Now in its 24th year, the 11-day Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) has grown to be the biggest film festival in Alberta. CIFF showcases 200+ short and feature-length multi-genre films from Canada and around the world.
With Academy Award® accreditation and juried cash prizes, CIFF is a world-class celebration of cinema’s best and brightest.
2023 FESTIVAL JURY AWARD WINNERS
$10,000 CAD RBC Emerging Canadian Artist
HUMANIST VAMPIRE SEEKING CONSENTING SUICIDAL PERSON | Dir. Ariane Louis-Seize
This juried award is given to the Canadian director who creates the best first or second narrative feature film. Presented by RBC.
"Singular vision and strong performances. The mixture of comedy, drama and horror genres was handled with an impressive skill set by this exciting emerging filmmaker! We were drawn into her world and characters both emotionally and cinematically and were excited by the world that she created."
RBC Emerging Canadian Artist Award: Special Jury Mention
HEY, VIKTOR! : "HEY, VIKTOR! is a hilarious journey with a loveable and detestable lead in a mockumentary that both celebrates and takes a piss at an iconic indigenous film."
RBC Emerging Canadian Artist Award: Special Jury Mention
ASOG: "ASOG is a unique film that incorporates documentary elements and follows an electric, empathetic and hilarious lead was such a unique pleasure to watch."
$5,000 CAD Air Canada Canadian Narrative Feature
SUZE | Dirs. Linsey Stewart & Dane Clark
This juried award is given to the Canadian director who creates the best narrative feature film in the section. Presented by Air Canada.
"The well-drawn characters and relationships were such a pleasure to watch unfold. Its exploration of generations was both sympathetic and hilariously accurate. The unexpected arches and relationships were exciting to watch. We enjoyed the journey of the family dynamics with both its humour and heart arch."
Canadian Narrative Competition: Jury Prize for Lead Performance
RICHELIEU, Ariane Castellanos: "Her performance was steely and empathetic while exuding an inner strength. In almost every frame of the film, she balances her own demons while trying to manage both her job and the lives of migrant workers. It was a brilliant performance and a pleasure to watch."
Canadian Narrative Competition: Jury Prize for Supporting Performance
SUZE, Charlie Gillespie: "Charlie Gillespie is a charming and lovable slacker who, through the journey of film, surprises you with his gravitas and emotional depth."
$1,000 CAD International Narrative Feature
ANIMALIA | Dir. Sofia Alaoui
This juried award is given to the international director who creates the best narrative cinema from around the globe (U.S. & International).
"This film draws you in with an urgency of storytelling and riveting imagery. The blending of the spiritual and the otherworldly is at once gripping and nuanced. Its commentary on social class and women's place in society, combined with beautiful cinematography, impressive world-building, and visceral and organic visual effects, creates a stunning first feature that demands attention."
International Narrative Feature Award: Special Jury Mention for Performance
CLOSE TO YOU, Elliot Page
International Narrative Feature Award: Special Jury Mention for Director
20,000 SPECIES OF BEES, Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren
$5,000 CAD DGC Canadian Documentary Feature
SWAN SONG | Dir. Chelsea McMullan
This juried award is given to the Canadian director who creates the best documentary in the section. Presented by Directors Guild of Canada.
"This is a truly impressive performance doc that moved away from traditional tropes with a cinema verite approach of fantastic characters. The filmmaker’s inspired choices make it a documentary for today and tomorrow."
DGC Canadian Documentary Feature Award: Special Jury Mention
SUMMER QAMP: "A touching and brave film full of affirmation and love."
$1,000 CAD International Documentary Feature
BETWEEN THE RAINS | Dirs. Moses Thuranira & Andrew H. Brown
This juried award is given to the international director who creates the most compelling non-fiction cinema from around the globe (U.S. & International).
"Between the Rains offers a compelling coming-of-age story against the backdrop of a microcosm of climate change. The film creates a juxtaposition between the stunning beauty of Kenyan landscapes and the raw realities of the local communities' traditional lifestyles. Between the Rains is an immersive verité experience that the audience will never forget."
