The spotlight will be on Alberta’s flourishing film industry this fall when the Calgary International Film Festival returns to screens in theatre and at home.
With thriving local production facilities, Alberta films are garnering attention and are well worth the separate category at the festival, says Brenda Lieberman, lead programmer for Calgary Film.
“This year’s Alberta lineup is as diverse as ever and we’re excited to showcase the variety of talented home-grown filmmakers, cast and crew. The stories vary in genre from coming of age to horror, thriller, documentary and post-apocalyptic. Featuring Alberta locations and local cast and crew, these films all highlight the strength of our industry and our storytellers.”
The Calgary International Film Festival runs from Sept. 22 to Oct. 2 and will feature an Alberta Spotlight section with both narrative and documentary features as well as the return of Alberta Spirit Shorts. The five films in Alberta Spotlight and 11 shorts in Alberta Spirits were announced Wednesday.
Longtime Calgary film alumni Trevor Anderson brings his film Before I Change my Mind from its world premiere at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland. The 1980s coming-of-age film deals with gender fluidity and fitting in at a middle school in a small town.
An all-female cast is in Calgary-based Metis director Berkley Brady’s feature debut Dark Nature. This creepy take about a therapy group on an isolated retreat in the Canadian Rockies features a soundtrack by local band Ghostkeeper.
Another first film is Father of Nations, by Aleisha Anderson who turned Southern Alberta locations, like Hilda, Brooks and the Badlands, into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. This film features an almost entirely Alberta cast and crew.
The two documentaries are at either end of the spectrum, from a Filipino drag queen in a small Bible Belt town trying to provide for his family back home (Francheska: Prairie Queen by Laura Lynn O’Grady) to a dark look at mental illness. Calgary director Wendy Hill-Tout’s Insanity is a personal look at how society has transitioned from providing care in asylums to dumping people into the streets and jails. Hill-Tout’s brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and suicidal ideation but was released from hospital and was never seen again. Now, 25 years later, she recounts her family’s search for him on the streets of Vancouver.
The Alberta Spirits category features a diverse range of short films.
Piita Aapasskaan, directed by Brock Davis Mitchell, is about a young Blackfoot man who escapes family drug use and generational trauma by skateboarding. When that isn’t enough to help him cope, he turns to Fancy Dancing at powwows.
Making a name for himself in the Calgary film community is director Asim Overstands, who, along with Alim Sabir, follows up his 2021 Mean Hakeem with Cold Tea. Using a primarily Calgary crew, the short looks at a former couple trying to find closure when they unexpectedly reunite on a night out.
Tank Standing Buffalo also returns to Calgary Film with a pseudo-prequel to his previous short film RKLSS. His new autobiography, Savj, uses animation to tell the story of eight siblings trying to survive alone in a forest where evil lurks. The short is narrated by actor Corey Feldman.
Other Alberta shorts to be highlighted in Alberta Spirits are:
Not That Deep, directed by Misha Maseka
Ayoungman, directed by Holly Fortier and Larry Day
Gathering Storm, directed by Jeff Khounthavong
Quinn, directed by Eva Colmers
Foul, directed by Ted Stenson
Hearth of the Lion, directed by Vicki Van Chau
Kikino Kids, directed by Barry Bilinksy
Rebecca’s Room, directed by Gillian McKercher