2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Photo courtesy of CIFF

Reflecting on CIFF 2023

By Ansharah Shakil, October 5 2023—

The Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) is an event to look forward to every year, being one of the many exciting film events in Calgary and the largest film festival in Alberta. Like last year, CIFF presented a variety of films: Canadian, international, full-length and shorts, some of which were available online for streaming, but most of which were able to be seen in the festival’s venues of Eau Claire Cineplex and Globe Cinema. There were also industry panels to help young filmmakers or empower minority content creators, filmmaker Q&As, red carpet guests and special experiences such as the free LOT58 party, which not only included fireworks and an outdoor screening of Grease, but food trucks, live music and the second annual CIFF red carpet. 

But it is watching movies that are the main objective of CIFF, after all, and this year’s festival more than delivered. Films with well-established actors like Elliot Smith and Amanda Seyfried or rising ones like Rachel Sennott were shown alongside underground films and documentaries, local films and international ones. The star-studded cast of American film Dumb Money, which includes Pete Davidson, America Ferrera and Sebastian Stan, is entertaining and chaotic with a genuinely moving message. Alberta and Calgary had their time in the spotlight too, with a selection of excellent films like the drama Faultline and the documentary Close the Divide. Films such as Fitting In and My Animal showcased a wide variety of Canadian culture.

My Animal is an example of the many films at this festival which celebrated queer identity. Another is the heart-wrenching and award-winning Spanish film 20,000 Species of Bees, which depicts a stunning story of gender identity with an astonishing performance from its young lead and will wring emotion from any member of the audience who watches it.    

Throughout the festival, there were films that encapsulated multiple aspects of the experiences of minorities. It was delightful to see so many immigrant stories shown on screen — films like The Persian Version and The Queen of My Dreams, which portrayed queer South Asian people meaningfully, along with In Flames, one of the first South Asian horror movies to premiere at a festival. Standouts from this year’s international films include the fascinating, Cannes award-winning Monster from Japan, and Sweden’s Fantastic Machine, which delved into the rise of modern media. 

From music documentaries to romcoms to thrillers, the selection for films this year made it almost to catch everything, but where CIFF really shines is its animation selection, most of which could luckily be viewed online in case you weren’t able to come out to the festival venues. Shorts packages gathered together a series of thematically related films, including a Youth by Youth Cinema package that focused on work by young filmmakers. 

More than anything else, CIFF is a celebration of creativity for the creators and actors as well as the audience. It showcases films for everyone and draws the audience’s attention to films they otherwise might never have seen, and now know to look forward to for theatrical releases. It’s a vital part of Calgary, and an unforgettable experience, and thankfully if you missed out this time, there’s always next year.

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet