- 2019 Calgary Underground Film Festival Programming Team TOP PICKS (CUFF 2019 Preview)

Posted on Friday, April 12, 2019 at 10:00 AM

2019 Calgary Underground Film Festival Programming Team TOP PICKS (CUFF 2019 Preview)

Preview by x CUFF

Returning for their SWEET 16th anniversary, the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) continues to break barriers for Calgary film lovers who want to see diverse, genre bending and eclectically curated films. This year's festival is no different, running from April 22 to April 28, 2019, exculsively at the Globe Cinema in downtown YYC. loves CUFF, and every year the CUFF programming team gives us a special sneak peek to their favorite standouts of the festival; we are chomping at the bit to GO GO GO!

CUFF engages a world-class programming team that searches near and far for off-beat films that they can share with Calgary audiences, and in return, CUFF's passionate fans make each film screening energetic and entertaining. Whether you start with the Opening night screening of zombie comedy LITTLE MONSTERS + Afterparty, catching one of three fantastic SHORTS packages, playing the five new CUFFCADE games, or checking out the classic Saturday Morning All-You-Can-Eat Cereal Cartoon Party, there is always something engrossing to keep you busy.

This year's highlights include 27 feature films, live perfomances, panels, and tons of international and local special guests and filmmakers. Local film connections play a signficant part for 2019, with the spotlight on a strong roster of local films directed, produced, and starring Calgarians, presented with community partner CBC Calgary. Be sure to catch RED LETTER DAY - the debut feature from CUFF's own Cameron Macgowan, HARPOON - filmed and produced in YYC, WHO LET THE DOGS OUT - directed by Calgarian Brent Hodge, FOOSBALLERS - featuring Calgarian Lindy Ly, or attend the free SCRIPT SHOWCASE: EVENTS TRANSPIRING - from Ted Stenson's upcoming feature film shooting in Calgary this summer. This year there are two nights from the FOUND FOOTAGE team, including the new show FOUND FOOTAGE FESTIVAL: VOLUME 9 and the supremely popular FOUND FOOTAGE FESTIVAL: AFTER DARK. Even documentary lovers can rejoice with the feature screenings of ASK DR RUTH, MIDNIGHT FAMILY, and F*** YOU ALL: THE UWE BOLL STORY. Also new for this year is CUFFtots, afternoon screenings for parents with babies!


The CUFF programming team works together to review all films submitted to the Calgary Underground Film Festival. Here are the top picks from the programmers and previewers that watched the most films selecting the lineup for the 2019 festival.  

Festival Director & Programmer: Brenda Lieberman

PREFERRED GENRE: I typically like any quirky relationship story, or just quirky stories in general. But if I had to pick a genre, I do love a good coming of age film and horror-comedy. I also love when anything absurdist makes its way into the film.


VIRGINS – This is a coming of age film centered around the myth of a mermaid in a small Israeli town. This is a world film, that stuck with me when I first saw it. The film feels raw, effortless, and unique to me.

FOUND FOOTAGE FESTIVAL – Always one of my favourites, and worth seeing again, even if you’ve seen them before. Or ABSOLUTELY for the first time. They always have a new show (Volume 9 is World premiering at CUFF), and the audience laughter is amazing to experience and be part of.

MIDNIGHT FAMILY – I love documentaries that immerse you like this one does. You really get to know the world of these independent ambulance drivers, and what they are going through. It’s eye-opening and powerful in so many ways. Really well done, and a subject too you don’t often think of when selecting a film to watch.

Lead Programmer: Cameron Macgowan

PREFERRED GENRE: The bloodier, the better.

KNIFE + HEART – The most beautiful horror movie of the year. Pays homage to the Euro-trash genre while exploring some heartbreaking themes. Not for the prudish.

MIDNIGHT FAMILY – Compassionate, empathetic and gorgeously photographed. By the time MIDNIGHT FAMILY ended, I felt like I'd lived another life for 90 min. 

VIOLENCE VOYAGER – Starts out innocent and cute enough but oh God, do things get dark. There are images from VIOLENCE VOYAGER that have permanently seared themselves into my brain and I am forever grateful. 

Lead Programmer & Operations Manager: Brennan Tilley

PREFERRED GENRE: Anything that defies convention with a touch of comedy. I would be all in on a neo-noir board game adaptation.

HAIL SATAN? – CUFF had the Canadian Premiere of Penny Lane's goat testicle transplant documentary NUTS! in 2016. HAIL SATAN? further explores what we believe and why. Questions are raised by turning a mirror to the separation of church and state via the actions of the Satanic Temple.

WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? – Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof. Brent Hodges, another CUFF alum (A BRONY TALE and FREAKS AND GEEKS: THE DOCUMENTARY) follows Ben Sisto, a connoisseur of cultural oddities as he asks the question "Who let Who Lets the Dogs Out out?" A laugh out loud examination of copyright law, artistic integrity and one man's obsession with the history of a very catchy hook. And everyone having a ball Yepee ah yo.

THE SATURDAY MORNING ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT-CEREAL CARTOON PARTY! – The amount and variety of cereal has reached ridiculous levels this year. Two years ago, I thought was a peak. There was no way cereal makers would push the envelope any further. I was wrong. Some of the stuff that came out this year is beyond belief. I made it my mission to track these things down but I want someone to look me in the eye and explain why their bowl contains Sour Patch Kids cereal mixed with Chicken and Waffles Honey Bunch of Oats. Are we no longer human?!

