Posted on September 21, 2020

Katie Wackett, Programming and Communications director at Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF), shares her Top 5 picks for CIFF 2020!


Attending CIFF every September is a beloved annual ritual, so it will be strange to experience the festival from home this year. As a film programmer and cinephile, the best part of CIFF is chatting with film pals- connecting with friends, directors, and other film lovers over cinema. For my picks, I chose to focus on films that I can’t wait to discuss, regardless of distance. I’m really excited for lots of documentaries at this year’s fest, it was so hard to narrow down my list! 

There’s so much prime cinema to see, if you are at home or in-person! I hope my picks encourage you to check out the rest of the lineup, and support the fest by watching lots of films. 



I’m so looking forward to this Hot Docs selection directed by Lulu Wei. The film centers on Honest Ed’s - a now-closed discount store in Toronto at Bloor and Bathurst which had a massive social impact, especially to BIPOC and immigrant communities. I lived in this area in Toronto, and the beloved significance of this place was evident even to someone like me who was a stranger to the city. I’m interested to see how Honest Ed’s demonstrates issues of gentrification, and glad this story is being told by a queer, Toronto-based, POC filmmaker like Lulu Wei. I’m stoked to see the archival footage of Toronto as well! 

 THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE THIS PLACE, ANYPLACE is available to stream online, and screens September 26, 2:00 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire



A 16mm black & white film with Tilda Swinton narration, brutalist architecture, directed and composed by Jóhann Jóhannsson, and experimental Kubrick vibes- what more could you ask for? The year of 2020 seems a eerily fitting time to watch this film alone, late at night, and consider the implications of humanity’s future on this planet. 

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


I know I’m cheating a bit to choose a shorts package, but every film fest fan knows shorts are where it's at! I can’t wait to devour all of the shorts packages (LATE SHIFT and LUV & LOL in particular!), but there’s always something so special about seeing films made in Alberta. I’m lucky enough to know a few of the filmmakers through my work at CSIF, and I will never be able to get over how fricken COOL it is to watch films that your pals have made. Keep an eye out for Kaytlyn Turner’s short THE MOTHER- such luscious visuals and a talented filmmaker to watch. 

SHORTS PACKAGE: ALBERTA SPIRIT is available to stream online, and screens September 26, 7:00 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire.



Restored from the original camera negative, the shimmering new 4k version of this legendary 1959 film looks absolutely brilliant. Shot in colour by famed fashion photographer Bert Stern, this film is special for its composition - both musical and cinematic. The filmmakers are keenly aware of the rhythmic qualities of their camerawork, using close-ups and editing to enhance the live musical performances in a distinctly filmic way. Can’t wait to revisit this film! 

JAZZ ON A SUMMER'S DAY (1959) 4K is available to stream online, and screens September 26, 3:00 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire.



I love the meditative style of Jia Zhangke, and I’ve been looking forward to this film since it premiered in Berlin. Zhangke has such a lovely way of blending the contemporary with the historic, deployed here to explore changes in Chinese culture post-1950s. I look forward to getting lost in the poetic language of the film’s featured writers, along with the beautiful environments from rural China.

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

Tickets for these and all our films are on sale now! Explore the guide and schedule here. 


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