Calgary International Film Festival

By Garth Paulson

It’s that time of year again. Local cinephiles pull themselves out of their ass-grooved recliners, floss the popcorn shells out of their teeth and put on something other than their filthy t-shirt with that silhouette Hitchock made famous, to stumble squinting into the real world. What could possibly create such a massive migration of this distinctively reclusive species?

Nothing other than the Calgary International Film Festival, which will be running from Sept. 24 to Oct. 3 at several theatres around our fair city. But it won’t only be those hermits of the cinema, the festival is already attracting the attention of the entire city. With all this anticipation, Festival Director David Marrelli is eager to get things underway.

“It’s been a good year for film,” he says. “We’ve got ten days with over 200 screenings of excellent films.”

Coming a long way since its inauguration, Marelli is pleased with the results of his constantly growing festival.

“Five years ago when we started off, this is the most we could have expected,” he reflects. ” I think it was something missing from the Calgary arts and culture scene. It says a lot about Calgary, by being as successful as it is, it confirms that Calgary isn’t the same place it was twenty years ago. There is an interest, people know what the good films are. Years one through five, we saw as a period of getting established. We now plan to build from that.”

This year’s additions to the festival will see an implementation of several new aspects of cinema for the fest. “The new Hong Kong spotlight will be strong as well as the Quebec spotlight,” says Marelli. “We are excited about the new box office, to have ticket sales online is definitely a step into the world of a growing festival. We had a huge box office crunch last year, we’ve improved that dramatically. “

Still, with the changes the festival has undergone since last year, the prime directive remains the same: to show good movies, and the strong roster of features should help towards that. Marelli has considerable difficulty containing his list of recommendations to a select few. “A lot of people would pick Motorcycle Diaries [a film about the early years of legendary revolutionary Che Guerva] and Bad Education [the latest from Academy Award Winner Pedro Almodóvar], but they will probably receive screenings again later,” he says. “11”09’01 should be great. So should Clean, Maggie Cheung won Best Actress at Cannes for her role in it. This year’s festival will be Calgary’s first opportunity to see Donnie Darko on the big screen. Intermission has a great cast. There are a lot of films in the ‘Reality Reels’ section that are very good. The Revolution will not be Televised is phenomenal, for those who are politically inclined.”

All this variety could scare off casual movie fans wanting to see a few selections without fully submerging themselves into the festival. Matrelli offers some pointers on how to navigate such an all-inclusive festival.

“Go for the films you really want to see, but the festival offers you the chance to experience something you otherwise wouldn’t be able to. We’re offering good movies based on different criteria. If you see the same kind of films it can burn you out. When you go from one style to another it flows a lot better.”

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