HARPOON – A deftly executed thriller that makes well placed allusions to its influences. Humourously plays with the principle of Chekhov's Gun in multiple ways. It is rare that a film includes drama, comedy and gore each done so well.

Programming Team & Marketing: Laura Carlson

PREFERRED GENRE: Give me a slice-of-life film where not much happens and an open ending that leaves most people saying “what” as they leave the theatre (mumblecore fan right here).

IN FABRIC – If you’re into CUFF’s brand of off-beat horror, it doesn’t get more CUFF than a movie about a literal killer dress.

Festival experiences are key when making your schedule. Don’t miss out on those events that can never be replicated outside those glorious seven days of CUFF. FOUND FOOTAGE FESTIVAL is really unlike anything out there, and this year CUFF’s presenting two unique shows. Get ready to laugh out loud with over 300 of your new best friends as Nick and Joe guide you through their most hilarious, bizarre and disturbing VHS finds.

There are some movies that demand to be seen on the big screen, so do yourself a favour and catch KNIFE + HEART and HER SMELL before watching at home is your only option. You owe it to yourself to fully surrender to the visuals and sound design of both these films.

SECRET SCREENING – Take your chance on the mystery film. There’s nothing quite like the experience of showing up to a film and having no clue what’s going to unfold over the next two hours. Trust in your CUFF programmers! 

Programming Team: Cody Cook

PREFERRED GENRE: I’m a big fan of trash cinema! I love shlock, exploitation, horror and Troma.

MUTANT BLAST – The Night Terrors gang will be co-presenting this brand new film from Troma Entertainment and you know those guys like to have a good time! This one shouldn’t be missed.

ASSASSINAUT – This is one of my favourite films playing at this year’s festival. It’s mixes a ton of genres and is a super fun adventure / splatter film. I know any fans of SCIENCE TEAM will love ASSASSINAUT.

F*** YOU ALL: THE OWE BOLL STORY – If you love Owe Boll’s films you need to see this film! If you hate Owe Boll’s films you need to see this film! If you love film in general, buy a ticket! This is a very informative, up close look at the world’s most controversial filmmaker.

NEKROTRONIC – This film reminded me of old school Peter Jackson. Lots of blood and guts with a ton of great comedy.

Programming Team: Jim Evans

PREFERRED GENRE: Shorts is my preferred previewing genre, and anything with gratuitous sex, violence, gore and amazingly spun yarns of dark comedy.


UNDER COVERS (plays as part of SHORTS: THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME) – Think nick park animation on a wild sexy voyeuristic adventure. Where else can you find god fry a nun and cute little ghosts (wink)?

TECHNOLOGY LAKE (plays as part of SHORTS: THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME) – Be prepared to bring an extra ass as yours will definitely fall off after watching.

ASPARAGUS TIPS (plays as part of SHORTS: FRIENDS AND LOVERS IN CONFUSING TIMES) – This is 4 min of messed up metal pounding asparagus humour and a little shall I say “mouthwateringly delicious”. 

Programming Team: Christian Kelley

PREFERRED GENRE: YouTube News Bloopers

SHORTS:THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME – Features two of the best comedians in Canada (Jackie Pirico and Aisha Brown in LOVE AFTER ANNE), an incredible sequel that works whether you've seen the first film or not (THE PROCEDURE 2) and SQUIRREL, the absolute best film of 2019. Come at me, 'Escape Room'.

HER SMELL – Alex Ross Perry, y'know? Done deal.

BEAU TRAVAIL – I mean... It's a legit masterpiece. See it BIG at the Globe. 

Programming Team: Phillip Liesemer

PREFERRED GENRE: Midnight Cult. B Movies. Classics. Bonus points for Sex, Drugs and or Rock & Roll.

KNIFE + HEART – This is definitely what I think of when I think of CUFF. Crosses the line in all the right ways.

ASSASSINAUT – What I liked most about this was that it was a pre-teen driven schlocky sci-fi horror that wasn't dumbed down. I had a great time watching this film.

LOST HOLIDAY – There are a lot of American Indie films that rely on a combination of great chemistry between the leads, clever dialogue and outrageous events to make up for their lack of a hollywood budget. Unlike most of them, LOST HOLIDAY pulls it off.

Programming Team: Hogan Short

PREFERRED GENRE: Always in bed...probably a British rom com in the morning, a heavy family drama in the afternoon, and some horror at night. No slasher though, all ghosts and aliens for me.

HIGH LIFE – A sexual sci fi arthouse film with sexual experimentation and black hole exploration. That was enough for me. Claire Denis has again crafted a film that is always surprising you, challenging you, and ultimately rewarding you.

HAPPY FACE – Features real people with facial differences as they tell the stories of their fictionalized selves. This blends to make an almost documentary style point of view that is really refreshing. Moments in HAPPY FACE sometimes feel impossible to look at, and others impossible to look away.

IN FABRIC – A semi surrealist sexual film that follows a cursed dress passing from person to person in a department store during the busy season. What a premise! This is a nightmare with style.

About CUFF 2019

The Calgary Underground Film Festival is committed to showcasing ground breaking, provocative independent film with an emphasis on emerging genres. We strive to show works that defy convention in form, style and content, screening a wide spectrum of contemporary works in a variety of categories including narrative, documentary, animation and shorts.

The sweet 16th edition Calgary Underground Film Festival 2019 has multiple screenings daily between April 22 to 28, 2019 exclusively at The Globe Cinema (617 - 8 Avenue SW, Calgary, AB).

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NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to