Posted on September 11, 2019

 Looking through almost 200 films can be fun but it can also be time consuming.

Head straight to the source with these programmer picks and get these must-see films on your CIFF schedule.

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Brennan started film previewing for Calgary International Film Festival in 2005.  He is now in his fifth festival as one of two Shorts Programmers.  His top-10 list is shorts-heavy, with a few features sneaking in there. This is the third year his cats have prepared a top 10 list that almost certainly will go un-posted. 

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1. BRENTWOODIncluded in SHORTS PACKAGE: LAUGHING IN THE DARK + SHORTS PACKAGE: WORKING ON A DREAM 

This comedic exaggeration of the rivalry between Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton is a must-see for Star Trek fans.  In order to make it to Broadway the first step may be to just stop being a dick.
BRENTWOOD

2. CRUDE OIL - Included in SHORTS PACKAGE: LAND OF HOPE AND DREAMS

Director Christopher Good’s BRUCE CUT LOOSE was one of my top five shorts of 2017.  This follow up is a  whirlwind, anxiety-laden journey of a girl trying to figure out who she is while controlling what people smell.

3. FRIDGE - Included in SHORTS PACKAGE: BETTER DAYS and showing before BANANA SPLIT 

If I was forced to choose one short to watch on repeat forever while eating only hummus, this would be it.

4. FUNERAL - Included in SHORTS PACKAGE: HUNGRY HEART

Last year the A Light That Never Goes Out package elicited strongly positive audience feedback.  A selection of films spread throughout the packages this year continue the exploration of dealing with death.  Funeral shows the outlandish side of losing a partner.
FUNERAL 1 v2

5. GREENER GRASS

A feature adaptation of the most darkly absurd short of the last five years. With a fleshed out story the humour is ratcheted up to another level.



6. KOKO-DI KOKO-DA

Beneath the veneer of a carnivalesque sense of whimsy and slapstick is one of the most unnerving and terrifying films in recent memory.  A suffering couple are dragged deeper and deeper into a pit of psychological terror.

KOKO DI KOKO DA web


7. LOWLAND KIDS - Included in SHORTS PACKAGE: I'M ON FIRE

Two teenagers are among the first climate change refugees.  After having lost so much, maintaining normalcy and fighting to maintain the only home they’ve ever known takes on particular poignancy.

8. MÉMORABLE - Included in SHORTS PACKAGE: SCRIBBLED AND DRAWN + SHORTS PACKAGE: BETTER DAYS

Rich animation presents the value of love and art as neurodegenerative disease causes all else to fade away.

MEMORABLE 1

9. SYLVIA Included in SHORTS PACKAGE: THUNDER ROAD

I don’t think I can write about this film without crying.

10. TWENTIETH CENTURY

I first heard about this debut feature from Matthew Rankin at a retrospective of his short films last year.  It immediately became a must see film and somehow exceeded my wildly high expectations.  You will never look at a $50 dollar bill the same after this depiction of Canada’s longest serving Prime Minister.

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