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Photo of Carol Todd in the documentary "Dark Cloud." // Photo courtesy of the Calgary International Film Festival.

Diverse and exciting CIFF lineup announced

By Sophia Lopez, September 10 2020 —

With the Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) coming up in a few weeks, announcements about the film lineup have been released.

Recently, CIFF announced some of the films that are going to be presented at the festival, with each one ranging in genre and background. In this list, a clear representation of diversity is seen, and it also features many local projects by directors from Alberta.

From documentaries that spread awareness on important issues, to horror films that will make you think twice, and all the way to drama films that teach us about universal compassion — the CIFF is a festival that has a place for everyone. 

At this festival, the inclusion of different countries, genres, and ideas are very present. Not only does the CIFF celebrate the diversity of the wide variety of creators, but it also promotes the beauty of being able to express opinions and experiences freely and artistically. 

Dark Cloud is a film that plans to educate it’s audience on the issues of suicide and cyberbullying, to raise awareness about such topics, and help people become more comfortable speaking about them. 

One of the co-directors and producers of the documentary Dark Cloud, Matt Embry, expresses his pride about being from Calgary, where the festival originates.

“I’m a very proud Calgarian,” says Embry, “and I think Calgarians need to know that; that what we do in this city, it may feel local, but it’s got international appeal and recognition.”

Embry, being a previous CIFF Audience Award Recipient, touches on how the CIFF tries to embrace and promote films from all over the world.

“From my perspective it doesn’t matter where you are if you want it to reach people around the world,” says Embry.

Holly Dupej, also co-director and producer of Dark Cloud, promotes the importance of having discussions about suicide and cyberbullying, even if these topics might make us uncomfortable.

“Our aim in making a film is to start a conversation at the very least,” says Dupej. “Get people inspired to take action for change and maybe put a little good into the world.”

For those new to the CIFF, horror films such as Robert Cuffley’s Bright Hill Road, might be a good way to start settling into the festival.  With his new film being the fifth one to take part in the CIFF, Cuffley has proven to not only provide quality content to his audience, but also show how the newest technology isn’t necessarily the key to making a great film.

“I was trying to prove a point that it’s what happens in the story [that matters] not the camera that’s filming it,” says Cuffley.

Along with the producer of the film, Colin Sheldon, Cuffley plans to bring a film to the festival that won’t be your basic mainstream horror film, but rather one that is more about “psychological manipulation,” as he says.

The CIFF also presents films that everyone can relate to in some way, such as Warren Sulatycky’s Jasmine Road, a film that sheds light on important crises occurring in our society, such as how countries deal with immigration.

“I wanted to tell a story about the experience of newcomers coming to Canada, and primarily to Alberta,” says Sulatycky “I was curious, what are their lives like when they arrive, what are the lives they’ve left behind?”

Sulatycky wanted to create a film that truly shows people the good and the ugly truth about what some, if not all, newcomers go through when immigrating to another country.

“We must give love to strangers, to people who need help, not turn them away, not put up walls, not create borders,” says Sulatycky. “We’re moving backwards if we don’t allow people to live rich, full lives to the best of their human abilities.”

To read about the rest of the films click here and make sure to visit the CIFF website to see the full film lineup, as well as for more information regarding CIFF 2020 — Sept. 24-Oct.4. If you’re interested in single tickets, those will also be available on the website on Sept. 10. 

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