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18th Calgary Underground Film Festival runs online from April 23 – May 2 with a weekend of drive-ins taking place June 3-5


The Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) is set to take place this spring with two distinct events comprising the 18th edition of the festival. The bulk of the programming will be available to stream online for 10 days from April 23 – May 2 followed by three days of drive-ins from June 3-5, 2021.


The online portion of the festival will include approximately 30 features and three shorts packages, along with online panels and industry events. Due to uncertainties around COVID-19 restrictions and the temporary closure of CUFF’s venue the Globe Cinema, the festival will take place entirely online.


“With all the uncertainty in 2021, we are embracing the new industry normal right now. We’ve attended some amazing online festivals over the past few months, and are really looking forward to continuing to showcase groundbreaking filmmakers and indie gems that our audience will be excited about!,” said Festival Director and Lead Programmer Brenda Lieberman.


“Both our June 2020 festival and November’s CUFF.Docs Documentary Film Festival were really successful online events, with great feedback about the streaming process and the ability for our audience to watch a lot of films. While we miss the experience of being in-cinema together – and can’t wait to return – we’re really working on building unique experiences from the comfort of home. We’ll encourage household passes, watch parties, and CUFF will continue to bring an accessible festival experience with closed captions, diverse voices and unique events.”


Most films will be available to watch on-demand, with special events – such as CUFF’s Opening Night Film, panels and other initiatives – available to stream live at set-times. Filmmakers will continue to participate in audience Q&As and conversations with CUFF programmers. This year the festival has expanded from seven to 10 days, giving audiences an additional weekend to watch films.


All selections will be available to stream across Alberta, allowing attendees from all areas of the province to access CUFF’s distinct brand of independent international cinema. In 2021 CUFF was named one of the World’s 50 Best Genre Film Festivals by MovieMaker Magazine and continues to attract audiences with its programming of films that engage audiences and defy convention.


After successful drive-in events last spring and summer, CUFF will once again hold a drive-in series from June 3-5, allowing Calgarians to gather safely in a shared space and experience films collectively on the big screen.


“We loved being able to build the drive-in last year, and create an in-person experience that we had all been missing. We know there will be films that are a must-see on the big screen and are especially great in a safe, drive-in environment, so we are really looking forward to this part of the festival when the weather is better for an outdoor event,” said Lieberman.


CUFF is also set to begin producing a podcast, called CUFFcast, focusing on in-depth interviews with alumni filmmakers and other industry creatives. Hosted by Lead Programmer Cameron Macgowan, the first episode will be released in mid-March.


Today CUFF also revealed the 2021 festival artist and animator – Trey Madsen (artist), and Tank Standing Buffalo (animator), two Calgary-based Indigenous creatives who have brought their unique flair to CUFF’s artwork.


Trey Madsen (festival artist) is a creative artist born in Yellowknife, NWT who now resides in Calgary, AB after graduating from the Alberta College of Art & Design. Irregular and unconventional, the things that make him right for this job can sometimes mean the wrong thing for everything else. Open-minded, and embracing a vast array of inspirational material from "the Everyday" such as movies, art, music, popular vibes, current trends - to the music they play in grocery stores that you admire - and every other virulent influence that we experience from The Everyday. Life is beautiful and the world around us is overwhelming. Find Trey on Instagram at @coolguymadsen #FLOZ and see more of his work here.


Tank Standing Buffalo (festival animator) was raised by wolves. Knowing this explains why Tank works with the subject matter he does. Compulsively making art like a feral beast is the only life he knows. Contact tank by email Tank’s animation will be accompanied by original music created by Sammy Jean, a Calgary born singer-songwriter who performs with her band Sammy Jean & the Samsonites.


You can see Trey’s 2021 CUFF poster illustration HERE. Tank’s animation will be released the week of the festival and will play before every film stream.


The 18th Calgary Underground Film Festival lineup will be announced in early April and tickets will go on sale then.


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