Posted on September 12, 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 10 "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! 


Maud Salvi is the Executive Director of Sled Island, Western Canada's largest independent music and arts festival that takes place in Calgary each June. In her spare time she loves watching movies while munching on a bag of peanut butter m&ms

I’m very glad that CIFF approached me about putting this list together as it gave me an opportunity to comb through the entire lineup. I love movies and I think we’re very lucky to have so many great film festivals in Calgary. I like to approach them the same way I want people to approach Sled Island. Of course, there are always big names that catch my eyes - and I couldn’t help but include one of them – but for the most part I really like to go see films I would have never heard of otherwise, especially from countries whose cinema I don’t know much about.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some of the films I look forward to checking out (my full list was four times the size!) I hope this helps you make your selection. I will see you at the festival. 


1. Bacurau

This stood out as an oddball movie, in the best way possible. Sergio Leone meets John Carpenter against a backdrop of social commentary? Yes, please! Extra points for the sweet-sounding soundtrack we get a glimpse of in the trailer. A must-see for me.


2. Abou Leila

I don’t know anything about Algerian cinema so this film piqued my curiosity and the synopsis – "two police officers’ hunt for a terrorist leads them into a nightmarish labyrinth desert” - and trailer got me hooked! I can’t wait to watch it.


3. Blood Quantum

I was listening to the CBC while driving the other day and heard an interesting interview with the director, Jeff Barnaby, and I recognized the title while combing through the lineup. I like zombie movies quite a bit and I’m very curious to see how he used this genre as a metaphor for Indigenous people’s experience with invasion and survival.


4. Monos

This is an intriguing movie about a group of kids getting trained for a mysterious mission. The trailer looks beautiful and I’m a big fan of Mica Levi (Michachu & The Shapes), who wrote the score, so I’m sold.


5. Butterfly

I love boxing movies and what’s better than a boxing movie, but a boxing movie with a female protagonist, a category that is sorely lacking. I’ve also been trying to dust off my Italian so this is a perfect combo for me.


6. Fly By Night

This looks like a good dark action-thriller set in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I can’t think of another Malaysian movie that I have seen so this seems like a great introduction.


7. The Orphanage

Most movies I’ve seen that take place in Afghanistan are about the war so I’m interested in seeing a different kind of story, especially told through the eyes of a teenager. It looks like there is a good dose of humour in it too, despite the heaviness of the underlying subject.


8. Alice

Film festivals always give me a chance to catch up on contemporary French cinema and this one caught my eye because of the subject matter. Sex work is still heavily stigmatized so I welcome any opportunity to see it portrayed through a different lens.


9. A Separation

I love this movie. It’s a powerful story about loyalty, love and family and the struggles of trying to reconcile them. It is told beautifully and acted masterfully by Peyman Maadi and Leila Hatami. If you haven’t seen it yet I highly recommend you add it to your schedule.


10. Sorry We Missed You

I wanted to avoid the heavy hitters but I love Ken Loach’s movies and I have much respect and admiration for him. He’s devoted his entire career to depicting the struggles of Britain’s lower middle-class while working primarily with amateur and first-time actors, which didn’t prevent him from winning two Palme D’or's at Cannes. I’ll be watching this for sure.



Tickets for these and all our films are on sale now at Explore the guide and schedule here. 

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