Posted on August 2, 2017

If you're a film fan in the city, chances are you had been waiting for our first film announcement for a while now. And we're thrilled that we were finally able to share with you the first wave of films playing at our 2017 festival during our Facebook Live on Wednesday morning. 

Down at ATB Financial on historic Stephen Avenue in downtown Calgary, our executive director Stephen Schroeder joined forces with our programming manager, Brenda Lieberman, and our World Cinema features programmer Sachin Gandhi to take our audience through a sample of some of the hottest and most buzz-worthy films that will be playing this fall. These films are sure to be popular with fans and talked about long after the credits have rolled. Building on hype from other festivals, critical reviews, and sometimes just good old-fashioned programmer intuition, these selections gain a lot of attention in the weeks before and after their Calgary debuts.

The Calgary International Film Festival "War Wall". After selecting the 200 films that will play at the festival, next programmers must fit them into a 12-day schedule.

As the months melt away and the festival anticipation builds, one has to wonder – how do they possibly decide which films will be screened? With over 2,700 submissions vying for just 200 spots on the big screen, the selection process is in constant motion. The nature of the film festival is unlike any other multi-day event planning process. For most large scale events, such as theatre or music festivals, details are usually locked down and coordinated many months before. However, the film festival is really an anomaly in the festival world. Programmers at Calgary Film are watching, curating, and booking the hottest and most compelling films right down to the wire, within a month of the first screening.

This hectic, impassioned booking process means there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Programmers are locked in, allowing intuition and years of experience guide them in their decisions. There are surprises in store for everyone and that contributes to the keen generation of excitement among festival staff and film lovers alike.

Sometimes, film festivals that happen before the Calgary International Film Festival have an influence on the selections that are booked. For sports buffs, there's the biopic BORG/MCENROE by Janus Metz, focusing on the intense and famous sports rivalry between tennis superstars John McEnroe (Shia LeBeouf) and Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) - a film which will screen as the Opening Night Film of the Toronto International Film Festival just prior to its arrival here.

Calgary Film is also welcoming some very well-received foreign films this year. A FANTASTIC WOMAN (Sebastián Lelio), booked for its plentiful reviews and awards, including the Best Screenplay award at the Berlin International Film Festival, is the story of a young woman in love with a doomed older man, who must face the scorn and judgment of society once he dies. The whirlwind that follows leaves this trans-woman confronted by his family and society standards.

If you're in the mood for something gritty and dramatic, you won't want to miss SMALL TOWN CRIME (Ian and Eshom Nelms). A complex and layered multi-narrative, in the style of Quentin Tarantino, with plenty of vengeance and action to go around.

Sometimes, film touches on the most difficult topics in contemporary society, including films that challenge social standards, address heart-wrenching struggle, and propel the listener to empathy. Winning the Audience Award at SXSW this year, THE LIGHT OF THE MOON (Jessica M. Thompson) enters the festival stratosphere and recounts a story of sexual assault and recovery.

The introspective tale woven by Julia Solomonoff in NOBODY'S WATCHING, meanwhile, tells of the life and struggles of a foreign actor trying to make it big in New York - a story of chasing dreams and facing reality that resonates with audiences everywhere, as evidenced by its win of the Best Actor in an International Feature at Tribeca this year.

The winner of the the Tribeca Audience Award, THE DIVINE ORDER (Petra Volpe), will also be coming to our screens, telling the quirky yet all too relevant story of a woman's plight to bring suffrage rights to the women of her Swiss town in the 1970s.

World Cinema lovers won't want to miss FÉLICITÉ (Alain Gomis), the first Central African film shown at the festival in seven years, which features music from the Kinshasa Symphonic Orchestra and an emotionally packed performance from Congolese musician Vero Tshanda Beya Mputu.

If music on screen is your thing be sure to see SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY (Matt Schrader). This engaging and enthralling documentary delves into the world of movie scores, and the genius musicians who create the unforgettable soundtracks that make great movies even better.

While some films garner attention worldwide before ending up on our roster, Calgary Film also curates the best in up and coming, never before seen films like one of the highly anticipated Canadian Features, A SWINGERS WEEKEND (Jonathon Cohen). This is a sex comedy that shows off the hilarious results of a steamy vacation gone awry, set in the beautiful mountain wilderness. This film falls into the genre of sex comedy, you know the type that makes you cringe a little bit but also makes you laugh? These films seem to be particularly popular with Calgarian audiences and A SWINGERS WEEKEND will be hot off the press this fall – they are just finishing up in post-production.

Last, but definitely not least, is a film that's so heavy with awards that it's hard to believe it made it all the way to Canadian shores. LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA (Alankrita Shrivastava) is an expertly-shot narrative of four women in India, all in different stages of life and with different circumstances - but with similarities to each other that defy culture, age, and borders.


Excited about what you've seen so far? Be sure to pick up your Early Bird Pack or Pass, the best way to experience the Calgary International Film Festival. Packs & Passes allow you to see the most number of movies over 12 days for a great deal. With ticket packs you can redeem multiple tickets to one movie, or see all different movies. The Festival Pass can get you tickets to all events and screenings at the festival subject to capacity. Special pricing in effect until August 25! BUY NOW

Mark your calendars for our next Facebook Live Announcement, which will go down next Thursday, August 10 at 7:30 pm. We'll be discussing the next wave of films, Alberta Scene, and highlighting some of the amazing local content coming to Calgary Film this fall. We'll see you there!

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