International Documentary Feature Award: Special Jury Mention
GREAT PHOTO, LOVELY LIFE: "The word brave is thrown around a lot in the documentary world, but this film is without a doubt one of the bravest displays ever captured in a film. Amanda not only opens up about the lives in her family but does it without flinching, and when it gets difficult, she leans in. Masterfully made, bouncing from heartbreaking personal pieces to tense thriller-type scenes, this film was immensely gripping. I can't imagine seeing a better personal portrait documentary this year."
Shorts in Competition
$2,500 CAD Short Film Grand Jury Prize
PALM SUNDAY| Dir. Wes Andre Goodrich
This juried award is given to the best overall short film at the festival and also qualifies the winner for consideration in the appropriate category of the Academy Awards®, without the standard theatrical run that a film typically needs to qualify for an Oscar® nomination.
"Palm Sunday is a poignant story of faith and the personal struggle to find a place within your community, set in the wake of the black civil rights movement. Jimmy, the story protagonist, finds himself burdened with finding acceptance and purpose in a life filled with racial inequalities. Wes Andre Goodrich depicts a historic event and, in it, draws similarities to the racism and cultural barriers of oppression that are still present in our institutions and society today. The jury agreed that the strong performances, powerful visuals and emotive storyline made this student film stand out. After careful deliberation, the jury selects Palm Sunday as the Grand Jury Shorts winner."
$1,000 CAD Live Action Short Film
DEATH TO THE BIKINI! | Dir. Justine Gauthier
International competition for Live-Action narrative films under 40 minutes.
"For effectively exploring the beautifully complicated process of growing up, led by an unbelievably assured performance from the young scene-stealer Mia Garnier. Death to the Bikini tackles a plethora of topical themes in its easy rewatchability, exemplifying a refreshing take on childhood friendships, empathetic parenting, and female coming of age, capped off by a triumphant final moment that will leave you ready to annihilate the norm."
$1,000 CAD Animated Short Film
BOAT PEOPLE | Dirs. Thao Lam & Kjell Boersma
International competition for Animated films under 40 minutes.
"With the use of allegory, Boat People depicts a comprehension of a community’s resiliency and sacrifice necessary for survival while at the same time not undermining the perplexity of a child’s relationship with their own parents. We applaud Boat People for its message of understanding without resentment as a way to create a safer future."
$1,000 CAD Documentary Short Film
THE LAST REPAIR SHOP | Dirs. Ben Proudfoot & Kris Bowers
International competition for Documentary films under 40 minutes.
"Glue, oil, and soldering slowly piece back together the instruments of the Los Angeles youth music programs - But it’s the vulnerability, humanity, empowerment, and heart that the invisible artists of The Last Repair Shop share that have created a life-changing ripple effect through the lives of these talented young musicians and themselves. This masterfully crafted film will have you humming its magical and uplifting original score, all while looking deeper within yourself at how you too can help to contribute to the community and culture."
$1,000 CAD NBCUniversal Alberta Short Film Devon Bolton Memorial Award + $10,000 Gift Card from William F. White International, Inc. toward the winner's next project
MONSTR | Dir. Tank Standing Buffalo
Provincial competition for films under 40 minutes.
"A haunting horror story of a character alone in the woods fighting against the demons of their past. MONSTR masterfully intertwines First Nation mythology with personal experience to create a poignant narrative of self-reflection. The jury applauds director Xstine Cook and Tank Standing Buffalo for their profound message of discovery through art, connecting with nature, and human perseverance."
Alberta Short Film Devon Bolton Memorial Award: Special Jury Mention
CONVICTION: "Conviction gives a harrowing insight into the barriers and restrictions that remain in place long after the release of incarcerated people. Through the stunning and authentic performance of Shane Ghostkeeper and the supporting cast, the human connection between characters in this film ushered the jury into a world in which they may not otherwise have understood. This informative piece leaves a lasting impact that can help in breaking down systemic stigmas and forming better support systems for those being reintegrated into their communities."
