Posted on September 10, 2019
Looking through almost 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 5 "Must See" lists for the 2019 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!
Andrew Phung is an award winning actor, improviser, and emcee. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Andrew began studying improvisational theatre at the Loose Moose Theatre Company at the age of 16. Andrew is currently one of the stars of the hit CBC television series, Kim's Convenience, where he's won back-to-back Canadian Screen Awards for "Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series" for his portrayal of Kimchee. His recent TV/Film credits include Save Me, Mings Dynasty, and the Beaverton. Andrew is a father to two little boys, and an avid sneaker collector with over 300 pairs. Yes, that's right, 300 pairs of sneakers.
I’ve been attending CIFF since 2006. Year after year, it’s been a wonderful experience and opportunity to see unique films we don’t normally get to see. These are films that aren’t commonly played in our big theatres, and ones you kind of have to seek out. But, CIFF does the hard work for you, and pulls them together and puts it all in one place. I used to try to go into a movie knowing nothing about it. There’s a certain joy in being surprised. But, then I had kids. So, now, I try to at least see a trailer or read a bit about the film. My movie watching time is precious and babysitters don’t come for free.
So, I’ve gathered a list of 5 films I’m really excited to see. My list is all about comedies. My background in comedy leads me back to the Loose Moose Theatre Company in Inglewood, Calgary. My first film to premiere at CIFF was a silly comedy my friends and I made on a $500 budget. I love to laugh. I love hearing laughter, and these are some films that will make you smile.
I’m a big fan of “coming of age” films. Inherently, these types of films have points that can be easily related to. They also offer an opportunity to tell unique stories. Adam is set in 2006 and features Brooklyn’s young LGBTQ community. It’s a world that I didn’t grow up in, but the trailer makes me excited to see it! I love comedies that are awkward, and honest. I want my senses to perk up when the movie opens and Adam gives me all of those feelings!
The tag line reads “Three young men with disabilities hit the road with a jaded driver, to visit a Montreal brothel that caters to special needs clients.” Whoa, there is a lot to unpack here! But, most importantly, this movie is something I’ve NEVER seen! In a time where ideas are constantly being remade, we get something so fresh and so wild. I’ve literally never even imagined a tag line like that. Yes, this is a remake of a Belgian film, but we ALL know I didn’t see the Belgian version. This film is being called one of the funniest, raunchiest, and heartfelt films of the year. That alone is worth the watch!
Did I mention “coming of age” films? Yup, and this is another one. But, this is one I can really relate to. High School was tough for me because I struggled with body image issues. I think that’s why I gravitated towards comedy because it gave me a sense of belonging and a unique set of skills to defend myself in social settings. The trailer of JEUNE JULIETTE made me cringe, it made me smile, and it made me laugh. I related to so much of it, and the performances look outstanding. The cast seems wonderfully balanced, but I’m fully prepared for the lead, Alexane Jamieson, to steal the show.
I’m a simple man. Some things make me happy, and I can’t tell you why. DJ’s and DJ Culture is one of them. Maybe it’s because I really appreciate it. Maybe it’s because for a brief period I tried to DJ, but was terrible at it. Either way, I’m totally feeling this film about about a DJ (Samir), attending a prestigious DJ Championship. Then, he’s mistaken as a refugee, and must navigate a world filled with colourful characters and events. So, you’re telling me this is a film about a DJ, featuring bumping music, and it’s a comedy? Yeah, I’m so down!
When I first started out doing comedy, my friends and I would make short films. As a group we’d come together throughout the year and plan out silly comedic bits and sketches. Some of them won awards, but many of them were only funny to us. The cool thing is that from the group, one is now writer in LA, another is an editor in London, one just completed his first feature length doc, and the list goes on. Every single member of our friend group works or has deep ties to the creative sector.
That’s why I think short films are so important. They are the gateway into film making and creative story telling. The festival receives a tonne of short film submissions and curates some amazing line-ups. I’ve gone to many short film screenings over the years and I’ve never been disappointed. I chose this one because it’s skewed towards comedy. The “dark” in the title has me curious. If you’re not sure what to see, go check out a shorts package. It’s like an “all you can eat” buffet of films. You get a bit of everything.
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