The 19th annual Calgary International Film Festival is just about ready to blast off again from September 19 to September 30, 2018. I love this time of year because I get to share experiences with other people in the city who possibly love this art form as much as I do. Calgary Film creates a feeling of belonging a community unlike any other festival in this city.

Of course, I have created a list of the my top pics to see at this year’s Calgary International Film Festival 2019. This year the films seem a bit heavier with political or socio-economic driven message, more-so that any past years I can recall. This is the job of film, to make us see the world differently, take our mind to far away places that create experience we may not be able to achieve in our day-to-day lives.

This year I was drawn to films that are more controversial and audiences from other festivals have either loved our completely hated.

I am going to start with the film that has critically been the most hated, but is from one of the most interesting director in contemporary cinema and perhaps the most disturbed . Lars von Trier. Trier’s film The House that Jack Built will be at the Calgary International Film Festival 2019 on Saturday September 22, 2018 at 9:30pm (in Eau Claire 6). This film had over 100 walk-outs at the Cannes Film Festival in May. One woman was quoted commenting about the film; “It’s disgusting,”as she evacuated the Palais.

I am not a fan or horror films by any means, however I find von Trier’s films to be far more psychological that I do slasher, this one might push it. I am curious to see what caused people to leave and  find out for myself what was so “disgusting”. The trailer looks like a hybrid of American Psycho and Natural Born Killers. Starring Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, and Elvis Presley’s grand daughter Riley Keough the cast creates a strange dynamic from the on-set.




Over a decade ago I saw the film Sharkwater, a Canadian documentary written and directed by Rob Stewart. The film focused on sharks being hunted to extinction within the next few decades. I learned just how important sharks were to ocean ecology because they prevent the overconsumption of plankton by other fish, which moderates climate change. Stewart unfortunately died during a scuba diving incident while filming the sequel to Sharkwaterlast year. The sequel Sharkwater: Extinction is screening at Calgary Interntational Film Festival on Fri, Sep 21st, 7:10 PM @ Eau Claire 5 and Thu, Sep 27th, 9:45 PM @ Eau Claire 2Producers Brian Stewart and Sandy Stewart in attendance for the September 21 screening.

Lightening the mood and changing up the focus to optimism in this crazy world  today, acclaimed musician & activist Michael Franti directs Stay Human . Through his songs, the stories of people who have chosen to overcome cynicism with optimism and hope he reflects on his own personal journey. This film explores Franti’s past facing adversity as a child, struggling to find his voice as a musician, and how he came to find inspiration through these stories. Stay Human screens on Sat, Sep 22nd, 6:30 PM @ Globe Cinema – Down & Wed, Sep 26th, 9:15 PM @ Eau Claire 6.


The next film on my list was an official selection at HotDocs 2018 and won the top 20 Audience Favorite. Letters from Masanjia is about a letter from a Chinese prisoner in a forced labour camp. The letter is found in a a box of a Halloween decorations by a woman in Oregon, USA. The letter attracts the worlds attention when the woman passes the letter on to international media.

The author of the letter, Sun Yi, continues to risk his life as the story unfolds, providing hidden camera footage and damning details for the world to witness of the Chinese forced labour camps.

Director of Letters from Masanjia will be in attendance at the Calgary International Film Festival when the film screens Sat, Sep 22nd, 5:15 PM @ Eau Claire 4 and Sun, Sep 23rd, 2:00 PM @ Eau Claire 3.

The last film on my list looks adorable and funny. That is why I chose it, because sometime I just want to escape reality into another characters and laugh. All About Nina is written and directed by Eva Vives and is about Nina Geld (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who is a comedian making her way to the top. Nina’s professional life is quickly on the rise, but her personal life seems to be going the other direction, will Nina find a way to achieve balance? We will have to see the film to find out 🙂  All About Nina screens on Sun, Sep 23rd, 6:45 PM @ Eau Claire 2 and Sat, Sep 29th, 11:00 AM @ Eau Claire 1.

The Calgary International Film Festival runs September 19 until the 30, 2019. Visit www.calgaryfilm.com for film guide, to buy tickets and to learn more.


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