- Calgary Film Programming TOP PICKS (Calgary International Film Festival 2017 Preview)

Posted on Thursday, September 07, 2017 at 09:00 PM

Calgary Film Programming TOP PICKS (Calgary International Film Festival 2017 Preview)

Preview by x Calgary Film

Summer is over... though here at, we see September as the beginning of the new film season in Calgary. And it always starts off with a bang, as the Calgary International Film Festival will kick off their 18th year as YYC's grandest and most extravagant film festival, running from September 20 to October 01, 2017.

Calgary Film's dependable programming leads the way this year with some incredible choices across a diverse range of genres, boasting over 200 features, shorts, and special events for the 2017 festival. With so many films to choose from, unless you are a glorious festival pass holder (pass purchase link here), most attendees will only be able to screen a handful of films.

As a way to sort out the best of the best, the Calgary Film Programming has given us their picks of the favorites of the festival!!



New American Cinema and Music on Screen Programmer: Guy Lavallee

THE LIGHT OF THE MOON: Stephanie Beatriz's stunningly raw and honest performance helps make this one of the year's best films, tackling a very sensitive and emotional subject in a way that's never quite been done before. This is probably the film that has "stuck" with me the most this year.

SMALL TOWN CRIME: Playing in the same sandbox as some of my favourite iconic crime fiction authors (think Elmore Leonard), SMALL TOWN CRIME dishes up a delicious, '70s-style vibe, anchored by the great John Hawkes. The one film this year that I just did not want to see end!

MIGHTY GROUND: The most inspirational - and inspiring - music doc of the year, MIGHTY GROUND proves that no one is beyond redemption and that everyone deserves a second chance. At a point in time when we need basic human compassion more than ever, MIGHTY GROUND helped restore my faith in humanity.

TURN IT AROUND: THE STORY OF EAST BAY PUNK: As someone who grew up listening to a lot of the bands featured in this film (Green Day is still my favourite band to this day), this exhilarating and incredibly comprehensive look back at the East Bay Punk scene had me grinning from ear to ear.


World Cinema Programmer: Sachin Gandhi

There is a rich variety of themes in the World series but I want to highlight a few films that bring a creative and new perspective to traditional genres.

WESTERN: An intelligent reworking of the Western genre where the East forms the promised land for jobs and riches as a group of German construction workers heads to Bulgaria. The guns are absent but horses and masculinity aren’t and as a result, it isn’t long before the German workers find themselves in a standoff with the locals.

HAVE A NICE DAY: Corruption, political references, mobsters, crooks, a heist, an insane hunt for money. The anger of Jia Zhang-ke filtered via the lens of Quentin Tarantino. The end result is a wildly unpredictable animated film.

In addition, a shout-out to MARLINA THE MURDERER IN FOUR ACTS (a lively tribute to Spaghetti Westerns or the world’s first “Satay Western”) and THE NIGHT GUARD (smartly injects morality and honesty into a thriller framework).


Programming Manager & Programmer: Brenda Lieberman

In Brenda Lieberman we trust!

CROSS MY HEART - A French Canadian 1970s period piece where the kids are fighting to stay together as a family. This is a sweet, cute but heartbreaking story that will captivate you the whole way through. The kids carry the entire film, and you’ll be amazed by their performances. A must see.

PUBLIC SCHOOLED - This film is a super fun, heartwarming, quirky comedy (I always love the quirky), which seemed perfect for our audience. I also feel like the timing was bang on for this one, with the number of friends I know homeschooling their kids.

EMO THE MUSICAL - Love this film. I am a sucker for musicals, always have been, but found this film fun, extremely well done, and the songs are catchy. This film is perfect for a wide range of ages, including youth, and unlike anything we’ve shown.

A DAY - This film follows the ground hog day style of repeating events, but in a way I haven’t seen done before. Each new scene that repeats is unique, intense, and thrilling. This is a fantastic Korean action film that will leave you in suspense and hook you in for the ride.


Documentary Programmer: Alex Rogalski

PACMEN: In the surreal aftermath of the 2016 US election, everyone is wondering "how did we get here?" PACMEN has a few of the answers. It's incredible observational cinema that isn't pushing an agenda. It's fascinating to see the behind the scene individuals who are so dedicated they can't admit the emperor has no clothes.

STRAD STYLE: A friend of my described this film as AMERICAN MOVIE meets classical music. This is a fun film for those who are scared by big issue documentaries. It won both the audience and jury awards at the Slamdance Film Festival earlier this year, and we're excited that both the director and subject will be coming to Calgary. If you've never been a risk-taker but are a bit of dreamer, this is a film worth your time.


Shorts Programmer: Brennan Tilley

With nearly 80 shorts in this year's festival, we are able to provide selections for a variety of tastes. With a mix of the year's most acclaimed shorts and some gems that have remained as of yet undiscovered, the following two packages are ones I am most looking forward to screening for audiences of the film festival.

PROS AND CONSEQUENCES: A sampling of shorts that show the far reaching implications of people's actions. The awards garnered by these films are a testament to how these films each strike a chord with juries and audiences.

LOVERS IN A DIFFERENT TIME: A collection of novel takes on love and romance. The perfect package for people looking for fun and a healthy dose of the surreal.


Shorts Programmer: Karilynn Thompson

INTERSPECIES AND INTERGALACTIC SHORTS PACKAGE: One of the most fun and bizarre of the shorts packages.

WALL:  The first animated feature documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada, experience life along the Israel/Palestine border.

Some of the other shorts I love are: BONBONÉ, FIX AND RELEASE, SKIN FOR SKIN and UGLY.


About Calgary Film

Calgary Film is a 12-day showcase of up to 200 multi-genre feature and short films from Canada and over 40 other countries. The festival hosts gala events, screenings, special presentations, and a Behind the Screen series that emphasizes unique and exciting ways for filmmakers and fans to interact.

Calgary Film is now the largest film festival in Alberta, and is the sixth largest in Canada. It is also an Oscar-qualifying festival for short films and was recently named one of "50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, 2016" by MovieMaker Magazine.

The 18th edition Calgary International Film Festival 2017 has multiple screenings daily between September 20 to October 01, 2017 at Eau Claire Market Cinemas, Globe Cinema, Jack Singer Concert Hall, Arts Commons, and Theatre Junction Grand in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Local Scene Event: 18th Calgary International Film Festival 2017 >
Local Scene Event: Calgary International Film Festival Trailer Party 2017 >

Calgary International Film Festival Schedule >

Calgary International Film Festival >
Calgary Film Facebook >
Calgary Film Twitter >

Buy Tickets & Passes >


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