Calgary Underground Film Festival’s CUFF.Docs festival is back for its seventh edition. With the motto “Real Life. Worth Watching,” CUFF.Docs aims to showcase the best in non-fiction films.
In a recent press release, the festival stated CUFF.Docs, “Hopes to present a range of films that both confirm and challenge beliefs, promoting a sense of wonder and a healthy skepticism, and above all, that continue to advance the medium of documentary filmmaking.”
CUFF.Docs 2019 runs from November 27th to December 01st at Globe Cinema. The festival offers 12 full-length features, as well as shorts, varying in subject, style and genres within the art form.
CUFF.Docs Documentary Festival 2019 Line-up
THE AMAZING JOHNATHAN DOCUMENTARY
DIRECTOR: Benjamin Berman
PRODUCERS: Benjamin Berman, Russell
WEDNESDAY, NOV 27 // 7:00 PM
United States, 2019, 91 min
After Johnathan is diagnosed with a terminal heart condition and given one year to live, he’s forced to retire. Cut to three years later: Johnathan is not dead, much to everyone’s amazement, and documentarian Ben Berman films the illusionist on an epic comeback tour. But as the journey kicks off, Johnathan drops a bombshell that sends the film spiralling into uncertainty. Embracing this unforeseen obstacle, Ben delves deeper to determine what is truth and what is illusion. Built into the heart of this quick-witted and highly meta story is an indelible commentary on the process and ethics of making a documentary today. This debut feature is a wild ride that careens off the rails in highly entertaining and unexpected ways.
J.R. “BOB” DOBBS AND THE CHURCH OF THE SUBGENIUS
DIRECTOR: Sandy K. Boone
PRODUCERS: Michelle Randolph-Faires, Alyssa Spiller Sajovich, Jason Wehling, Suzanne Weinert
FEATURING: Richard Linklater, Nick Offerman, Penn Jillette, Harry S. Robins
SATURDAY, NOV 30 // 7:00 PM
United States, 2019, 85 min
The Church of the SubGenius has been called “the most aggressively preposterous theology the world has ever known!” But what is the Church? Filmmaker Sandy K. Boone explores the underground movement that has galvanized the imaginative, the artistic, the nerdy, even the deranged – to examine the simmering dystopia in their culture, and do absolutely nothing about it – except, maybe, poke fun at it all.
DIRECTORS & PRODUCERS: Hilla Medalia, Shosh Shlam
CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Shen Mi, Fan Jian
SUNDAY, DEC 1 // 2:15 PM
Israel, 2019, 85 min
Mandarin with English subtitles
‘Leftover Women’ is how the Chinese describe educated, cosmopolitan women who are not married and settled by the time they reach their mid-20s. Through marriage markets, matchmakers, and government-sponsored dating events, the film follows three hopeful singles who, under immense pressure, are determined to find love on their own terms. With extraordinary access, the film follows these remarkable women on their quest to find Mr. Right before society deems them Leftover.
DIRECTORS: Bettina Perut, Iván Osnovikoff
PRODUCER: Maite Alberdi
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Pablo Valdés
SATURDAY, NOV 30 // 1:45 PM
Chile / Germany, 2018, 78 min
Spanish with English subtitles
Los Reyes is the oldest skate park in Santiago and it brings together teenagers from different social and cultural backgrounds. This story is told through the eyes of Chola and Football, a couple of street dogs that live in the skatepark. The human world appears in stories of adolescents in transit to adulthood. We listen to their voices and see fragments of their bodies as part of the environment that surrounds the world of dogs. As Football grows old and Chola is left alone, the juvenile stories confront us with the rawness of a youth that does not find a place in our society.
