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Smuggling Hendrix
Smuggling Hendrix

The Calgary International Film Festival added twelve more films, some from as far away as India, Columbia and Sweden, others closer to home, including one from a Calgarian first-time feature director, to the 2018 lineup. 

In a film that will resonate with many festival-goers, Director Gillian McKercher paints a portrait of life working in an industry with looming layoffs in CIRCLE OF STEEL, all to an Albertan soundtrack. Other films with buzz to watch for include the winner of Tribeca Film Festival’s Best International Narrative Feature: SMUGGLING HENDRIX, directed by Marios Piperides, and BIRDS OF PASSAGE. Directed by Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego, this visual feast takes us into the heart of the drug trade in the Guajira desert.

“These films shine a light on those defining moments that set us on a new path,” said Stephen Schroeder, Executive Director of the Calgary International Film Festival. “Whether that moment is about moving past invisible borders, tangible walls or simply embracing different mindsets, the subjects in these films are all about to make that leap.”

AMATEURS directed by Gabriela Pichler

When the German low-cost superstore Superbilly considers opening shop in the small Swedish community of Lafors, the local government office makes a commercial to sell Lafors as the prime location. Aida and Dana, two high school kids, decide to turn their mobiles and selfie sticks toward everyone that isn’t allowed to take part in the commercial. A quirky narrative film, with subtitles.

BIRDS OF PASSAGE directed by Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego

This visually stunning narrative feature takes us to the origin of the drug trade in the Guajira desert of Colombia, from the perspective of the indigenous Wayuu population who end up trading their traditional farming for marijuana.

CIRCLE OF STEEL directed by Gillian McKercher

The first feature from Calgary director Gillan McKercher, this narrative feature is a satirical yet sympathetic portrait of life in the oil and gas industry. New engineer Wendy Fong works for an energy company with rumours of upcoming layoffs. Long days in the field and long nights alone begin to take their toll. Wendy navigates personal ethics and corporate interest, with an Albertan soundtrack and stunning visuals of the Western landscape.

CLARA directed by Akash Sherman

Isaac Bruno (Patrick J. Adams, SUITS, ROOM FOR RENT) is an astronomer obsessed with searching the cosmos for signs of life beyond Earth, despite the collapse of his personal life right in front of him. His relentless research of the night sky leads him into the path of an unqualified but confident amateur astronomer named Clara (played by Troian Bellisario, SUITS, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS). Working together, their effort ultimately leads them to a shocking and profound scientific discovery. This is Canadian director Akash Sherman’s second feature film.

GIANT LITTLE ONES directed by Keith Behrman

This Canadian feature tells the tale of two best friends since childhood. High school royalty, the boys are handsome, stars of the swim team and popular with girls. They live a perfect teenage life – until the night of Franky’s epic 17th birthday party, when Franky and Ballas are involved in an unexpected incident that changes their lives forever.

ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS directed by Gabrielle Brady

On a remote tropical island, forty million crabs migrate through a dense jungle and rocky shores to the freedom of the sea. Christmas Island is also a temporary home to refugees seeking passage to Australia but confined to a high security detention centre deep in the jungle. With a brilliant score, lush cinematography and keen attention to detail, this award winning documentary focuses on the detention centre’s trauma counselor as she and her young family navigate local mythologies that surround them.

MEGA TIME SQUAD directed by Tim Van Dammen

A small-town criminal finds an ancient Chinese time-travel device that can help him pull off a heist and start a new life – but he may not survive the consequences of tampering with time. This Late Shows feature is a study in high-meets-low, combining elements of the sci-fi, the crime thriller and the comedy to make a comedy heist film with a time-traveling twist.

ROOM LAUNDERING directed by Tomoo Ezaki

Shy and preferring to keep to herself, Miko has with the perfect job – a “room launderer.” When a previous tenant dies of unnatural cases, such as murder or suicide, the “room launderer” purifies it. This is done by staying on the property long enough to clear its manager from legal requirement to inform future tenants of the tragedy. Miko’s only problem is she can see and talk to the dead. This Japanese first feature blends quirky comedy and light-hearted drama.

SIR directed by Rohena Gera

Ratna works as domestic live-in help with Ashwin. Although Ashwin is wealthy, Ratna can sense that he he’s given up on his dreams and is somewhat lost. On the other hand, Ratna who seems to have nothing, is full of hope and works determinedly towards her dream. This narrative feature depicts the social structure in India and the restrictions that prevent people from following their dreams.

SMUGGLING HENDRIX directed by Marios Piperides

Yiannis, a fading musician, is planning to leave crisis-ridden Cyprus for a better life abroad. His plans are put on hold when his dog Jimi runs away and crosses the UN buffer zone that divides the “Greek” from the “Turkish” side of the island. Since animal exchange between the two “sides” is prohibited, Yiannis reluctantly joins forces with Hasan, a Turkish settler, and a cast of unexpected characters to smuggle his best friend back.

SOULS OF TOTALITY directed by Richard Raymond

Lady 18 and Guy 3 have a secret. They are members of a cult that believes if they die during a solar eclipse, their souls will be taken to paradise. But that’s not their secret. They are also profoundly in love. An American short film.

THE UNICORN directed by Robert Schwartzman

When an engaged couple, Caleb and Malory are forced to go to Palm Springs for a weekend to celebrate Malory’s parents’ 25th wedding vow renewal, they discover the secret to the parents’ happy marriage – threesomes. Horrified but intrigued, and determined to properly celebrate their own ‘re-engagement,’ they set out on a wild night in search of a threesome of their own.

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