The Lebanese Burger Mafia
The Lebanese Burger Mafia directed by Omar Mouallem

Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) 2023 celebrates local film talent with the Alberta Spotlight films that include narrative and documentary features. Also returning to CIFF is another popular section, Music on Screen, and the return of Calgary musician Chad VanGaalen, performing a live score to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

“This year’s spotlight of Alberta content showcases one of the most diverse programs we have yet to display for what our locals are creating. We have a variety of World premieres from several first time feature directors, whose previous experiences lie in shorts or acting, and who are now making a shift into directing,” said Brenda Lieberman, CIFF Lead Programmer.

“We are also showcasing a variety of formats and genres, from documentary to dance, indigenous stories, web series, horror, thrillers, and a local period piece. All of these films showcase the talent and creativity of our local industry in varying levels of their careers, which is really exciting.”

The 2023 Calgary International Film Festival runs from September 21 – October 1, 2023.


A portrait of a young Siksika woman as she prepares for one of the most dangerous horse races in the world. Alberta Premiere.

DROP, Directed by Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi (Canada)
Aging out of his art form, a contemporary dancer with a shady past is forced to deal with an unknown future. World Premiere.

FAULTLINE, Directed by Anna Cooley (Canada)
Two sisters’ lives are shattered when their mother’s troubled life leads her to perpetrate a murder before killing herself. Twenty years later, they forge a dangerous path to expose the truth. World Premiere.

HAILEY ROSE, Directed by Sandi Somers (Canada)
A newly-unemployed twentysomething is at a personal crossroads when her sister calls with news compelling her to return to their east coast hometown – only to discover a stunning surprise. Alberta Premiere.

THE LEBANESE BURGER MAFIA, Directed by Omar Mouallem (Canada)
The meaty saga of a rogue fast-food chain with mysterious origins, a cult following, and a secret pathway to the immigrant dream. Calgary Premiere.

ROMI, Directed by Robert Cuffley (Canada)
Forced to hide out at a state-of-the-art smart home, a young woman on the run is terrorized by ROMI, its sinister digital assistant. Alberta Premiere.

TALES FROM THE REZ, Directed by Trevor Solway and Colin Ahnahktsipiitaa Van Loon (Canada)
This local, six-part, horror-comedy anthology web series, creatively adapts popular Blackfoot traditional tales and twisted indigenous urban legends for the screen. World Premiere.

THE TIES THAT BIND, Directed by James Reckseidler (Canada)
Blackmailed and trying to avoid a political scandal, a rising star of the 1930s Aberhart government unexpectedly returns home to small-town Alberta to get the money he needs. World Premiere.

WITHOUT LEAVING ANYONE BEHIND, Directed by Sylvester Ndumbi (Canada)
Can we address the climate crisis without leaving anyone behind? World Premiere.


From an exploration of legendary singer and activist Joan Baez, to addressing music censorship, CIFF has curated another exciting batch of Music on Screen titles.

“I’m incredibly excited for audiences to experience this year’s Music on Screen series. With films that shed new light on some of our most iconic artists, as well as a number of extraordinarily powerful films exploring the intersection between artistry and activism, CIFF audiences are in for a powerhouse lineup of films that will provoke, enlighten, inspire, and engage viewers of all ages,” said Guy Lavallee, CIFF’s Features Programmer.

COVER YOUR EARS, Directed by Sean Patrick Shaul (Canada)
A fascinating – and wildly entertaining – dissection of the history of music censorship. Calgary Premiere.

IMMEDIATE FAMILY, Directed by Denny Tedesco (United States)
The true story of a group of close friends who became the studio band to the biggest stars of the 1970s and beyond, changing the course of musical history. Calgary Premiere.

JOAN BAEZ: I AM A NOISE, Directed by Miri Navasky, Maeve O’Boyle, Karen O’Connor (United States)
At the end of a storied career, Joan Baez takes an honest look back and a deep look inward as she tries to make sense of her expansive, history-making life. Alberta Premiere.

KISS THE FUTURE, Directed by Nenad Cicin-Sain (United States/Ireland)
Exploring music’s role as a weapon of resistance, KISS THE FUTURE follows an underground community that continued working, creating, and thriving throughout the Siege of Sarajevo. Canadian Premiere.

PATRIA Y VIDA: THE POWER OF MUSIC, Directed by Beatriz Luengo (United States)
In an inspiring story about the value of music as a social transformer, six Cuban Afrodescendant rappers spark a lyrical battle for human rights through their song “Patriay Vida.” Canadian Premiere.

THE STONES AND BRIAN JONES, Directed by Nick Broomfield (United Kingdom)
Examines the musical creativity of Brian Jones, the secret to the Rolling Stones’ success, through candid interviews with all the essential performers and previously unreleased archives. Alberta Premiere.

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