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The 2016 Calgary International Film Festival announced the First Wave of Films screening at the Festival. The first film announcement is all about music, including five films from CIFF’s Music On Screen series, as well as additional music-themed films.

From the grassroots of rock n’ roll, to hip hop, folk and everything in between: the 2016 Calgary International Film Festival showcases the best of movies where music plays the starring role.

The Music on Screen series is a long-standing tradition at CIFF, with films focusing on any and every genre of music, making it a fan favourite for Calgary audiences. Five films have been confirmed so far:

GARY NUMAN: ANDROID IN LA LA LAND – Directed by Rob Alexander and Steve Read

HIRED GUN – Directed by Fran Strine

SIDEMEN: LONG ROAD TO GLORY – Directed by Scott Rosenbaum

STRONGER THAN BULLETS – Directed by Matthew Milan

Muammar Gaddafi ruled Libya as a dictator for 42 years. During his reign, he forcibly censored Western influences, including the playing of music, and artists of all kinds were pushed underground. In February 2011, when the Arab Spring took hold in Libya, fighting filled the streets as citizens picked up weapons to stand against Gaddafi’s oppression, and some picked up an instrument. While violence ripped the country apart, music brought its people together.

STRONGER THAN BULLETS follows the lives of several Libyan musicians throughout the conflict: soldiers, preachers and ordinary citizens. They play music of all varieties, from folk to hip-hop to metal, representing the hope that sprung up anew in the country after Gaddafi’s death; freedom, however, is not so easily won. As the remnants of the old empire cling to power, the musicians find their very right to play threatened. Telling, at its heart, a relatable artistic story through the lens of one of the major Middle Eastern conflicts, STRONGER THAN BULLETS is director Matthew Millan’s second venture into the Libyan civil war, after WE WIN OR WE DIE.

THE AMERICAN EPIC SESSIONS – Directed by Bernard MacMahon

In a festival first, one of these films will be shown at the just-opened Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre. THE AMERICAN EPIC SESSIONS will screen at the Performance Hall at Studio Bell, on Wednesday, September 28 at 7 p.m.

Additional films will be confirmed for the Music On Screen series in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the Calgary International Film Festival also announced two more films that are music-themed, screening in other series this fall:

SONITA (Documentary Series) – Directed by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

GEEZER (New American Cinema Series) – Directed by Lee Kirk
Ten years into his band’s “indefinite hiatus”, Perry (Billie Joe Armstrong) is now a married father of two living a comfortable life in the suburbs. When his family forgets his 40th birthday, the aging punk-rocker-turned-family-man goes a bit off the rails and, in an effort to relive his glory days, rents a suite at a fancy New York hotel and throws himself a rock star birthday bash. Throughout the day Perry encounters crazy former bandmates and an ex-girlfriend who presents an opportunity to revive his stalled career, all while trying to stay on top of his family duties.

Featuring original music from Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong in his first leading role, the cast is rounded out with indie stars Selma Blair, Judy Greer, Chris Messina and Fred Armisen. GEEZER is a poignant dramedy about the clash between one’s punk rock past and middle-aged reality.

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