We’re just three weeks away from the 16th annual Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF), and the festival has released its 2019 slate.
Amongst this year’s impressive titles are Claire Denis’ cerebral sci-fi drama High Life (starring Robert Pattinson), Alex Ross Perry’s punk rock redemption story Her Smell (featuring Elisabeth Moss), and Little Monsters, a zombie outbreak movie which stars Lupita Nyong’o.
This year’s festival runs April 22-28, 2019 at Globe Cinema.
Setting the tone for seven days of Western Canada’s biggest genre film festival, the 16th edition of CUFF will open with the Canadian Premiere of LITTLE MONSTERS, an Australian zombie horror rom-com, which will appeal to dedicated CUFF fans and new audiences alike. LITTLE MONSTERS is the story of a washed-up musician who teams up with a teacher (Academy Award Winner Lupita Nyong’o) and a kids’ show personality to protect young children from a sudden outbreak of zombies. The film from director Abe Forsythe premiered in the Midnight section of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. “Each year we love finding something fun and quirky for our opening night,” said Festival Director and Lead Programmer Brenda Lieberman. “LITTLE MONSTERS is really the perfect opener for us. It’s light, it’s fun, there’s a bit of gore, and it’s even better with an audience.”
With 30 features and 33 shorts, this is CUFF’s biggest festival yet. The lineup includes the highly anticipated HIGH LIFE from master French Director Claire Denis; Peter Strickland’s horror comedy IN FABRIC about a literal “killer dress”; and HER SMELL, directed by Alex Ross Perry, which stars Elisabeth Moss as a self-destructive ‘90s punk rocker.
Documentary highlights are HAIL SATAN? (Dir. Penny Lane), a chronicle of the extraordinary rise of The Satanic Temple, one of the most controversial religious movements; the heartbreaking Sundance award winner MIDNIGHT FAMILY (Dir. Luke Lorentzen) about private ambulance drivers in Mexico City; and DR. RUTH (Dir. Ryan White), a look at the incredible life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who became America’s most famous sex therapist.
“I always love seeing how our lineup comes together with the different films we see at various festivals, submissions, and the wide range of stories and genres that are out there,” said Lieberman. “The unique tastes of our programmers are always represented, and this year we have more films, more time slots and the highest number of guests in attendance. Whatever your style, CUFF has something for every film fan.”
Highlights of the 2019 festival:
- Two panels presented by Telus STORYHVE, including a script showcase of the upcoming home-grown Telefilm Talent to Watch project EVENTS TRANSPIRING BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER A HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL GAME. Local actors will participate in a live script read of the feature comedy from writer/director Ted Stenson, currently in development and shooting in Calgary this summer.
- The popular Found Footage Festival will return. This year Joe Pickett (The Onion) and Nick Prueher (The Colbert Report) are presenting two unique live shows: ”Vol. 9” and “After Dark,” their raunchiest, most unsettling, and patently misguided VHS finds from 25 years of collecting at thrift stores and garage sales around North America.
- CUFFtots: Daytime films for parents with young kids. A brand-new initiative, CUFF presents two films designed for parents and babies. The venue will be made accessible for strollers, and a change table and supplies will be provided. With the youngins in mind, lighting will be slightly raised and the sound lowered.
- For the 5th year, CUFFcade will launch five brand new custom arcade cabinets free of charge for play at the festival. This year’s CUFFcade features two games from Calgary video game developers: COVEN RUN by MADCAPACITY and NEON NOODLES by VIVID HELIX.
- THE SATURDAY MORNING ALLYOU-CAN-EAT-CEREAL CARTOON PARTY!, the most popular event of the festival, takes place on Saturday, April 27 at 10 am. As always, the 3-hour trip of retro cartoons will be accompanied by an all-you-can eat buffet of cereal, including gems so sugary that they can’t be purchased in Canada.
- National Canadian Film Day takes place on Wednesday, April 17 (the week before the festival). One of Canada’s flagship events, CUFF will participate in the national initiative with a free screening of the Canadian cult classic HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME on 16mm with cast member Lisa Langlois in attendance.
Films with local connections:
HARPOON: Shot and produced in Calgary, HARPOON comes to CUFF after its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. A wickedly humorous and bloody deconstruction story about three best friends who find themselves stranded on a yacht in the middle of the ocean under suspicious circumstances.
WHO LET THE DOGS OUT: Calgarian and CUFF alumnus Brent Hodge’s (FREAKS & GEEKS: THE DOCUMENTARY, Winner of CUFF’s 2018 Audience Award Best Documentary) latest film follows Ben Sisto on his popular live talks across the world that explain the complex story of the Baha Men’s hit song and its true origins.
FOOSBALLERS: Featuring an appearance by Calgary’s Linda Ly, the heartwarming documentary chronicles the lives of professional foosball players. Joe Heslinga and foosball world champion competitor.
RED LETTER DAY: The debut feature from local filmmaker Cameron Macgowan (LIEBE (LOVE) and the 2016 CUFF selection LUXURE) is a satirical horror/thriller that asks the age-old question: Just how well do you know your neighbours? Director Cameron Macgowan and local cast and crew will be in attendance.
SHORTS The short films I SWALLOW YOUR SECRETS (Dir. Matt Prazak), MEGA CRIMES UNIT (Dir. Darren Harmon) and KILL ‘EM WITH KINDNESS (Dir. JDRL) are all Calgary productions.
About the Calgary Underground Film Festival
Elevating Calgary’s cultural landscape with the best in international independent cinema, the 16th Calgary Underground Film Festival runs April 22-28 at Globe Cinema. Throughout the 7-day festival you will discover unique films, lively Q&A’s with visiting guests, and be swept into the fun atmosphere CUFF has created. The biggest films on the festival circuit, our annual retro all-you-can-eat cereal party, late night movies, parties, custom arcade cabinets, DJs before every film, a full bar, it’s a film festival unlike any other. Tickets & more info at calgaryundergroundfilm.com.