Calgary Underground 2023: Festival Lineup Announced

Contributing Writer; Toronto, Canada (@triflic)
Calgary Underground 2023: Festival Lineup Announced

Over the past two decades, the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) has quietly become western Canada's largest showcase of genre programming.

Operating out of the upstairs/downstairs Globe repertory Cinema in the heart of Calgary, the festival fills a sweet spot in early spring (which alternates between between snow and sunshine in Cowtown) on the Canadian calendar, contrapositioned against Fantasia in the sweltering depths of Montreal's summer, the brisk autumn evenings of TIFF, and Blood in the Snow, set in the dark days of Canadian winter. 

CUFF just dropped their line-up for the 20th Edition of the festival, which runs April 20-30, and includes a rich, loamy, mixture of features (international and local), documentaries, retrospectives, live events, DJ sets, panels, and the annual "Saturday Morning Cartoon" party.

The Opening Night film is Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls, Andrew Bowser's horror comedy, featuring Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton.

Other announcement highlights include:

Matt Johnson's Blackberry, the story of the doomed Canadian company responsible for the world's first smart phone; with Jay Baruchel, Cary Elwes, Michael Ironside and Saul Rubenik.  

Polaris, a poetic and shaggy arctic Canada post-apocalyptic adventure with children and fangs (and yes, co-staring a real-not-CGI Polar Bear).

Slovakian folk-horror Nightsiren, from director Tereza Nvotová, takes place in a remote mountain village and features witchcraft, murder and family trauma. 

Influencer, a backpacking dark-thriller set in Thailand from director Kurtis David Harder (Spiral, V/H/S/94)

SISU, the nazi-exploding extravaganza of violence set in permafrost Lapland, from Finland's Jalmari Helander (Rare Exports, Big Game)

Mel Eslyn's single-set two hander, Biosphere, is the sharp and engaging comedy of denial and ecological apocalypse that Don't Look Up should have been. Two men (Mark Duplass and Stirling K. Brown) are slowly running out of food (and patience with each other) in the world's last survival dome. Both a bromance and a hang-out movie, it offers a unique spin on gender and the survival of the human race.

Mister Organ is the latest gonzo documentary from Kiwi news correspondent turned filmmaker, David Farrier (Tickled, Dark Tourist). It's a three-year investigation (read: rabbit hole) of Michael Organ, an eccentric man who illegally wheel-clamps cars at a local antique shop. The film is produced by fellow New Zealand film curator Ant Timpson (ABCs of Death, Come To Daddy, The Greasy Strangler).

Kelly Reichardt's latest, Showing Up, on a sculpture artist prepping a new gallery show, with Michelle Williams, Hong Chau, André Benjamin, and Judd Hirsch.

Little Richard: I Am Everything, features an eclectic series of interviews from Mick Jagger to John Waters to Tom Jones, talking about the one of a kind rock 'n' roll icon.

There is also a retrospective on the prolific, dangerous, genre-smashing Danish writer-director Anders Thomas Jensen, with screenings of Adam's Apples and The Green Butchers, and words with the director (virtually) with each screening. 

Joe Picket and Nick Pruher return in person for their Found Footage festival, a live show featuring the strangest in VHS yard-sale and esoterica (in the past from the Winnebego Man to the Flatulent Priest, to some of the strangest arts & crafts and astrology ladies in the USA).

From the industry side of things, there is a Film Distribution Panel featuring a number of folks we like around here, including Yellow Veil Pictures' Hugues Barbier, Raven Banner's Michael Paszt, Elevation Pictures' Olivia Nasner, Fantasia Festival's head of programming, Mitch Davis, James Shapiro, XYZ Films' head of US distribution, and Angie Power of PR firm Route 504. 

The rest of the lineup and tickets can be found on the CUFF Landing Page.


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