- 2016 CUFF Programming Committee MUST SEES + TOP PICKS

Posted on Friday, April 01, 2016 at 11:00 AM

2016 Calgary Underground Film Festival Programming Committee MUST SEES + TOP PICKS (CUFF 2016 Preview)

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Back again, this year's edition of the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) brings fun, unique and enigmatic programming to Calgary's moviegoers. 2016 marks the unlucky 13th consecutive year for this distinctive film festival.

CUFF in particular prides itself on their programming talent and unique selection of films that originate from the local and international independent film scene. Known for their strong audience engagement, CUFF events and screenings are wickedly entertaining and charmingly laid back. All evening screenings are licensed, with the festival bar serving CUFF branded beer, wine and mixed drinks. DJs are also set up in the theatre, performing music inspired by the theme of the film before the start of the screenings.

Showcasing films across all genres, with an emphasis on boundary breaking and innovative films curated by CUFF's programming committee, which is made up of film lovers with diverse interests and varied backgrounds. Accordingly, the committee is able to procure rare gems and exclusives that normally are never ever able grace the big screens in Calgary, outside of this 7-day event. CUFF challenges Calgary film goers to explore film without judgement, and let loose of the constraints that bind the mainstream film industry.

Expect premieres of 25 feature films and 25 shorts, a Richard Linklater Retrospective, Saturday Morning Cartoons and the return of CUFFcade: custom independent videogame arcade cabinets. Highlights of this year's festival include: Canadian premiere of Taika Waititi's HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE, fresh off its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, will be the opening night film. The world premiere of WRECK CITY, an art documentary about a ground breaking 2013 art experiment where 150 DIY artists rebuilt a city block full of houses, slated for demolition in Calgary, into an art installation. The director and several artists involved in the project will be in attendance for a talk-back following the screening. Richard Linklater is the focus of this year's retrospective, with screenings of his cult classics SLACKER (1991) and DAZED AND CONFUSED (1995), and his latest film EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!, which opened this year's SXSW festival. Confirmed guests, so far, include Documentary Subject/Media Activist Joey Skaggs (ART OF THE PRANK), Documentary Subject Stefan Pokorny and Director Josh Bishop (THE DWARVENAUT), Director Harrison Atkins (LACE CRATER), Director Sean Pierce (MEATHEAD GOES HOG WILD), the filmmaking team behind PATCHWORK, as well Director Adam Rifkin of DIRECTOR’S CUT (starring illusionist Penn Jillette).

So as is tradition, gets an exclusive look from the brain trust of the CUFF Programming Committee and they tell us their personal top picks and must see films for this year’s festival.


Brenda Lieberman, Festival Director & Programmer
Preferred genre: I have the worst time narrowing down, but I definitely favour dark comedy, horror and absurdist comedy.

Top Pick: THE LURE – A mermaid, horror, musical. They had me at mermaids. I was so excited throughout this entire film when I saw it at Sundance. I loved the uniqueness of the story, how well it’s executed, and how incredibly cool it is to see a fresh new take on the musical genre. This is nothing like what you would expect.

Must sees: The Danish film MEN & CHICKEN is like no other film you’ve seen and by one of my absolute favourite directors Anders Thomas Jensen (GREEN BUTCHERS). This film is a perfect blend of boundary pushing, absurdist comedy – but also quiet, as though without any intention. NUTS! is a documentary that feels almost just as absurd and hard to believe it’s real, but it is.

Cameron Macgowan, Programmer
Preferred genre: Documentaries on disastrous movie productions.

Top Pick: LACE CRATER – I can't get this beautiful movie out of my head. One would think a film about a girl having sex with a ghost would go for the cheap laughs but director Harrison Atkins has managed to make a deep and humane film about the nature of human relationships all while being super funny and occasionally creepy.

Must sees: WRECK CITY – A celebration of what might be one of the coolest moments in Calgary in the last 10 years. The Wreck City art project evokes the same rebellious spirit that I think makes CUFF special and we can't wait to share the world premiere of this riveting documentary with you. Plus, the after party at The Palomino is going to be so much damn fun.

Brennan Tilley, Operations Manager & Programmer
Preferred Genre: I gravitate towards films that defy convention. I particularly love comedies.

Top Pick: DIRECTOR'S CUT – In a festival of films that break boundaries, defy convention and expand the possibilities of storytelling, DIRECTOR'S CUT is set apart as the most distinctly different from the rest. Writer/Star Penn Jillette and Director Adam Rifkin have combined their sensibilities and skills to craft a film like no other. They manage to pull back the curtain on film making and a deranged mind.

Must Sees: FIRST GIRL I LOVED – This winner of an Audience Award at Sundance is destined for the pantheon of great coming of age films that fall under the radar on initial release and are later looked back on as classics. It is innovative and fresh in its storytelling, with universally relatable characters. THE SATURDAY MORNING ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT-CEREAL CARTOON PARTY is back with a new three hour set of retro cartoons. Fellow cereal enthusiasts and I have compiled the craziest sugar cereal we could find over the past year. Pajamas and a child-like sense of wonder encouraged.

