Sisters with Transistors
Sisters with Transistors

From the world-famous Foo Fighters, to Norwegian pop stars, and electronic music’s female pioneers, the Calgary International Film Festival’s Music on Screen films are as diverse as ever. From September 23 to October 3, 2021, the 22nd Annual Festival will connect its audience through the universal language of music.

“This year’s Music on Screen series has an incredible range of stories. I’m so looking forward to CIFF audiences immersing themselves in this stellar crop of music-themed films,” said Guy Lavallee, Features Programmer.

2021 Calgary International Film Festival’s Music on Screen Lineup

Directed by Aslaug Holm

In the 80’s, a-ha conquered the world with their massive hit, “Take On Me”. Now, for the first time, Morten, Pål and Magne tell the story of the band, and of the fame that nearly tore them apart.

Directed by Anna Hildur Hildibrandsdottir

Hatari is the boundary-pushing, activist, BDSM techno band which, against all odds, ended up representing Iceland at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv. Not content to let this massive opportunity go to waste, the band defied the rules of the European Broadcasting Union (which organizes the show and insists on it being a “non-political” event), using this platform to force viewers into thinking and talking about Palestine.

Directed by Anita Rivaroli

All Foo Fighters super-fan Fabio Zaffagnini ever wanted was for his favourite band to put on a concert in his hometown of Cesena, Italy. But how do you convince the world’s biggest rock band to play a town they’ve likely never even heard of? You gather 1000 musicians from all over Italy; you teach them to play “Learn to Fly” – in unison, mind you; you post the video to YouTube, you hope for the best! WE ARE THE THOUSAND’s ode to the power of LIVE music is exactly the tonic we need right now.

Directed by Matthew Walker

I’M WANITA is the raucous true story of the most incredible country music vocalist you’ve never heard of, as she’s presented with one last shot at achieving her lifelong quest for stardom. Brandishing a truly stunning, achingly authentic voice, Australia’s self-described ‘Queen Of Honky Tonk’ has partied too hard, estranged herself from nearly everyone around her, and burned every bridge she ever crossed. And though she’s come precariously close to breaking big on more than one occasion, I’M WANITA asks the question: is it the fickle forces of the music industry that have stood in her way, or is it Wanita herself?

Directed by Lisa Rovner

SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS is the remarkable untold story of electronic music’s female pioneers, composers who embraced machines and their liberating technologies, to utterly transform how we produce and listen to music today. With the wider social, political and cultural context of the 20th century as its backdrop, this fascinating, completely archival documentary reveals a unique emancipation struggle, restoring the central role of women in the history of music and society at large.

Directed by Chris Gero

During this critical time in world and U.S. history, music is the great, universal language that unites us all. Filmed across five countries, in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic (!), this beautiful, groundbreaking, and incredibly moving film helps define the magic of music, in an epic celebration of hope, humanity and unity.

Featuring interviews and powerful, soul-baring performances by artists such as Ben Folds, Sarah McLachlan, Avery*Sunshine, Patti Smith, Sekou Andrews and many more, THE SOUND OF US vividly illustrates how music can heal us, gives us hope for the future, shed light on current struggles, and keep us coming back to the one thing that truly unites us all – music.

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