At the biggest film festival in Alberta, there's something for everyone. 

Taking over the Globe Cinema, Cineplex Eau Claire, and your at-home screens, there's always plenty of entertainment for the discerning movie buff at Alberta's biggest film festival.

With around 160 different short films and features to choose from it can seem daunting to try to pick out just a few, but here's a handy glossary list of our major section categories to get you started. 

The 21st Calgary International Film Festival takes place Sep. 24 - Oct. 4, 2020. Tickets are on sale now and our schedule and lineup will be released on September 8 - stay tuned! 

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Emerging Canadian Narrative Feature Competition

Ten films showcasing the land, legacy, people, and stories of our great country directed by Canada’s most promising future auteurs. Films in this section compete for the RBC Emerging Artist Award and a $10,000 juried prize. 

Films in this Section are also eligible for the CTV Audience Awards.  

DGC Canadian Documentary Competition 

The best in non-fiction cinema from behind the Canadian lens. From sea to sea to sea, this section features ten bold and inspiring films in competition for a $5000 juried prize. 

Films in this Section are also eligible for the CTV Audience Awards.  

International Narrative Competition (Outside Canada)

A captivating world of rich stories from beyond our borders. Ten vibrant and independent films with an emphasis on under-the-radar and cutting-edge style and story. Films in this section will compete for a $1000 juried cash prize. Note: All foreign language films are played with English subtitles.
 

Films in this Section are also eligible for the CTV Audience Awards. 

International Documentary Competition (Outside Canada) 

An uncensored view of the world showcasing gripping, entertaining, and enlightening stories from around the globe. This section features ten documentaries from all parts of the globe exploring politics, arts, nature, people, and history’s icons. Films in this section will compete for a $1000 juried cash prize.

Films in this Section are also eligible for the CTV Audience Awards. 

Special Presentations


The most anticipated, not-to-be-missed, most buzzed-about films of the festival circuit – from high-profile projects to celebrities and master directors. These films will pave the way for awards’ season, legendary status, and blockbuster domination. 

Films in this Section are also eligible for the CTV Audience Awards. 

Late Shift


The very best in genre film and things that go bump-in-the-night! Dark, twisted, outrageous, and downright daring late-night selections ranging from sci-fi to horror, thriller and fantasy from around the world. There’s no shortage of high-intensity suspense, shock, gore, and action. In this six-film section, there’s no such thing as overdoing it.

Films in this Section are also eligible for the CTV Audience Awards. 
Presented by Ship and Anchor.

Music on Screen


From the grassroots of rock n’ roll to hip-hop and folk, and everything in between, iconic musicians and their enduring masterpieces take the starring roles in this category.These six films celebrate the impact of music and musicians on our lives and that of generations.

Films in this Section are also eligible for the CTV Audience Awards.  

Generation Next


Headed into its third year, this Section empowers ten high school students to hand-pick films relevant to their generation. Featuring a diverse range of genres and stories from around the world, these six films reflect the state of indie art cinema curated through a youth perspective for audiences young and old.

Official Selection

A range of out-of-competition films from around the world in a bold mix of Canadian and International fare. These films range from local stories from our own backyard, to world premieres, award-winning titles hot off the festival circuit, to new discoveries for our audience.

Films in this Section are also eligible for the CTV Audience Awards.  

Short Films

Up to sixty short films carefully curated into a sampler package of themes that cover everything from animation, to animals, awkward situations, life-changing experiences, and more. This year's inspired collection of shorts is a testament to how big an impact just a few minutes of film can be. Films in this section will compete for a $1000 CAD category prize, and are eligible for a $2500 CAD grand jury prize and Academy Award® consideration.

Presented by Jerilyn Wright & Associates and MiniMax.
Films in this Section are also eligible for the CTV Audience Awards.  


Behind the Screen (BTS)

These interactive events are the best way to see how movie magic is made. From discussions with directors and actors, to peeks at the technology used on a film set and much more, it's an easy and entertaining way to learn more about the film and television industry.  This year’s program will feature a pre-festival Pub Quiz, free Lunchtime Filmmaker Chats, and moderated In Conversation sessions with the festival’s biggest names.

Presented by Calgary Economic Development.