12 films we’re excited to see at CIFF 2021

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for film lovers

By Krista Sylvester | September 22, 2021 |3:53 am

A still from the film ‘See you then’ airing at the festival.

Photo: Calgary International Film Festival // Submitted

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and I don’t mean Christmas — yet. 

The 22nd Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) starts tomorrow and that’s delightful news for local film lovers like myself who will be treated to a hybrid event this year of both in-theatre and streaming options. 

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Personally, this is an event I’ve never missed over the last dozen or so years and it’s a chance for me to catch some thought-provoking and thrilling films I might not normally get a chance to see. 

That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the top 12 movies I’m excited to catch this year — a tough feat since I could have easily made this a top 30 list. Here is my list of films I’m excited about and where they are from, in no particular order! 


South Korea – After a few months of social adjustment training, a North Korean refugee moves to a small studio in Seoul to start her new life. She needs money to bring her father to South Korea but no matter how hard she works, discrimination stops her from saving enough money. She gets a cleaning job at a boxing gym. Seeing young and confident female boxers, she feels something burning inside. 

See For Me – Canada – A young blind woman is house-sitting at a secluded mansion when she finds herself under invasion by thieves seeking a hidden safe. Her only means of defence is a new app called “See For Me.” It connects her to a volunteer across the country who helps her survive by seeing on her behalf. She is connected to an army veteran who spends her days playing first-person shooter games. 

Catch the Fair One 

United States – With raw energy and brute force, a champion boxer sets out to rescue her younger sister after she’s abducted by sex traffickers. Sparing no one and sacrificing everything, she will penetrate the depraved depths of organized crime to try and rescue the only person in the world she cares about.


Canada – In small-town British Columbia, an awkward teen has trouble fitting in. His offbeat father spends more time living in his own delusional world than paying attention to his son. 

Night Blooms 

Canada – In this ’90s set drama, a 17-year-old girl dreams of a different life. Looking to escape reality and her deadbeat mom through drugs and unrealistic fantasies of making it as a rock star, she spends most of her time at her best friend’s house. When her friend’s father re-enters her life, she bears witness to what a ‘good man’ is for the first time. 


Russia – A 13-year-old girl has grown up between the boxing ring and the streets of a provincial Russian town in the turbulent ’90s. Her closest friends are young gangsters who kill, rob and steal. They are loathed by the entire town, but in her eyes, they are the salt of the earth, the family that loves and protects her. When she realizes who the men around her truly are, she leaves her hometown for Moscow in an attempt to start a new life. 

Dear Future Children

Hong Kong – Rayan demands a new constitution in Chile, Pepper defends the fragile remains of democracy in Hong Kong and Hilda battles the devastating consequences of climate change in Uganda. These three inspiring young women face gruelling obstacles and grapple with the impacts of their activism on their personal lives and the lives of their families.

Last Tourist

Canada – Travel is at a tipping point. Tourists are unintentionally destroying the very things they have come to see. Overtourism has magnified its impact on the environment, wildlife, and vulnerable communities around the globe. Filmed in over 15 countries and guided by the world’s leading tourism and conservation visionaries. 


Canada –  This is the much-anticipated second feature by Calgary filmmakers, Scott Westby and Matt Watterworth  who’ve executed an off-beat crime comedy that’s a ton of fun to watch. 

See You Then

United States – A decade after abruptly breaking up with Naomi, Kris invites her to dinner to catch up on their complicated lives, relationships and Kris’ transition. Over the course of a one-night encounter, they engage in a series of increasingly intimate and vulnerable conversations before a shocking revelation is unveiled.

Run Woman Run

Canada – When a steady diet of donuts, pizza, cake and cigarettes lands a single mother in a diabetic coma, she receives a ghostly life coach in the form of a legendary marathon hero who helps her train for the run of her life. Taking place in Six Nations, Canada and with a powerful lead performance by Dakota Ray Hebert. 

Here and After

Canada – While out on a day pass from an in-patient treatment program, Ray meets Arora and agrees to spend the day with her when she makes the audacious claim that she can predict the outcome of their day. A fresh new take on a time-travel romance, by first-time feature director Shaun Crawford.

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Krista Sylvester

Reporter at Calgary Citizen

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