Cody Cook, Programming Team
Preferred Genre: Horror, Japanese tokusatsu and Troma, but I love watching all types of cinema.

Top Pick: MEATHEAD GOES HOG WILD – This is one of the funniest films I've seen all year. It's the perfect fit for CUFF and I hope a ton of people come out to see it.

Must Sees: BASKIN is a gore filled slow burn that any horror or gore hound should totally check out. PATCHWORK is a cool little horror gem by Alberta filmmaker Tyler MacIntyre. If you're enjoying the Night Terrors screenings you'll definitely love this film! LOVE & PEACE is my most anticipated film of the year. I love Sion Sono and whether you're a huge fan or just getting into these wacky Japanese films, I know, he won't disappoint.

Bryn Evans, Programming Team
Preferred Genre: I like 'em all, but will settle for '80s horror anytime.

Top Pick: Documentary and cult American literature fans won't want to miss UNCLE HOWARD, the story of filmmaker Howard Brookner's capturing of William S. Burroughs on screen, featuring tons of footage of the Beat great, as well as other heroes of the period.

Must Sees: Ben Wheatley has quickly become one of my favourite filmmakers, and I look forward to anything he does, particularly his adaptation of J.G. Ballard's ultra-strange HIGH RISE. I love, love rep cinema and '80s movies, and our Richard Linklater retrospective (SLACKER and DAZED & CONFUSED) paired with his latest, EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!, is the best of both worlds.

Jim Evans, Programming Team
Preferred Genre: Action/Adventure

Top Pick: BABYSITTER MURDERS (playing as part of the SHORTS: DARK AND DELICIOUS shorts package). This is by far my favourite short in the Babysitter Slasher genre. It has a great flow (literally) and is full of surprises. You are rooting for the home team until you're not.

Must Sees: THE BLACK BEAR (also playing as part of the SHORTS: DARK AND DELICIOUS shorts package). ‎This short completely had me on my ass the whole time! Gory and fun and allows you to learn the do's and don'ts when camping in areas where bears may be present. The key takeaway: don't go where bears are as they will find you.

Christian Kelley, Programming Team
Preferred Genre: all of them, dummy. I refuse to choose.

Top Pick: Athina Rachel Tsangari's CHEVALIER (ATTENBERG) hits all my sweet spots. You could describe it as a satirical look at toxic male friendships, a clinical examination of pathological one-upmanship or a critical teardown of bourgeois masculinity. But you'd miss pointing out the most prudent detail; it's BONKERS funny. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys their comedy DRY in all caps.

Must Sees: Where to start?!? Both shorts packages, easy. SHORTS: DARK AND DELICIOUS features the bizarre and unsettling CHECK SURROUNDINGS FOR SAFETY and the profane and unnerving LUXURE. And SHORTS: STRANGE THINGS ARE AFOOT has Canadian treasure Denis Cote(!), the hilarious SETH, and BEV, perhaps the film I loved most in 2015. But you know what else is a Must See? The CUFF crowds! This is my second year working with CUFF and spending time in the Globe Cinema last year was so awesome. Packed houses of film lovers that were so excited and enthused for the coolest, weirdest and wildest stuff we could show. Can't wait to see you weirdos again!

Brittney Kowalski, Programming Team
Preferred Genre: For sure a tough call for me, as I am all about the overall entertainment factor when it comes to cinema. But if I had to choose it would be a toss up between uniquely intriguing documentaries and gory horrors with a comedic component.

Top Pick: BIONIC GIRL (playing as part of the SHORTS: STRANGE THINGS ARE AFOOT shorts package) – Because who doesn't love a strange and quirky French science fiction based musical short film?! Enough said.

Must Sees: MAY WE SLEEP SOUNDLY (also playing as part of the SHORTS: STRANGE THINGS ARE AFOOT shorts package) – A peculiar Canadian short film that takes you on a silently sombre winter journey, leaving a unique feeling with the viewer in the end. I felt as though I was with the filmmaker on their endeavour while watching it. Another must see is ARCANA (preceding BASKIN) – An eerie foreign short film that encompasses skin crawling suspense and witchcraft with no dialogue. How could you go wrong?

Jeff Wright, Programming Team
Preferred Genre: Larry Cohen films.

Top Pick: LOVE & PEACE is Japanese weirdo/auteur Sion Sono's attempt to make a film for children, so expect rock n roll, living toys, a giant turtle, and an alcoholic with magic beans who lives in the sewers.

Must Sees: Ben Wheatley's adaptation of J.G. Ballard's class warfare story, HIGH-RISE, starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Elisabeth Moss, and Luke Evans. 

About CUFF 2016

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 13th edition Calgary Underground Film Festival 2016 has multiple screenings daily between April 11 to 17, 2016 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