Posted on September 21, 2020

Born and raised in Calgary, Mike Hooves and Bryce Maruk are prairie queers that met while working at neighbouring arts nonprofits, and have since developed a long term creative and personal relationship. Check out their Top 5 CIFF picks, perfect for a night out (or in!) with your love.


Mike Hooves is an illustrator, drag performer, and multidisciplinary artist. They are the artist behind a new take on John Waters’ cult classic, POLYESTER, as part of CIFF’s 2020 Poster Show. Their work as a filmmaker and animator has been screened globally, and Mike is finding their feet in visual art locally.

Bryce Maruk is a multimedia creative at one of Calgary’s leading non-profit institutions. Her contributions to film have screened at festivals such as Hot Docs, BFI Flare, and Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival. She has also performed at Sled Island Music & Arts Festival as a musician and media artist. 


Mike + Bryce: Our love for watching films in-theatre has been put on hold due to this little on-going thing known as a worldwide pandemic. Thankfully, the Calgary International Film Festival has provided the ability to stream 150+ contending films directly to your home. For our Top 5, we have picked festival films we feel are tailor-made for our homebody, couch-bound experience.


Mike: This film is so tightly packed with local talent, it makes me wish I was there to see it all! Oh wait, I was! I was lucky enough to be a PA, and experienced firsthand Ted Stenson’s feature film debut unfold before my eyes. How will all the shenanigans caught-on-camera unfold? Why is Andrew Phung obsessed with triangles? Can the smell of old locker room permeate the screen? 

Bryce: We’ll only know if we watch!

EVENTS TRANSPIRING is available to stream online, and screens September 26, 8:00 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire (SOLD OUT, rush line in effect) and October 2, 5:30 p.m. at Globe Cinema (SOLD OUT, rush line in effect.)



Bryce: This is the debut feature from late Icelandic composer, Jóhan Jóhannsson. Although I’m relatively new to his compositions outside of film, his previous scores for Canadian director Denis Villeneuve have had an undeniable influence on the sound of mainstream film today. Filmed before his tragic and untimely death, this directorial debut promises to be a wrought journey through his own vision of the avant-garde.

Mike: And if that’s not enough, it’s narrated by faye queen Tilda Swinton. Swoon.

 LAST AND FIRST MEN is available to stream online, and screens September 25, 5:30 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire. 



Mike: Everybody loves a sexual awakening story, and this one begins with small-town Mary starting hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The richly-coloured visuals are tantalizing, but more than that I am attracted to the experiences of a middle-aged, menopausal woman being featured on-screen. The cherry on top being that we see her experiences as a sexual being! I think Bryce can tell you….

Bryce: ...That HRT is one hell of a drug!

MARYGOROUND is available to stream online, and screens September 27, 12:00 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire, and October 2, 6:15 p.m. at Globe Cinema.



Bryce: The films of Jia Zhangke often blur the lines between fiction and documentary, and regularly highlight avenues of life in mainland China that may otherwise go undocumented. Since graduating from university, attending screenings of his films has become the unlikely bridge that connects two of my best friends from different eras in my life. 

Mike: Did somebody say socially-distant viewing party?

SWIMMING OUT UNTIL THE SEA TURNS BLUE is available to stream online, and screens September 27, 1:00 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire.



Bryce: Horror films make for some of the best date picks, and this, the long-awaited sophomore film from Brandon Cronenberg is one that I am especially excited for. So long as we watch it together, we’ll always have someone to hold when the film gets too intense. 

Mike: That’s cute, but Bryce is the real scaredy-cat here. A little body horror won’t freak me out (too much). Hide all you want from the big bad movie — I’ll be here for you.

POSSESSOR screens September 26, 9:30 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire (SOLD OUT, rush line in effect), and October 3, 9:30 p.m. at Globe Cinema (SOLD OUT, rush line in effect.)
Tickets for these and all our films are on sale now! Explore the guide and schedule here. 
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