Lights, camera, Calgary!

Calgary International Film Festival goes behind the scenes

This year marks the 17th year of the Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF), and organizers are expecting this to be its most engaging year yet.

With over 200 short and feature-length films from over 40 countries playing from Sept. 21 to Oct. 2, the festival expects to continue bringing in a diverse crowd of movie buffs, couch critics and festival newcomers.

Steve Schroeder, executive director of CIFF, said that Calgarians in general fit a wide range of demographics that contribute directly to the festival’s enduring success.

“Far from the image of Calgarians being conservative and very close-minded, I actually find that Calgarians-— with the level of awareness we have of the world out there, and the level of education and travel that we do —Calgarians are really very caring, and actually very engaged with the world,” said Schroeder.

“And that’s what a film festival is all about; about engaging the world through a cinematic vision.”

Schroeder said that statistically, Calgarians go to more movies per capita than any other city in Canada, so it would only make sense that CIFF continues to draw new audiences every year.

Last year, over 35,000 people attended the festival, up from 20,000 the year prior. Schroeder said he is “cautiously optimistic” that the number of attendees will grow again this year.

Though he believes the festival is not immune to the current economic recession, the interest still seems to be there, and ticket sales are already doing very well.

Schroeder also said the festival offers a great bang for your buck, with most shows costing $15, or $13 for students and seniors.

CIFF offers film-lovers the opportunity to see exceptional films and documentaries that generally don’t make it into wide release, with this year being no exception. This year’s festival features Jim Jarmusch’s latest, Paterson, a quiet, simple dramedy starring Adam Driver as a small-town bus driver.

The festival will also be presenting the world premiere of Burn Your Maps, a feature film shot in Alberta, starring Jacob Tremblay, who stole our hearts in last year’s hit, Room, as a little boy convinced that he is a Mongolian goat-herder.

A real coup for the festival will be the screening of the latest Rolling Stones documentary, Olé! Olé! Olé! A Trip Across Latin America. The film follows the legendary band on their latest tour, travelling through South and Central America, with their final show in the newly un-embargoed Cuba, playing for more than a million people in Havana.

Along with numerous full-length films and documentaries, CIFF features a wide range of events including opening galas, short film showcases and the ever-popular Late Show Series, which features the very best in horror, gross-out and bizarre genre films.

New to the festival is the Behind the Screen series, which Schroeder said is “all about fostering direct interaction between the makers and the audience.”

The series, developed “by filmmakers for film fans,” hosts events around the city, which includes a studio tour of the newly opened Calgary Film Centre, a building featuring over 50,000 square feet of custom sound stages and film production workshops.

Behind the Screen also offers the chance to see internationally recognized make-up and special effects artist, Geoff Redknap, known for his work on Deadpool and Star Trek Beyond, as he shows us the behind-the-scenes movie magic of make-up and prosthetics.

One of the most anticipated Behind the Screen events, said Schroeder, welcomes Andrew Simpson, an animal trainer who calls Calgary home, and has gained acclaim for his work as a wolf trainer for Game of Thrones and The Revenant.

Because there is so much to choose from, said Schroeder, the whole line-up can be a little overwhelming for first-time visitors to the festival, but it’s well-worth the time to put together your own must-see list.

“It’s a great time of year for film, and it’s going to be another great festival.”

For tickets and more information about the Calgary International Film Festival, please visit: www.calgaryfilm.com

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