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Top 10 Festival Picks from Peter Hemminger

We know, skimming through over 200 films can be fun but it can also be time consuming. That is why the Calgary International Film Festival has put a call out to our trusty community members, volunteers, and even a few local celebrities to develop their very own Top 10 "Must See" lists for the 2017 festival. Use these lists as a jumping off point for deciding on your own picks for the year, and hey - don't worry about cross-pollinating. Feel free to make your own top 10 lists from these top 10 lists, and more! 


Peter Hemminger has been a staple in the Calgary arts and culture industry for over a decade. He has experience as a writer and editor for the now defunct FFWD Weekly, previous programmer for the Calgary International Film Festival, radio host on CJSW 90.9 FM, and acting board member for Calgary Underground Film Festival (among his many other contributions). In 2013 Peter took over as the Executive Director of Quickdraw Animation Society which holds workshops, screenings, courses, and their own film festival for the animation-obsessed called GIRAF Animation Festival.

Naturally, Peter says he has a "soft spot for independent animation," however he also gravitates towards "'70s sci-fi, golden-age musicals, and deadpan comedy". Keeping his favourite films list to 2017 releases (wow!) Peter notes that GET OUT, PERSONAL SHOPPER, 20TH CENTURY WOMEN, FREE FIRE, THE BAD BATCH, PATERSON and JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 are some of his favourite flicks, admitting that his tastes are somewhat inauspicious. "Give me an ambitious failure over a safe success any day."

Here are Peter Hemminger's Top 10 Festival Picks this year:

1. A DAY

I’m still kicking myself for missing this one at the Fantasia film festival in Montreal. I’m always a sucker for high-concept films, so this thriller spin on the Groundhog Day formula is an easy bet.


It’s one of the more dramatic moments in Canadian history, but there are surprisingly few films on the FLQ crisis. And Quebecois film has a knack for unconventional coming-of-age stories.


I have a huge amount of faith in Michael Haneke’s ability to manipulate me. His 2005 film CACHÉ is still one of my all-time favourite filmgoing experiences—and the only time I’ve heard a whole theatre gasp in unison.


I’ve been especially curious about HAVE A NICE DAY since the Chinese government got it pulled from one of the world’s largest animation festivals. Funny how censorship can end up giving a film more attention.


Deadpan religious satire might not be for everyone, but it’s definitely for me. I don’t know anything about any of the filmmakers involved, but I’m willing to trust the Calgary Film programmers on this one.


The animated shorts program is a given for me (and features a pair of fantastic Calgary animations), but this package looks particularly interesting, too. Shorts are a perfect format for these sorts of oddball ideas—you can explore them without overstaying your welcome.


The structure of a Western is surprisingly suited to absorbing outside influences, so I’m very curious what a “Satay Western” will look like. Also, I know it’s one of Sachin’s top picks, and have learned to trust festival programmers when they single out a film.


This story of an outsider trying to build a perfect violin sounds like a mix of underdog story and craftsman doc—a combo that worked amazingly in Tim’s Vermeer a few years ago, and that’ll hopefully pay off again.


Along with the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup is an event I can never wrap my head around, in terms of scale and the sheer amount of exploitation they get away with. This view of preparations for the 2022 cup through the eyes of labourers looks absolutely fascinating.

10. WALL

The first feature-length animated documentary from the National Film Board, made by a Calgary animator with a fantastic track record, and based on an award-winning essay? Unmissable, basically.


Individual tickets are available via the links above. Click here to view the full film lineup