MARKIE IN MILWAUKEE
DIRECTOR: Matt Kliegman
PRODUCERS: Matt Kliegman, Andrew Moynehan, Zachary Stuart-Pontier, Morgan Z Whirledge
SUNDAY, DEC 1 // 4:30 PM
United States, 2019, 91 min
The story of seven-foot tall, fundamentalist Baptist preacher Markie, who comes out as transgender at age 46. A decade later on the eve of sexual reassignment surgery she makes the sudden decision to abandon her female identity and de-transition back to male. Guilt, self-doubt and the pull of religious devotion, creates unexpected challenges and consequences when the transition becomes public to family and community. As she continues to struggle with her identity we are left to wonder about her decisions, and how one can accept themselves when those around them refuse to accept who they are. In a fly-on-the wall style, director Matt Kliegman carries viewers through the tumultuous and oft-times isolating experience of trans life in a small community.
MR TOILET: THE WORLD’S #2 MAN
DIRECTOR: Lily Zepeda
PRODUCERS: Lily Zepeda, Tchavdar Georgiev, Eugene Efuni
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Conrad Whelan, Jason Choo
FRIDAY, NOV 29 // 7:00 PM
United States, 2019, 88 min
English / Mandarin / Hindi with English subtitles
To a stranger, he’s a quirky Singaporean obsessed with toilets, but to those who know him he’s “Mr.Toilet,” a crusader in global sanitation. A former entrepreneur, Jack uses humor to campaign for something no one dares talk about: shit. It’s a crisis that impacts over 2 billion people. Having established UN World Toilet Day, Sim plunges into his biggest challenge yet when he is asked to help implement Prime Ministers Modi’s Promise of turning India into a defecation-free zone. But with few resources and no help from the government, Mr. Toilet discovers there is a price to pay for being the world’s #2 hero.
OUR TIME MACHINE
DIRECTORS & PRODUCERS: S. Leo Chiang, Yang Sun
ORIGINAL MUSIC: Paul Brill
SUNDAY, DEC 1 // 12:00 PM
China, 2019, 81 min
Mandarin with English subtitles
43-year-old Maleonn is one of China’s most influential conceptual artists today. When his father is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Maleonn pours everything into an ambitious new theatre project: “Papa’s Time Machine,” a visually stunning time-travel adventure told with human-sized puppets. The play includes autobiographical scenes inspired by Maleonn’s memories with his father, Ma Ke, also an acclaimed artist who was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. “Papa’s Time Machine,” shows signs of a promising future, but as Ma Ke’s condition deteriorates Maleonn is torn between the original goal to honour his father and the pressure towards commercial success. OUR TIME MACHINE is a touching story of a man using art to cope with ageing and loss.
QT8: THE FIRST EIGHT
DIRECTOR: Tara Wood
PRODUCERS: Tara Wood, Jake Zortman
SATURDAY, NOV 30 // 4:00 PM
United States, 2019, 103 min
Quentin Tarantino is the most influential filmmaker of the past 30 years. His bloody, talky, nonlinear films pull together dozens of influences to form bracingly original cinematic events. Tarantino’s films are the best kind of Hollywood tentpoles – wholly unique cinematic visions from a filmmaker at the peak of his powers. As Tarantino’s newest film ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD arrives to praise and controversy, filmmaker Tara Wood takes chronicles the first eight wildly divergent films that Tarantino has helmed, narrated by the actors and collaborators who have worked with him. From RESERVOIR DOGS through THE HATEFUL EIGHT, QT8 digs deep into the story of the most important and controversial filmmaker of our time.
SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
DIRECTORS: Roman Chimienti, Tyler Jensen
PRODUCERS: Mark Patton & Roman Chimienti
FRIDAY, NOV 29 // 9:30 PM
United States, 2019, 99 min
Campy and homoerotic, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2 has often been called the gayest horror film that Hollywood’s ever made. For Mark Patton, it was a true nightmare, as the homophobic backlash effectively ended his film career — and banished him into Garbo-like exile. SCREAM QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sets the records straight about the controversial sequel, which ended Mark Patton’s acting career, just as it was about to begin. This defiant documentary follows Patton as he travels to horror conventions across the U.S., and tells the triumphant tale of the “revenge of first male scream queens,” while also cautioning today’s LGBTQ community that the nightmare isn’t over.
