The Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) in upon us! This year, CIFF will screen 210 films: 100 features and 110 shorts. The hottest films to hit the festival circuit this year, such as the Alberta-shot BURN YOUR MAPS, Asghar Farhadi’s THE SALESMAN, Pedro Almodóvar’s JULIETA, the American indie and PUNCHING THE CLOWN and Jim Jarmusch’s PATERSON.
“The Calgary International Film Festival is getting better and better, and growing on so many different levels,” said Steve Schroeder, Executive Director, Calgary International Film Festival. “Last year, CIFF set an all-time box office and attendance record with 35,000 fans attending the 12-day festival. This year, we will continue to expand the excitement with a tremendous array of films, galas, filmmakers and special guests in attendance, along with our new Behind the Screen series.”
The 2016 Calgary International Film Festival begins on Wednesday, September 21 and runs until October 2, 2016. Emily and I have taken the time to review some of the films we think you should see, and don’t forget to check back on this post this week, we will add reviews as we watch these films…
A KO Review by Emily Mody
The Unseen is a full length, science fiction film directed by Geoff Redknap. The story follows Bob Langmore (played by Aden Young) while he struggles to adapt to his life as an ex-husband who has also chosen to isolate himself from his daughter Eva (played by Julia Sarah Stone). Langmore has a mysterious condition that is slowly turning his body invisible and this is the main cause of his self-imposed isolation. Langmore also works in a lumberyard in an area that is far removed from city life. As his life seems to become more monotonous with every passing day and his condition worsens he decides to end his life but not before seeing his daughter one last time.
For the most part, I really enjoyed The Unseen. In general, I always really enjoy the utilization of metaphor in the sci-fi and horror genres to demonstrate various layers of meaning. The Unseen is a really good example of how metaphor can be used very effectively. The discussion of the blight of the working class Canadian and how those individuals often feel as if they are unseen or invisible to their superiors was particularly interesting to me. The Unseen utilizes metaphor to say something very valuable about class and Canadian society. The Unseen reminded me of David Cronenberg’s contribution to the body horror genre. In the beginning of The Unseen, I was brought back to films such as Shivers, Videodrome, and Dead Ringers. The beginning had a very similar feel to these horror films, however as the film progressed it seemed to affect me more as a sci-fi film. The Unseen definitely possesses qualities from both genres.
The Unseen contains language and somewhat gory moments. I would say overall though, that this film is definitely appropriate for ages thirteen and up unless you are a particularly sensitive viewer or if you are easily frightened. I like to think that I am a pretty well versed horror fanatic and this film did not scare me at all. The story is so much more than the scary moments that are present. The scares really weren’t the point, which is something I love about The Unseen. There were moments of the film that definitely felt like a strange dream but there is definitely something lovely about that feeling at times. Redknap did a very good job of bringing the audience into this strange world and enveloping them completely. Following in the footsteps of Cronenberg, I think that The Unseen is a very powerful and solid contribution to the landscape of Canadian cinema.
If you are interested in a film that feels a little bit outside the box but has a really great story than I would highly recommend The Unseen. The Unseen will be screened as a part of the Calgary International Film Festival. It will be playing at the Globe on Friday, September 23rdat 9:30pm. Regardless of my personal take on the content, The Globe will not be allowing anyone under the age of 18 into the screening.
Let Her Out
More reviews to come, but don’t miss these screenings….i
A New Moon Over Tohoku
New Moon Over Tohoku is a full-length documentary directed by Linda Ohama. The story follows various Japanese families and the experiences they had during the tsunami in 2011 that decimated the coastline along Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. Drawing on the strength of tradition and the human spirit, Ohama paints an honest and powerful picture of the disaster that rocked the world.
New Moon Over Tohoku is very interesting. I feel like Ohama did an excellent job of portraying the experience of the disaster for the audience. Often it is difficult to fully grasp the nature of the devastation when it is so far removed from your own life. New Moon Over Tohoku provides first hand accounts, which demonstrates the nature of the disaster in a very relatable way. There were parts of the film that were very difficult to watch and made me cry. I suppose this only further demonstrates how effective the first hand accounts are. They allow people to relate to each other on a very human level despite any differences that may separate them.
I remember watching a Canadian documentary on the Hiroshima nuclear disaster when I was in film school. I learned how it is very difficult for Japanese people (culturally) to talk of their experiences because they feel as though their particular experience is not unique. They feel as though they should not be singled out to tell their story because so many people suffered. New Moon Over Tohoku reminded me a lot of that film. The style and tone were very similar.
I would recommend New Moon Over Tohoku to anyone who likes a solid documentary about human courage in the face of overwhelming natural destruction. There were various interviews from people who were not actually present in Japan during the disaster but they had had family there. I thought this was a particularly interesting viewpoint to showcase because so many of my classmates had had families that were directly affected by the tragedy. It was difficult at the time to fully understand what they were going through. I also really like how New Moon Over Tohoku offers a look at the tsunami five years after the destruction. I feel like it is so easy, particularly as people who are so far removed from the disaster, to be actively helpful when the destruction is taking place. People may even continue to provide aide for a while after the disaster has hit. After a period of time, however, people have a tendency to return to their normal life and forget about the destruction that has taken place because it is no longer front-page news. New Moon Over Tohoku is a very important reminder, which demonstrates that the Japanese people who were affected by this tragedy, in some cases, literally lost everything except their lives. A lot of individuals were less lucky than that. The Japanese people are still affected by the destruction of the tsunami to this day even though it is five years later. I think the message is clear and so important: never forget. There is so much work to be done.
New Moon Over Tohoku is being screened as a part of The Calgary International Film Festival. It will be playing at Cineplex Eau Claire 4 on Friday, September 30that 6:45pm and The Globe on Saturday, October 1stat 1:45pm. Director Linda Ohama as well as Kanako Sasaki and Sera Sasaki (documentary subjects) will be in attendance at both screenings.