By RACHAEL FREY
The Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) kicks off with a gala screening of The Grand Seduction (September 19, 7 pm at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium) directed by Canadian indie film icon Don McKellar. The film tells the story of a disgraced big city doctor, played by Taylor Kitsch, who ends up in a tiny Newfoundland town where the locals are determined to make him to stay. CIFF executive director Steve Schroeder calls it “one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.”
From there, it’s 10 days of non-stop cinema with 200 films screening at the Eau Claire and Globe theatres between September 19 and September 29. Several festival series are returning to the roster by popular demand. These include Music on Screen—dedicated to the ups and downs of the music world, and Masters—films by well-established, prominent directors and performers.
The Family Fare category returns as well, but don’t be fooled—it’s not just for kids. “These films will please discerning adult viewers as well,” says Schroeder. One of his top picks is The Legend of Sarila, Canada’s first 3-D computer-animated feature. Set in 1910, three Inuit youths and their lemming sidekick set out on a journey to find the lost land of Sarila and save their community from famine. The animation draws inspiration from First Nations art and culture. It will play at Eau Claire, September 28 at 7:15 pm and September 29 at 11:45 am.
The Headliners series showcases high profile films that have already generated festival buzz, several of which will likely receive award-season nods. Standouts include the French film Blue is the Warmest Colour, a coming-of-age tale that won the Palme d’Or at the prestigious Cannes International Film Festival (Eau Claire, September 22 at 6:15 pm), and Iranian film The Past, a dysfunctional family melodrama (Eau Claire, September 21 at 7 pm and September 26 at 6:45 pm).
Another of Schroeder’s top picks is Oil Sands Karaoke, a documentary that hits close to home in Alberta. “This is not a political film at all,” Schroder says. “It looks at life in Fort McMurray in a totally different way.” The movie transcends the stereotypes of what it’s like to work in the province’s most ubiquitous industry, following five oilsands workers who belt their hearts out on karaoke night at a local pub. It’s playing at the Globe Theatre, September 25 at 7 pm and September 29 at 4:30 pm.
For a complete schedule and ticket information, visit the Calgary International Film Festival website.