid to ask)

by Downtown Calgary · 0 comments

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This is a guest post from the Calgary Underground Film Festival’s Amy Darling. If you’d like to become a contributor to GetDown, learn how here.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary of cutting edge programming this year, and having entertained tens of thousands of audience members, the Calgary Underground Film Festival isn’t so much of a secret anymore. At this point some of our hijinks are part of Calgary lore; meeting new friends and telling them I get to work with CUFF is always a treat.

“Aren’t you the group who showed that movie about the killer tire, and then did a question and answer period with the tire right after the film?”

Why, yes. Yes we did. And our entire audience STAYED for the Q&A, and asked the tire some really thought provoking questions.

(Tire was a bit of a diva, though.)

“Is that the festival that has the Saturday morning party where people show up in their pajamas and watch cartoons in the theatre?”

Yessiree, that would be us. Yet again this year, we are setting up an all-you-can-eat-cereal buffet and showing three hours of hilarious retro cartoons. We take our fun so seriously that this year we made two separate trips across the border in order to pick up cereals that are only available in the US.

(And yes, pyjamas are encouraged!)

With an amazing lineup of films this year that includes a dozen Canadian premieres and a dozen Alberta premieres, as well as a number of special events, I’m now overwhelmed by all the great events listed in the guide!

You’re in luck, here’s a look at my top five hidden gems at this year’s Calgary Underground Film Festival:

  1. Picture Day: Hailed by the Toronto International Film Festival as “one of the most charming and vibrant debut features by a Canadian filmmaker in recent memory,” this film is a great way to ease yourself into the festival if you haven’t been before. A sweet, comedic take on post high school coming of age, with a rock and roll edge and a little romance thrown in.
  2. Sightseers: Have watched the trailer for this rollicking, ultra dark British comedy approximately 20 times now, and still find it hilarious. Can’t wait to watch the entire film with an audience! Directed by The Kill List’s Ben Wheatley, this film has won a boat load of awards for its twisted humour. Bonus points for knitted underpants, a cute dog, beautiful shots of the English countryside, and a trip to a pencil museum. It’s an adventure, all right!
  3. Pieta: This grim and engaging tale was South Korea’s entry for the Academy Awards this year. Helmed by controversial master Ki-Duk Kim, it is a mind blowing take on crime and punishment unlike any we’ve ever seen. It’s a heavy one! Definitely one of the most truly epic journeys we are presenting at the festival. If you liked No Country For Old Men, this is for you. Our festival is licensed, so we’ll pour you a nice stiff drink as you watch the drama unfold.
  4. The Act of Killing: without question THE most surreal documentary of the decade. Former Indonesian death squad leaders reenact their real-life mass killings in whichever genre they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers. Haunting, revelatory, with a surprising number of oddly humorous moments.
  5. How To Make Money Selling Drugs: set to infectious, Nintendo-style music, this tongue in cheek documentary starts off by detailing how the entrepreneurial-minded can climb from street pawn to cartel kingpin in ten easy steps. It then sneaks a doc within a doc (!) and hits the viewer with a fascinating look at drug laws, prison culture, and class warfare, all with unprecedented access to drug trade leaders and government officials.

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