The Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) is a held annually in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Like other Canadian film festivals, it sees itself more as a celebration of film, than an industry event. Calgary is perhaps best known as hosting the 1988 Winter Olympics, but it also has an energetic cultural scene. Areas such as Forest Lawn are very diverse, and the district has many ethnic stores and restaurants. Calgary was designated as one of the cultural capitals of Canada in 2012 and CIFF is now a vital part of the cultural framework of the city. It has become a prestigious event in Calgary’s social diary and, in return, the vitality and variety of Calgary are an integral part of the exciting milieu of the festival
CIFF is a celebration of new ideas and energy in the art of film and filmmaking. The festival began in 2000 and was initially held across 6 days, with 8000 visitors.
The 2014 edition of CIFF ran for 11 days in September and attracted 30,000 movie fans. The festival screened approximately 200 films – including features, shorts and documentaries. It is now the largest film festival between the Rockies and the Great Lakes and known as a festival that is well worth the entry fee. The International Film Festival showcases multi-genre films, from across the globe, as well as hosting events, awards and presentations, elevating the city’s cultural landscape with the best in local and international cinema.
The festival also offers experiential learning activities for festival visitors, promoting cinema’s role in developing thought, ideas and reflection. This idea of film-as-learning is fundamental to the CIFF philosophy – where films are visual stories that are both shared and experienced. Naturally, following on from this is the desire to hear the new voices in cinema, for audiences to discover new filmmakers alongside established names. CIFF acts as a guide to help audiences discover new and compelling stories, in a lively festival environment, in particular those from home-grown Alberta talent.
CIFF’s cinematic offerings are organized in simple categories, including Canadian, American and World Cinema, Documentaries, Late Shows and Shorts. Perhaps, one of the most popular features of CIFF, are films that are running for the Academy Awards. In 2014, films included Foxcatcher, Whiplash, Mommy and Force Majeure (Turist).
Outside of the main festival, CIFF holds Doc Soup, working with Toronto’s Hot Docs Festival. It shows award-winning and critically acclaimed documentary films.
Every year the festival presents a series of awards selected by both Juries and Audiences. Winners in 2014 included:
- Discovery Award Best First Narrative Feature: When the Ocean Met the Sky.
- Discovery Award Best First Documentary Feature: Queens & Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo.
- Audience Choice Narrative: Whiplash.
- Audience Choice Documentary: Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story.
- Best Animated Short: Yearbook.
- Best Live-Action or Documentary Short: The Old Trout Puppet
- Workshop: From Naughty to Nice.