Posted on September 15, 2019

Brenda Lieberman has been a feature film programmer with CIFF since 2007, currently Lead Programmer, programming the Canadian Narrative, Late Shows, and World Cinema series. In addition to her work with the Calgary International Film Festival, is also the co-founder and Executive Director of the Calgary Underground Film Festival. 

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

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I always struggle to narrow down films within our festival, but I have selected a handful that stood out to me, with varying levels of intensity, emotional impact, uniqueness, humour, or absurdity. I typically don’t read reviews, or watch trailers when selecting films, as I always like to go in with no expectation.

All of these films surprised me in ways I find hard to articulate.
I felt naturally surprised by their bold, refreshing, creative storytelling, and their emotional impact they had on me – all in different ways. Some with surprise or shock, some with comedy, and lots with absurdity. I also have a soft spot for films with dogs, and two of these fall into that category! 

 

1. ALICE 

Alice was the first World feature I booked this year, and knew as soon as I watched it, it was a must have! This award-wining first feature is powerful on every level, and hits an emotional punch with an incredible female lead.

 

2. A WHITE, WHITE DAY   

A amazingly powerful film from Iceland, following a mans descent into madness, after the loss of his wife. Touching on love, loss, family and deceit. Thrilling, emotional and intense.

 

3. ANOTHER CHILD 

Interwoven relationship film, told through the eyes of their kids. Great characters, really well done in every way and has a very naturalistic feel to it. This was an incredible treat to discover at Fantasia.

 

4. COME TO DADDY 

A great film with surprises throughout. Gory, funny, and creative, this is perfect for the Late Shows series.

 

5. DENMARK 

This is a super fun, unique, quirky story and enjoyable to watch on every level. And there's a cute dog.

 

6. JEUNE JULIETTE 

Coming of age films never tire me out. I loved everything about this film. It’s fun, quirky, sad, unique. 

 

7. KOKO-DI KOKO-DA 

I am a big fan of this director, and was excited by this new film. This film is one that definitely plays with your emotions and catches you off-guard throughout. With a mix of darkness, tragedy, comedy and absurdity – I have no way to properly describe or set one up for what you will experience. 

 

8. MURMUR 

I’m really proud Heather’s first feature just won a major award at TIFF, and is very well deserved. This film is very quiet, minimalistic and observational in style, with non-professional actors, but really engaging and sad to watch. And there's lots of cute dogs.

 

9. VIVARIUM 

Fun, quirky film and totally perfect for anyone looking for something more unique in the festival. This falls into absurdist-comedy, and the director does a great job creating an elaborate new world for you to live in while watching this one.

 

10. WHITE LIE

One of the most impactful stories in the Canadian series line up, and I was engrossed and shocked the whole way through. Well done in every way.

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