Calgary Underground Film Festival welcomes audiences back to doc festival

A Calgary-made documentary is kicking off the festival Wednesday

By Krista Sylvester | November 22, 2021 |9:00 pm

The Calgary Underground Film Festival's (CUFF) Documentary Festival is kicking off tomorrow with local filmmaker Dominique Keller's Love: The Last Chapter.

Photo: Submitted

Things are starting to return to normal for the theatre and film world. 

That’s good news for the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) Docs 2021 film fest, which is returning to its first in-person festival in two years. 

Film festivals are meant to be enjoyed in-person and organizers are excited to be able to offer a hybrid model this year where people can choose to watch most films either online or at the Globe Cinema, says festival director and lead programmer Brenda Lieberman.

“It’s exciting to be able to activate volunteers again and see them and our staff together back again while welcoming audiences back to the cinema,” she says, adding there were some concerns during the planning phase. 

“When we were planning it, we just weren’t sure how things were going to go until we got through that fourth wave hump. With everything the last two years, you just never know.”

A hybrid model that offers something for everyone 

Luckily, things have settled down and audience members will be able to attend the four-day festival in person if they choose, though attendance will be capped at 50 per cent capacity. 

“There’s definitely people that are looking forward to watching things in the cinema once again, and talking about the films with other people they are experiencing it with distraction-free on a big screen,” Lieberman adds.  

The ninth annual event launches tomorrow, premiering with Calgary filmmaker Dominique Keller’s intimate look at love later in life with Love: The Last Chapter. 

“I believe that it is important to tell late-in-life stories because older adults are often either absent from popular media or only appear in small stereotypical roles such as the ‘cute, helpless old lady’ or the ‘grumpy old man,’” she says of her film. 

“It is imperative that we tell stories that more accurately reflect older people’s lives, diverse interests and backgrounds.”

Digging a little deeper behind the scenes 

Keller says she discovered a lot about the city as she captured this story — including her neighbourhood, Ramsay. 

“I learned that there are a lot of people who know a lot about Calgary and Calgary’s history who are living in seniors’ residences around the city,” she explains, adding she met a 90-year-old senior named Nellie who helped her connect with her community’s roots. 

“It was difficult for me to imagine the people who first occupied my house until I met Nellie at the senior’s residence. Meeting Nellie helped me to understand the deep history of my neighbourhood and to appreciate all the people who lived in Ramsay before me.” 

But that’s not all 

Leiberman says the film selection this year is broad and still has that edge CUFF is known for. 

That means there will be quirky, there will be love, there will be the unusual, there will be horror — there will be something for everyone. 

“I always love the diversity of the films, subjects and themes explored in the various documentaries we program, and this lineup has so many incredible films to see,” she says. 

“Our team of programmers really uncovered some amazing gems, and there is definitely something for everyone in the lineup,” said Lieberman.

CUFF.Docs will take place from Nov. 24 to 28 at Globe Cinema and all films will be online as well with the exception of two. View the full schedule

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Krista Sylvester

Managing Editor at Calgary Citizen

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