To celebrate our 20th anniversary, our expert CIFF programming team put together a list of their Top 20 films that have played the festival over the past 20 years. Between April 29th and May 27th, we received hundreds of votes from the public, which ended in a tie for first place. Here are the Top 5 films chosen by YOU that will make their triumphant return to the big screen this September. Click through to the films to watch their trailers.

Tickets for the Retrospective Fan Vote series go on sale Friday, August 23.

WAYDOWNTOWN web1st Place (Tied!): WayDowntown

(2000). Directed by Gary Burns. Canada. 87 minutes.

September 19 at 7:00 PM at Globe Cinema 

A group of young employees bet a month's salary, winner takes all, on who can last the longest without going outside.

The uniquely Calgarian world of interconnected office buildings, apartment complexes and food courts (Plus + 15’s) is the backdrop for WAYDOWNTOWN, where young office workers Tom, Sandra, Randy and Curt, have all staked a month's salary on a bet to see who can stay indoors the longest. It's lunch hour on day 24 of the wager and everyone's pretty much reached their breaking point.

This darkly comedic cult classic from local Director Gary Burns (KITCHEN PARTY, RADIANT CITY) was the first Opening Gala of the inaugural Calgary International Film Festival, in 2000.

To celebrate WAYDOWNTOWN being the first film to ever play the Festival, a special screening will take place almost twenty years to the day of its 2000 premiere on Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 7pm at the Globe Cinema. The film will be shown in 35mm - how it was originally intended to be enjoyed! In attendance at the special event will be the films Director and local Calgarian Gary Burns, Producer George Baptist, the films Production Designer and Actor Donna Brunsdale and Cinematographer Patrick McLaughlin.

Tickets for this special screening are now on sale.

1st Place (Tied!): WHIPLASH 

(2014). Directed by Damien Chazelle. USA. 106 minutes.

September 29 at 12:00 PM at Eau Claire

Damien Chazelle's heart-pounding, electrifying Oscar winner is a gut-punch of pure adrenaline features 2 of the finest performances of the decade.

With just his second feature film, director Damien Chazelle unleashed this explosive psychological thriller about a talented young drummer attending a prestigious music academy, and the uncompromising - and sadistic - mentor who will stop at nothing to see him realize his full potential. 

Featuring a brilliant performance by Miles Teller, as the gifted young jazz drummer pushed to his absolute limit...and matched beat for beat by JK Simmons, in a ferocious display of acting that rightfully won him the 2015 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

DONNIE DARKO web3rd Place: Donnie Darko 

(2001). Directed by Richard Kelly. USA. 113 minutes. 14A.

September 21 at 12:00 PM at Globe Cinema 

Though initially a box office failure, Richard Kelly's debut feature went on to become a cult classic that continues to influence filmmakers worldwide.

Amidst the 1988 US Presidential Elections, a troubled teenager (Jake Gyllenhaal) survives a freak accident and begins having Apocalyptic visions brought to him by an invisible 6-foot tall rabbit named Frank. Convinced by Frank that he has 28 days to save his family, Donnie turns down a dark path of mayhem and destruction.

Before STRANGER THINGS combined science fiction, Spielbergian touches and ‘80s nostalgia to much acclaim, Richard Kelly set the high-water mark with this debut feature. Initially beset with distribution problems, it would slowly find its audience and emerge as arguably the first cult classic of the new millennium.

A SEPARATION web4th Place: A SeparatioN

(2011). Directed by Asghar Farhadi. Iran. 123 minutes. PG.

September 22 at 12:00 PM at Eau Claire 

Asghar Farhadi’s Academy Award winning film that insightfully observes humans in their moments of stress, fear and anxiety.

A SEPARATION wastes no time diving into the titular material and opens with a divorce hearing between Simin (Leila Hatami) and Nader (Payman Maadi). The two had originally planned to leave Iran with their daughter Termeh, played by the director’s daughter Sarina Farhadi. However, Nader cancels the trip because he doesn’t want to leave his father behind who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. This causes a rift in the couple’s relationship and Simin decides to sue for divorce. When her divorce request is rejected, she decides to move into her parents’ home while Termeh decides to stay with her father. This separation results in a remarkable sequence of events which involve another family and is heavily impacted by religious and societal situations in Iran.

This was Farhadi’s 5th feature but was the one that catapulted him into the spotlight by winning a series of awards starting with the 2011 Berlin Film Festival where the film won the top prize and swept both acting categories. A SEPARATION also perfects the razor-sharp observation of people that Farhadi started in his previous films and he enhances that by smart calculated edits forcing viewers to ponder moral questions on face value without taking sides.

VOLVER web5th Place: Volver

(2006). Directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Spain. 120 minutes.

September 28 at 12:00 PM at Eau Claire 

Pedro Almodóvar’s masterful look at three generations of women whose lives are linked by a cyclic chain of events.

Raimunda (a brilliant Penélope Cruz) has her hands full dealing with multiple jobs and the living but things get more complicated with a visit from the dead resulting in some unexpected surprises. Death and murder kick-start a cycle of events which shape the lives of six women who end up trusting each other. The other women being Raimunda’s daughter Paula (Yohana Cobo), her sister Sole (Lola Dueñas), mother Irene (Carmen Maura), Irene’s sister Tía Paula (Chus Lampreave) and neighbour Agustina (Blanca Portillo).

Almodóvar pays a loving tribute to his native La Mancha by saturating the screen with eye-popping colour and layering the film with his trademark suspense and seductive elements. As in his other films, women take centre stage and their remarkable performances resulted in the entire female cast sharing the Best Actress Award at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival while Almodóvar took the best screenplay. VOLVER is vintage Almodóvar and pure Cinema!