By Gurman Sahota, April 04, 2017 —
Premiering cutting-edge cinema to Calgary audiences and dabbling in a variety of genres — dark humour, horror and science fiction to name a few — the 14th annual Calgary Underground Film Festival will run from April 17–23 at the Globe Cinema.
CUFF lead programmer Cameron Macgowan says the festival is important for university audiences because now is the time when cinematic senses are developing.
“This is when people are forming their tastes and it’s always good to know what exists outside of what you’re spoonfed within the culture,” Macgowan says. “A lot of these films don’t have the advertising budget of [big blockbuster films], so it’s the job of film festivals to bring those to the city to help people get interested in different types of movies that are being made all over the world.”
Films are selected by programmers who travel to other film festivals, connect with people in the film community and stay in touch with local filmmakers. Traditionally, CUFF stays in contact with filmmakers who have submitted short films to the festival before. The festival focuses on pieces that may not otherwise gain viewership because of the smaller budgets of independent films.
“It’s always a joy to bring a first feature film to the city because a lot of those are of a smaller budget and could really use the attention and awareness at a film festival,” Macgowan says.
Although the festival has no set theme, CUFF aims to feature films that are outside of the norm and deviate from formulaic big-budget films. Taking risks with films such as The Untamed — a film that Macgowan says is extremely dark and disturbing — addresses CUFF’s mandate. Macgowan says Calgary audiences are very loyal to the festival.
“There’s definitely an appetite for [it]. We have a loyal audience built in now, people seem to trust the quirky films we bring to the city,” he says.
This year’s festival will highlight 15–20 visiting filmmakers, an increase from previous years. Macgowan says as the festival continues to grow, more filmmakers opt to attend. This sudden growth spurt has helped CUFF evolve with the addition of film panels and post-premiere question and answer periods with visiting filmmakers and audiences.
“We can get these visiting filmmakers to meet with local filmmakers and help grow the scene,” Macgowan says.
Panels such as “Green the Screen,” which talks about being sustainable on film sets and “Saturday Morning Cartoon Party” — an event that features all-you-can-eat cereal in compostable bowls — aims to immerse new filmmakers in the community and also keep the interest of audiences attending premieres.
Macgowan hopes the festival will inspire local filmmakers to create work that they otherwise wouldn’t think possible and take more risks in their creative endeavours.
“That one weird little idea in your head is probably the better idea of the bunch,” Macgowan says. “I just like to foster the weirdness of emerging filmmakers and sometimes they can pay off.”
The Calgary Underground Film Festival will run from April 17–23 at the Globe Cinema. Student pricing is $8 for single tickets and festival passes are available. Tickets are available online or at the box office.
For more information, visit calgaryundergroundfilm.org