Film Fest more unifying than US politics

By Stan Molchanov

Canadians are trying to do what the Germans so successfully did before the onslaught of World War II: unify the beautiful people within this massive landmass into a fully functioning nation. Admittedly, as a nation we are quite scattered and thus unprepared for war if it were to encroach on our unsuspecting collective unconscious.

This year’s Calgary International Film Festival is not propaganda used to shape our pansy-ass county into a war mongrel. No, not quite. In terms of film festival concepts, this one does not stray from the tried and tested approach of other successful festival such as the Sundance Film Festival, or the Cannes Festival in France.

Mainly to expose many films to a wider audience, the annual film festival returns to selected Calgary theatres, introducing various Calgarian and Canadian directors, producers, and filmmakers.

This is not to say foreign filmmakers will be disregarded. A large faction of the festival shall be devoted entirely to foreign films as well as shorts, music videos, and filmmakers.

The festival is marking its fifth year and second year as a ten-day festival within the confines of Calgary’s downtown area. With a record number of screenings spanning in at 74, the projected attendance for this year is approximately 40,000 people, an impressive progression compared to the mere 8,000 in the first year of the festival. Approximately 307 features, documentaries, and shorts spanning 34 countries will be premiered to audiences. Among the impressive line up is a number of films from Quebec and Hong Kong cinema, as well as several features displaying the best in film noir.

Wanting to expose more Canadian-bred content, one of the festival’s main features is a satire in the same vein as Snatch, and Locked Stocked and Two Smoking Barrells. This one happens to be named Hooligans, and is the work of Calgarian filmmaker Mike Scullion. Yet another feature film is Crazy Canuks, a documentary of the 1974 Canadian downhill Olympic champions, directed by Randy Bradshaw from Calgary. The features will be works by Canadian talent, and used to mainly expose them to the Canadian public, in hopes of showing what’s available at home, rather than overseas.

Many of the films will be screened in five theatres, four of which are across the street from one another. Highly enthused by the arrival of the annual festival, David Mirelli, festival director, is highly pleased to see the theatres in such close proximity to one another, and hopes audiences will enjoy the location, content, and thematic substance presented at the 2004 Calgary International Film Festival.

The opening night gala takes place on September 24, and tickets can be purchased at a variety of vendors, including The Bay downtown. Don’t plan on missing the eclectic film festival, as it is sure to astonish and unify audiences all across the vicinity of North America and perhaps beyond.

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