The first Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) was held in 2000 for six days, and was attended by 8,000 people. Within three years, attendance had more than doubled to over 20,000 for the expanded 10-day festival.
This year CIFF celebrates its 21st year September 23 - October 4, 2020. The 12-day showcase of up to 200 multi-genre feature and short films from Canada and around the world also hosts gala events, screenings, special presentations, and a Behind the Screen series that emphasizes unique and exciting ways for filmmakers and fans to interact.
With steady growth over the past four years, in 2019 attendance hit over 35,000 attendees, our third-highest attendance in the festival's twenty-one year history.
CIFF is now the largest film festival in Alberta and is the sixth largest in Canada. It is also an Oscar-qualifying festival for short films, a Canadian Screen Award Qualifying festival, and was named one of "50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee" in 2016, 2017 & 2019 by MovieMaker Magazine.
In addition to the festival, we present three film series year-round; Doc Soup, a six-month screening series of award-winning and critically acclaimed documentary films presented in conjunction with Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival, MoS Docs, a series dedicated to showcasing the year's most talked and compelling music documentaries from around the world, and our third series introduced this year, Global Perspectives, a new contemporary world cinema series. We also host an Oscar-Nominated Shorts Weekend in February.
To learn more about our most recent festival download our 2019 Festival Report.
The Calgary International Film Festival's mission is “to entertain and engage audiences by curating the most innovative and compelling films, and creating remarkable festival experiences.”
Achieving our mission includes hosting a large number of participating filmmakers – both locally and from abroad – and connecting them with the audience through interactive post-screening question and answer periods, networking at our events, and through panels and film talks open to the general public.
We aim to be a place where filmmakers and fans can find each other, discuss and appreciate films, and discover not only new talent and audiences, but new ways to connect over their love of film, and get one-of-a-kind interactive viewing experiences that go beyond the screen.
We seek the most compelling, innovative, and noteworthy films, and present them in a festival format that is interesting, distinctive, and unique. Each year’s line-up is presented in series that group The Festival's offerings into easily identifiable categories – Canadian Narrative Feature, Canadian Documentary, International Narrative, International Documentary, Galas, Special Presentations, Late Shows, Music on Screen, Official Selection and Shorts. We present a number of awards to outstanding films selected by our audiences and esteemed juries with cash and prizes totalling $20,000.
The festival is an experience that takes place outside the theater as well as in it, and we are constantly implementing new ideas to do that. From the Opening Gala to the final weekend with its Closing Gala, we have something for everyone – and whether you’ve attended before or you’re brand new to The Festival, we invite you to take part.
We screen films of every genre, selected from our backyard and around the world. Passion for film cuts across virtually every culture and demographic, making CIFF an exceptional opportunity for a truly inclusive artistic celebration.
The artistic and social value of a film festival is to celebrate visual storytelling in its most ideal context: cinematically on the big screen, in a way that brings together the artists and the audience in a lively atmosphere. No other form of film watching carries with it the celebration, shared experience and creation of community passionately engaged around the love of film. We do our best to offer a world-class festival experience at an accessible price with tickets starting at $10. Additionally, in 2019 we donated nearly 600 tickets to disadvantaged Calgarians, new immigrants and community partners.
This Festival's programming emphasizes discovery. We are proud to include a large number of first-time feature filmmakers in each year’s festival. By showing their work alongside that of established contemporaries from around the world, we celebrate the new energy and ideas they bring to the future of the art form, highlight how they contribute to the global culture of film, and make them an integral part of the exciting milieu of the festival.
As the largest film festival in the province, We are uniquely positioned as a leading champion for Alberta film. A meaningful share of the program is from Calgary, and we devote at least one gala each year to an Alberta feature. For short film, our Alberta Spirit program celebrates the province’s best of the year, and is a flagship event each year for audience and filmmakers.