Audience members in a theatre
CIFF hits your screens—big and small—once again | Photo: Courtesy of the Calgary International Film Festival

Calgary International Film Festival

CIFF heads back to the theatre with a hybrid lineup and tons of special events

Amy Jo Espetveidt

  • Location Various Venues 
  • Price Prices Vary

Bringing together more than 175 films in-person and 60 virtually online, Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) once again offers a lineup of the year’s most ground-breaking and must-see movies in a hybrid formula.

Representing over 40 countries, you can check it own in downtown Calgary or online across the prairies starting on September 23, 2021.

“There’s an overall sense of optimism and re-emergence in this year’s lineup that feels very refreshing and exciting,” says Brian Owens, CIFF’s Artistic Director, in a statement. “After what we’ve been through globally in the past couple of years, it has very much inspired the coming-of-age story and brought forward a youthful energy and lineup. There are a lot of strong titles and themes and our mandate to showcase diversity is at an all-time-high this year, not only with the countries being represented, but also in the diversity of story and the filmmakers creating these movies.”

While there are ton of great things to check out this year, there’s a really cool series of films we’re especially looking forward to—the fourth annual Generation Next selection. Chosen by nine local high school students, it features a diverse range of genres and stories from around the world as curated through a youth perspective.

“It was such an honour to be a part of the team and work alongside an incredible group of people. I found it so fascinating how we all came from different backgrounds, had different interests and passions, and were able to share our personal opinions on a number of different films,” says Alexis Hope, 18-year-old graduate from Foundations for the Future Charter Academy who was a part of this year’s festival team curating the Generation Next selections, in a statement.

And safety remains paramount. With COVID-19 protocols already in place, CIFF is has also announced that its strict in-cinema COVID-19 policy meets and exceeds the requirements to qualify for the Restrictions Exemption Program.

So, what’s on our must-see list? Here are our top picks for this year’s festival:

Shorts: Youth by Youth Cinema

September 23 – October 3, 2021
In-cinema or stream online

A selection of Canadian short films created and submitted by youth under 18, not only will their films screen at the festival, the jury award winner of this section receives a $500 Youth by Youth Canada Short Film Award, a $2,500 Gift Certificate from White’s for their next film, and a Scholarship to Vancouver Film School valued at up to $18,000! Don’t miss this one!


September 24, 2021, 8:00pm
Eau Claire Cinema (200 Barclay Parade SW)

After failing her final college class, Jane returns home to her family’s lake house, coming to terms with the trauma that derailed her senior year. Libe Barer shines as Jane in Anna Baumgarten’s smart and timely feature film debut based on the 2018 short film of the same name.

See For Me

September 24 – October 3, 2021
In-cinema or stream online

Sophie, a young blind woman, is house-sitting at a secluded mansion when she finds herself under invasion by thieves seeking a hidden safe. Her only means of defense is a new app called See For Me. Don’t miss the Canadian premiere of this intense, high concept home-invasion thriller and the second feature by Randall Okita.


September 25 – October 3, 2021
In-cinema or stream online

In small-town British Columbia, awkward teen Mike Drinkwater has trouble fitting in. Hank, his offbeat father, spends more time living in his own delusional world than paying attention to his son. Mike’s lack of direction takes a turn when he meets the new girl, Wallace. Director Stephen S. Campanelli returns to the festival with a fun, quirky, small-town coming-of-age story with Canadiana written all over it.

Don’t Say Its Name

September 29 – October 3, 2021
In-cinema or stream online

This small, snow-covered Indigenous community is about to see an upturn. Mining company WEC has just made an agreement for drilling on this tribal land, and it’s looking like everyone will benefit—except the land itself. This spiritual thriller from Rueben Martell sees its Alberta premiere both online and in-person.

The Calgary International Film Festival runs September 23 to October 3, 2021, and the full schedule can be found at