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$100 Film Festival returns film to its celluloid roots

By Stephanie Tang, February 26 2015 —

The $100 Film Festival, presented by the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF), is celebrating small-format films for the 23rd year.

Historically, the festival challenged artists to create films on $100 worth of Super 8 film, but now filmmakers may also use 16 mm film. While working with film has become unpopular since digital filmmaking is cheaper, festival director Nicola Waugh says small-format films give audiences a chance to see something new.

“Often the people who are working on Super 8 and 16 mm are experimental filmmakers because they’re really interested in the process. They’re doing alternative things to the film like scratching and manipulating and doing different kinds of double exposures,” Waugh says. “You’re going to see films that you’ll never see in Calgary for sure, so [it’s a] rare opportunity to see some really under-the-radar stuff.”

The festival’s program displays a wide variety of techniques and themes. From a collection of stills choreographing the moon’s influences on Earth in Malena Szlam’s Lunar Almanac to the use of chromaflex to place splashes of colour against black and white in Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie’s Ginza Strip, each film has a distinctive style.

Waugh says filmmakers can learn more about the filmmaking process by working with celluloid film.

“It teaches you the importance of each frame, each picture. It shows a lot more depth. A lot of people when they’re watching film will think, ‘oh, this just feels so rich, there’s such a depth to it,” Waugh says. “There’s something there that people try to mimic with digital all the time, but there’s just something that is lost when you go to digital. There’s this really beautiful tactile experience that you have when you watch a film that you really can’t replicate.”

This year, the festival is partnering with local arts organizations such as the Gallery of Alberta Media Art, Untitled Art Society and EMMEDIA’s Particle & Wave Festival to provide off-site programming.

Works from artists Noel Bégin, Christopher Payne and visiting artist Stephen Broomer will be displayed at sites throughout the city. Broomer will host an artist talk on Thursday, Feb. 26 and a workshop on Saturday, Feb. 28 both at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

The $100 Film Festival will feature Film/Music Explosion!, a program where local filmmakers create a Super 8 film based on a song by a local band. The videos, which open each night’s screenings, are then played alongside a live performance.

The $100 Film Festival runs from Feb. 26–28. Screenings start at 7:00 p.m. at the Air Commons’ Engineered Air Theatre. General admission is $12 or $10 for CSIF members, students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.

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