THE SECRET MARATHON
DIRECTORS: Kate McKenzie, Scott Townend
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Martin Parnell, Kate McKenzie, Scott Townend
EDITOR: Scott Townend
SUNDAY, DEC 1 // 7:00 PM
Canada, 2019, 77 min
When the first Afghan woman stood up for her freedom and ran in the
Marathon of Afghanistan, she started a movement that spread around the
world. Zainab’s story inspired legendary Edmonton-based marathon runner,
Martin Parnell, to imagine what his life might be like if his gender prevented him
from running. Martin vowed to run in the Marathon of Afghanistan to support
Zainab, and partnered with Alberta filmmaker and first-time marathoner, Kate
McKenzie, to tell the story. Martin and Kate train and travel in secret to join
the Afghan women who are standing up for equality. This is the story of those
risking it all for the freedom to run, and the Albertans who participate in a
marathon to support them.
SKI BUM: THE WARREN MILLER STORY
DIRECTOR: Patrick Creadon
PRODUCERS: Joe Berry Jr., Jeff Conroy, Christine O’Malley
FEATURING: Warren Miller, Dan Egan, John Egan
THURSDAY, NOV 28 // 7:00 PM
United States, 2019, 93 min
SKI BUM: THE WARREN MILLER STORY chronicles the life and times of the legendary filmmaker who, through his annual ski films and national tours which began in the early 1950s, was a driving force in the development and promotion of the ski industry in America and throughout the world. Miller, who died last year at 93, sat months before his passing for his final interview. He reminisced about living off rabbit stew and sleeping in a teardrop trailer in his endless pursuit of the perfect ski run and he explained in great detail the challenges – both personal and professional – he faced over the course of his career. From the Award-winning team behind the documentaries WORDPLAY and IF YOU BUILD IT.
WHERE DOES A BODY END?
DIRECTOR: Marco Porsia
PRODUCERS: Marco Porsia, Rodney Ascher, Nick Rosendorf, Michael Wabro,
SATURDAY, NOV 30 // 9:30 PM
Canada, 2019, 124 min
An intimate portrait of the band SWANS, told with unprecedented access to the band as well as never before seen archive material and interviews documenting their 35-year career. From their roots as a brutal, confrontational post-punk band that emerged from the 1980s era NYC through their ill-fated bid at mainstream success in the ‘90s indie-rock goldrush, through breakups and chaos (on and offstage) to their odds-defying current status as one of the most accomplished and ambitious bands in the world. Director Marco Porsia embedded himself in the band’s tight inner circle for five years, filming rehearsals, songwriting sessions, the grind of life on the road, petty arguments and transcendent performances including their farewell tour.
WHERE IN THE HELL IS THE LAVENDER HOUSE: THE LONGMONT POTION CASTLE STORY
DIRECTORS: David Hall, Thomas Rotenberg
PRODUCERS: Longmont Potion Castle, Thomas Rotenberg, Mike Hickey, David
Hall, Vivek Venkatesh
THURSDAY, NOV 28 // 9:30 PM
Canada, 2019, 99 min
Two filmmakers attempt to make a documentary about an anonymous phone-work artist called Longmont Potion Castle who’s been releasing albums of surreal and hilarious pranks for over 30 years. In spite of a semi-successful crowdfunding campaign and the involvement of celebrity fans, the filmmakers succumb to their own infighting and bad luck leaving an unpaid camera operator to finish the film. This is the fully authorized and official story of the legendary anonymous prank-caller; a dude from Denver, Colorado who picked up the telephone in the ‘80s, hit record on his parents’ answering machine and dialed a number, which unknowingly launched the career of comedic persona non grata and touch-tone folk hero Longmont Potion Castle aka LPC.
The 7th edition of CUFF.Docs runs November 27th to December 1st, 2019, at Globe Cinema. For more information, click here.