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This year’s CUFF.Docs Film Festival brings nostalgia and unique filmmaking to the forefront

The festival runs Nov. 22-26 at Globe Cinema

The CUFF.Docs festival runs Nov. 22-26 at Globe Cinema. // Submitted

The Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) is known for its edgy, eccentric, and diverse films and the organization’s documentary festival is no exception. 

The flagship festival just celebrated its 20th anniversary with its biggest lineup ever earlier this year and the CUFF.Docs 2023 Festival has also been growing in its own way. 

CUFF.Docs festival director Brenda Lieberman says the organization doesn’t box itself into a specific blueprint each year, instead allowing the festival to grow organically. For example, one year might bring more feature films, while another may bring more short films.  

“The attendance and intrigue are very much based on what topics, genres, or subject matter we’ve selected for the documentaries as documentaries can be much more personal,” Lieberman says. 

“This year we have selected more nostalgic films, films with unique filmmaking styles for the documentary format and some really eye-opening topics.” 

A diverse selection of docs

Some of those carefully curated films include Sorry, Not Sorry, an examination of Louis C.K.’s sexual misconduct during his long comedy career, and the CatVideoFest, a compilation reel of the best recent cat videos culled from countless hours of unique submissions. 

Lieberman says the popular all-ages-appropriate CatVideoFest is also a great way to support animal organizations with some of the proceeds going to the MEOW Foundation. 

CUFF lead programmer Cameron Macgowan says audiences will enjoy watching this year’s selection of films in the iconic Globe Cinema. 

“The elegant throw-back atmosphere of the Globe Cinema and its rich history as an important Calgary institution make it the perfect home for our festival,” he says. 

Affordable, accessible

One of the great things about this festival is the affordable price point for movie tickets with the standard ticket pricing of $10/$8 for members remaining consistent since 2010, something that is important to organizers. 

“We do not want ticket prices to be a barrier for people. We strive to keep our ticket prices low despite increased costs and a variety of pressures that could drive us to raise ticket prices,” Lieberman says. 

“This philosophy extends to our bar and concession pricing. We want to build a community around our screenings and remaining affordable is key to this.”  

Top picks

Macgowan is highlighting some picks this year including; Enter the Clones of Bruce Lee, a look at the film industry’s hunt to find a replacement for the actor after his untimely passing, and the festival’s opening night film It’s Only Life After All, which uses more than 40 hours of archival footage to chart the music duo’s unexpected rise to fame. 

Hello Dankness and Time Bomb Y2K are two very entertaining archival mixtapes. Queendom, Beyond Utopia, and Boil Alert focus on cutting-edge current events,” Macgowan adds. 

Calgary’s Nehiyaw performing artist Michelle Thrush is the executive producer of Boil Alert, which follows activist Layla Staats as she embarks on a dual journey to explore the Indigenous relationship to water as well as her identity struggles.

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