Nov 21

CUFF.DOCS Brings Documentary Downtown

by Downtown Calgary · 0 comments


Now entering its eleventh year of bringing groundbreaking film to Western Canada, The Calgary Underground Film Festival has a fortunate quandary: we have our pick of more amazing films than we have time to screen during our weeklong festival in April. What to do?

Why, extend our reach and start Calgary’s first ever documentary film festival, naturally! CUFF.DOCS runs from Thursday November 21 to Saturday November 23 at The Globe Cinema.

The photography documentary that opens the festival on Thursday night, FINDING VIVIAN MAIER, has generated a lot of buzz. I want to also give you a peek at my two personal favorites of the fest. Of all of the films I saw this year at Sundance, Cannes, and Toronto, these two are truly the absolute best I’ve seen. Truth. We’re so excited that we get to show them.

NARCO CULTURA, Friday November 22, 915pm


To a growing number of Latinos in the Americas, narco-traffickers have become iconic outlaws, glorified by musicians who praise their new models of fame and success. They represent a pathway out of the ghetto, nurturing a new American dream fueled by an addiction to money, drugs, and violence. From war photographer Shaul Schwarz comes a look at the drug cartels’ pop culture influence on both sides of the border as experienced by an LA narco corrido singer dreaming of stardom and a Juarez crime scene investigator on the front line of Mexico’s Drug War. NARCO CULTURA offers an unprecedented and heart-wrenching look into the blood-soaked world of the Mexican drug war, from the murderous traffickers and the musicians who revere them to the families left in the wake

What you need to know: This was THE most explosive doc I saw this year. It’s a music documentary, but so much more: it’s graphic, it’s violent, and I definitely had to look at my feet a few times, but it is endlessly fascinating and incredibly compelling. When we sat down to watch this film at Sundance, it began with such an emotional punch that I actually thought I had wandered into some sort of dramatized film by mistake. But, no: these are scenes from the real front lines, with unprecedented access and haunting closeness. Unbelievable. If you caught our presentation of The Act Of Killing last spring, then you cannot miss this film.

CUTIE AND THE BOXER, Saturday November 23, 7pm


An intimate reflection on love, sacrifice, and the creative spirit, this candid New York story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of renowned “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara and his artist wife, Noriko.

As a rowdy, confrontational young artist in Tokyo, Ushio seemed destined for fame, moving to New York City in 1969. When 19-year-old Noriko fell in love with Ushio, she abandoned her education to become the wife and assistant to an unruly, alcoholic husband. Over the course of their marriage, the roles have shifted. Now 80, Ushio struggles to establish his artistic legacy, while Noriko is at last being recognized for her own art. Spanning four decades, the film is a moving portrait of a couple wrestling with sacrifice, disappointment and aging, against a background of lives dedicated to art.

What you need to know: This charming doc thrilled audiences at Sundance and Tribeca this year. At the Sundance premiere, a certain journalist sitting next to me sneezed on me — ON me — at least three times, and I didn’t even care, I was so spellbound by the riveting relationship playing out onscreen. Meanwhile, Ushio & Noriko were entirely nonplussed by their festival darling status, and by the film’s nomination for the Grand Jury Award; they didn’t even stay for all of Sundance. “It’s rare to see a film so beautifully crafted in all aspects. It captures the complex nature of love and art in a mesmerizing and deeply human way” (Sundance jury).

That’s why we are so excited that USHIO AND NORIKO ARE COMING TO CALGARY FOR A LIVE APPEARANCE AT CUFF.DOCS! If you can only fit in one of our screenings this weekend, make it this one.

This has been a post by Amy Darling on behalf of the Calgary Underground Film Festival. Learn more about CUFF.DOCS on their website.

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