The films, music and experiences to expect at this year’s Calgary International Film Festival

The Calgary International Film Festival has officially entered its 23rd year with more than 175 screenings between September 22nd and October 2nd.

Organizers hope visitor numbers will increase after two years of pandemic restrictions.

Festival artistic director Brian Owens says he can already feel the energy rising again at Eau Claire Market, where the event is taking place.

“For the past two years … we’ve been able to attend in person, but we’ve had to do it with such limited capacity that we could only count on literally a few thousand people to attend,” he said.

“We don’t quite expect it to go back to 2019 attendance numbers. But, you know what? It’s actually pretty damn close, and that’s really exciting.”

Several films in this year’s program were shot in the province or directed by Alberta, including Before I change my minda coming-of-age LGBT film, The girlwhich deals with the emotional crises experienced by two Albertan teenagers, and insanity – a documentary that examines how society deals with mental illness.

The festival has created a free, interactive digital media hub that includes four PC-based video games and five virtual reality experiences. (Submitted by Brian Owens)

In addition to curating both Canadian and international films, Owens says the festival has worked hard to provide an exciting visitor experience.

CIFF has built a public art installation of balloons with live music – at the screenings for Secondary schoolwhich focuses on Calgary pop duo Tegan and Sara, and Nosferatu — and it’s created a free, interactive media hub featuring video games and virtual reality experiences.

One of the pieces called This is not a ceremonywas created by Lethbridge filmmaker Colin Van Loon.

“It really challenges us as settlers to bear the burden of what happened in the dorms,” ​​Owens said. “It’s an incredible use of virtual reality to really just flood you with the message. It is wonderful.”

Francheska: Prairie Queen

Francheska: Prairie Queen takes a year-long look at the life of Francis (Kiko) Yutrago, who stars as Francheska Dynamites. (CIF)

Ahead of the festival, CBC Calgary spoke to some of the filmmakers whose plays were screened at CIFF.

Laura O’Grady is the Calgarian behind it Francheska: Prairie Queen. The film follows the life of Filipino care worker Francis (Kiko) Yutrago, who lives in a town south of Lethbridge, Alta, and attempts to become a superstar through his drag personality, Francheska Dynamites.

“I first saw Kiko as Francheska at a Pride event in a small town and the weather wasn’t great…so there were very few people there,” O’Grady said in one interview The home track. “But Francheska walked onto the stage and she just lit it.”

Throughout the film, O’Grady explores the Philippine pageant where Francheska Dynamites performs. She also considers Yutrago’s commitment to his family, who works five jobs to send money to the Philippines for medical and school expenses.

“It also really helped me understand the complexities of life here… and also how unfortunately our frontline workers are underappreciated,” she said.

“I think Kiko really wants other individuals who may or may not live within the Filipino community to be inspired… You can live your life on your terms and still respect and support your family back home.”

The film celebrates its world premiere on September 23 at the CIFF. There will be a rainbow carpet with several Filipino drag queens in attendance, Owens says.

I get knocked down

“Dunstan Bruce is haunted by the antagonistic spirit of his anarchist past,” says the festival’s I Get Knocked Down website. (CIF)

Another documentary focuses on the life of Dunstan Bruce, member of the band Chumbawamba after the group released their hit song in the 1990s. Beat.

“I first wanted to explore the idea of ​​what a political pop group can do once they go mainstream?” Bruce said in one Interview on the Calgary Eyeopener.

“I’ve been asking myself all these questions about what happened to Chumbawamba.”

The band got together about 16 years before the hit’s release, Bruce said. During that time, they’ve built a loyal following as an underground independent band.

When their song started making waves, he says, they had to decide how to respond.

“We had no idea it was going to be a hit … are we going to grab this with both hands and make the most of it?” he said.

“What’s the point of staying pure and underground when… it’s more important to talk to the rest of the world?”

After making the film, Bruce says he believes pop groups can make a difference. He also says he’s not mad at the song. Fans still write to him to this day to talk about how they are dealing with it.

“This song works because it’s a universal message… I don’t think we realized what a powerful message it was.”

I get knocked down celebrates its Canadian premiere on September 23 at CIFF.

father of nations

Father of Nations explores one man’s journey into a post-apocolytic world. (CIF)

Calgary filmmaker Aleisha Anderson’s debut feature film will premiere at this year’s CIFF.

father of nations is a post-apocalyptic drama set sometime in the future and filmed entirely in this province with an all-Albertan cast and crew.

“We really wanted to explore the human issues and what someone would go through at the end of the day. So it’s quite an introspective piece and it’s really about the journey of a man trying to find hope,” she said in an interview The home track.

Much of the film was inspired by scenes seen by the crew in the provinces, from the badlands to rural towns and abandoned barns.

They spent a lot of time in Hilda, a hamlet about 50 miles northeast of Medicine Hat that was hit by a tragic wildfire in 2017.

“Local residents had reached out to us and said, ‘Hey, if you’re looking for post-apocalyptic, we’ve got that,'” she said.

“After such a tragedy that really hit their community deeply, they got to see something coming out of it, a story that could be told there to showcase some of the people, the land and the environment.”

The film is sold out for its world premiere at CIFF on October 1, but it will tour to the Scotiabank Theater Chinook, Anderson said, then to Edmonton, Red Deer and Medicine Hat.

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