$1,000 CAD Student Short Film
SIMONE | Dir. Aisha Amin
Post-Secondary Student competition for films under 40 minutes.
“Simone embodies the art of saying more with less. This impactful narrative unfolds quietly yet successfully. Simone leaves you wanting more and showcases a refreshing vulnerability on screen. You find yourself connected with the lead protagonist and all her quick decision-making as a young mother navigating life and its challenges.”
$1,000 CAD NBCUniversal Youth by Youth Canada Short Film + up to $18,000 scholarship to Vancouver Film School + $2,500 Gift Card from William F. White International, Inc. toward the winner's next project
OPERATION CARL | Dir. Sandra Hurd
High-school or under-18 student competition for films under 30 minutes.
"This film is such a fun ride from start to finish. The characters are all well drawn, and their opposing views on the situation at hand and how to handle it lead to excellent comedic conflict. The concept could have the danger of veering into sketch comedy, but the way the filmmakers have constructed the story makes for a complete beginning, middle and end that’s super satisfying. Lastly, as a comedy, you have to make people laugh, and I laughed out loud many times throughout the course of this film. The coverage and shot choices all worked well to tell the story, coupled with smart blocking and the brilliantly committed performances of the actors, it all comes together for a really delightful film."
Youth by Youth Canada Short Film Special Jury Mention for Cinematography
ONLY YOU: "What a wonderfully strange and affecting film. Very poetic, but with the use of the Homer dolls, it never veers into pretentious territory. What really stood out for me, though, was the excellent cinematography. The shots were all well composed, with a clear care for each frame. This filmmaker obviously has a keen eye and a talent for using the camera to bolster the story."
VIDEO GAMES & VR
BARCODE XR Award for Oustanding Experience
A HIGHLAND SONG | Inkle Ltd
"An artistic achievement that is approachable to gamers and non-gamers with beautiful music and visuals."
2023 CIFF AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARDS - PRESENTED BY TELUS
The best of the fest as decided by the fans themselves! Most films at the festival are eligible for our Audience Awards and are based on the collective score of the audience ballots collected at each screening online and in-cinema.
Audience Choice Award Alberta Feature
Audience Choice Award Canadian Narrative Feature
Audience Choice Award Canadian Documentary Feature
Audience Choice Award International Narrative Feature
Audience Choice Award International Documentary Feature
Audience Choice Award Late Shift
Audience Choice Award Generation Next
Audience Choice Award Music on Screen
Audience Choice Award Special Presentations
Audience Choice Award Alberta Short
Audience Choice Award Narrative Short
Audience Choice Award Animated Short
Audience Choice Award Documentary Short
Top 10 Narrative Features:
CIFF’s Top 10 Documentary Features:
Top 10 Short Films:
Alberta Short Film Devon Bolton Memorial Award
Devon Bolton, along with his filmmaking and business partner sibling Kirsten, won Best Alberta Short at CIFF 15 years ago this year for their short film Shipwrecked. After CIFF, Shipwrecked would go on to be an official selection at over 25 international film festivals around the world, winning Best Short at five, including a BAFTA. It was also screened at MOMA in New York and The National Gallery in Washington D.C.
The siblings went on to another award-winning short and were in development on four feature films in addition to their careers in commercials, videos, and branding. Devon was a self-taught filmmaker, respected creative marketing lead, and director who was also skilled in cinematography, editing, visual effects, and colour grading. He was known and admired by colleagues, crew, and partners as a visionary talent and would often attract the same crews, agencies, and clients to work with him time and again. He was also known, however, to give newcomers some of their first opportunities in the industry – from actors to composers to animators. He loved to mentor.
In December 2019, after a long battle with mental health issues, Devon took his own life at the age of 47. It caught many by surprise. This award is being founded in his honour to help motivate local filmmakers to continue to pursue their dreams, shine a light on mental health in the creative communities, and celebrate the importance of mentorship.