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Music Selections

Here at CIFF we're always glad to highlight films that are based on music. We strive to find unique, interesting and well-made stories that feature music as a central character, whether it's hip-hop, rock n' roll, or operatic gospel revival. Last year, we kicked things off with the Hank Williams biopic I SAW THE LIGHT at the Opening Gala, and this year we've got a bunch of great music-based films for you to choose from! 

We're also thrilled to announce that this year we'll be hosting a special presentation screening at the new National Music Centre. NMC is the perfect venue to take in a doc that's all about the machine that revolutionized modern sound recording. Tickets for the NMC screening of THE AMERICAN EPIC SESSIONS are now on sale. This year we're working with a new media sponsor – CKUA – to promote all of our Music on Screen Films, including the screening at NMC.  

Read on to see highlights of this year's music-themed films, most of which will be featured in our popular Music on Screen Series. 


The gem of this year's Music on Screen series, THE AMERICAN EPIC SESSIONS resurrects the machine that allowed the first recording artists to electrically set their music down and reproduce it. Using one of those original machines, a production team led by Jack White gets musicians from all genres and styles to pay tribute to their influences by recording classic and modern songs with a retro twist. In a special presentation, this film will be screening at the National Music Centre on September 28 at 7:00 PM. Tickets are limited and cost $15.


This film follows the troubled life of Gary Numan, the icon who hit it big in 1979 with “The Pleasure Principle”. Years of media scorn, anxiety and Asperger's forced him into seclusion, but three decades later, directors Steve Read and Rob Alexander gain unparalleled access to Numan’s life to document the creation of the 2013 album, “Splinter", and how he overcame the obstacles that held him back.


One person doesn't make a band! This tribute to "backing bands" pulls back the curtain to reveal the talent that makes some of the most successful touring acts of all time sound as good as they do. From Kiss, to Ozzy Osbourne, to Metallica, modern rock music would not be the same without the little-known masters that lend their time and skill to the stage.


It's tough to be a punk that's all grown up. That's what Perry (Billie Joe Armstrong) finds out in this tongue-in-cheek dramedy that examines what it means to be washed up and worn out...but still just a little rebellious on the inside.


Pinetop Perkins. Hubert Sumlin. Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. You may not know their names, but you most likely know their music, as these three men were some of the most iconic blues musicians to ever pick up an instrument. Telling their stories from the road, from childhood to their last performance together in their old age, these "sidemen" bring the true meaning of soul to their music.


Being a rapper is difficult. It's basically impossible when you're an 18-year-old female illegal immigrant, living in the slums of Tehran, whose family wants to sell you off for marriage so they can pay the bills. This is the story of one incredibly persisent girl facing incredibly oppressive odds, and how this only fuels her resolve to use her talents to get somewhere better in life. SONITA is an official selection of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.


Bullets are metal, and when they move they can change everything in an instant. But so are guitar strings, and they can do the same. This is the story of music in Libya, and the resurgence of artists after the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi's dictatorship in 2011, despite the threat of imprisonment, abuse or death. It's not only the soldiers who are brave when a country falls into civil war.


Excited about the above films? Tickets for all screenings go on sale September 7when we will announce our full festival lineup. Early Bird Ticket Packages and Passes are Now on Sale, with Early Bird Pricing in Effect until August 12. Don't miss your chance to save! Remember that a festival pass gets you tickets to all films at the festival including galas (subject to capacity)! Festival 10 and 20 ticket packages can be redeemed for any of the above screenings starting September 7. 


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