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The Alberta Scene

On Thursday night we were live on scene at Big Rock Brewery to celebrate our second wave announcement, showcasing this year’s selections that have an Albertan connection. Big Rock is the official beer sponsor of the festival and has worked with us this year to provide beer and cider at all of our venues! For the first time ever each of our theatres is licensed while also maintaining all-ages access.

The films that are included in this announcement represent the wide perspective that forms our Alberta Scene. With a full roster of filmmakers, screenwriters, and actors from our Alberta Scene feature films, we ran through some exclusive, shot-gun interviews featuring the movers and shakers in the wonderful world of Alberta film. Check out our Facebook Live to watch the full announcement.

The first announcement, SUCK IT UP was introduced as the Closing Gala selection for this year. Joined by Associate Producer, Cameron Chapman who describes the film as “a joyride through grief.” Cameron suggests that many of the Albertan audience members will connect to the nostalgia of chasing summer, and the groundedness that comes along with life at the family summer cabin. In fact, many scenes in this film were shot at one of the lead actress’ summer homes in Invermere, BC. According to Chapman, the film is one of spiralling and healing together. SUCK IT UP will be screened on September 30 at the Closing Gala – tickets ($35) are now on sale.

Saturday, September 30 will be a stacked day. Not only will our Closing Gala be celebrating the final weekend of Calgary Film for the year, but we will also be featuring a special interactive edition of Showcase Alberta featuring the cast and crew of Alberta’s highly acclaimed sci-fi wonder, WYNONNA EARP that is created right here in Calgary.

Actor Ryan Northcott (who plays Wyatt Earp on the show) described the exponential growth of the “Earper” nation and was extremely excited to see increased focus being placed on Alberta actors and producers. Northcott told us that he found the attention his character receives to be both “bizarre and lovely” considering “everything bad that happens in the show is [Wyatt’s] fault.”

Season One of Wynonna Earp is available to watch on Netflix! You have exactly 51 days to harness your inner Earper then find your way to the exclusive SHOWCASE ALBERTA: UP CLOSE & INTERACTIVE WITH WYNONNA EARP event – tickets ($20) are now on sale.

In 2016 we ran a successful pilot project at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre where we showcased one film from our popular Music on Screen Series. This year we’re back at NMC on Wednesday, September 27 for a special presentation of NO ROADS IN. Director Josh Wong describes the film as more than just a film or album recording, saying it is a spiritual experience of sorts. “The album is incredible,” says Wong. “The band is incredible, and I feel just truly blessed to have been apart of a project that is so incredibly giving.”

Following the film, Blake Reid and the Blake Reid Band will perform songs from the film at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre – tickets ($20) are now on sale.

The interviews during the live feed were fast and high energy, grabbing the best of each filmmaker in a rapid fire interview style. As we rolled through our final announcements of the day, the wide scope of the Alberta scene became increasingly apparent.

WALL examines the personal, social, political, and economic implications of the wall that is being built along the Israeli West Bank. Director and Animator Cam Christiansen describes his choice to use animation as a strategic one. “Animation made a lot of sense because the West bank is literally occupied territory so … you would be very limited to make a live action film.” This way, Christiansen explains, you are able to “experience the journey of our characters that we couldn’t do with live action.”

Discussing his latest screenplay and production, ENTANGLEMENT, Jason Filiatrault describes the weird and wonderful world of combining the “amazing visual style” of James Liston to his “very wordy talky script.” With the help of Director Jason James, a casual conversation between the two led to a production that, even though Filiatrault was playing hard to get, offers a wonderful look at the human condition in a dark, funny, unorthodox take on love in the modern world.

ICE BLUE marks the feature film debut of Director Sandi Somers after a long career that boasts over 75 short films. Somers is the first female to direct a feature in Alberta for almost 15 years. When she stepped on set for her first feature her experience shined through, “I’ve learned how to interact with people” says Somers of her experience with short films, “everyone is different.”

Rounding out the end of the Facebook Live Feed we had a chance to chat with two final directors. John Kissack was in attendance to discuss EVERFALL, a story that features “a trio of teenagers who get trapped inside a haunted skating area and are forced to confront a really traumatic episode from their past.” Kissack was in good humour as he described the psychological thriller, noting that setting has a lot to do with the end product. “We shot the film in Medicine Hat which was great because no visual effects are necessary, all the ghosts and demons were already around.”

Last, we chatted with Thi Vo, Director and documentary subject of MADE IN VIETNAM. The film recounts the story of Vo’s journey to find his father after his family immigrated to Calgary from Vietnam many years ago. “We do feel it resonates with Alberta, Calgary, and Canada as a whole” says Thi Vo. “We are such a multicultural nation and city, that everyone came here from somewhere.” MADE IN VIETNAM is truly a local story.  

Did you know that 25% of all programmed Canadian feature content is Albertan? From our screening at the National Music Centre, to our Closing Gala, to our stock of Alberta features, to connecting the Alberta film industry with audiences through our Behind the Screen Series, we are champions of our local screen industry. The focus that the Calgary International Film Festival places on homegrown screen content aims to exalt the amazing talent held right here in our province.

The films described above are only a sample of those with Alberta connections playing at this year's festival. Check out the full Alberta Scene lineup and pick up your early bird festival pack or pass sale to see all of the incredible Alberta content coming to Calgary Film this fall.

Single tickets to all films will go on sale August 30 when our full lineup and schedule is released.