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15 Canadian Films to Celebrate on Canada 150

We’re just a few days away from Canada’s 150th birthday, and like all the rest of our fellow Canadians, we’re eager to celebrate all the things that make the Great White North so, well, great! And as it turns out, we have a few things to boast about besides poutine, Tragically Hip concerts, and glow-in-the-dark $2 coins. We also have a burgeoning film scene – especially here in Alberta – and our filmmakers offer entertainment that rivals big-budget Hollywood movies in production and Shakespeare in quality of writing. In the spirit of Canada’s sesquicentennial, here are 15 of our favourite films from the past five years that played the Calgary International Film Festival!

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1.     MY AWKWARD SEXUAL ADVENTURE (2012)

Mild-mannered accountant Jordan (Jonas Chernick), after being dumped by his girlfriend due to his poor sex skills, enlists the help and advice of exotic dancer Julie (Emily Hampshire) to win her back – and gets far out of his comfort zone in the process.

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2.     RHYMES FOR YOUNG GHOULS (2013)

On a Mi’qmaq reservation in the 1970s, Alia (Devery Jacobs) escapes the horrific environment of the local school by selling marijuana and giving a cut of the profits to “Popper”, the merciless federal Indian Affairs agent. When her money is stolen, she formulates a plan to replace it…no matter the cost.

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3.     TU DORS NICOLE (2012)

22-year-old Nicole (Julianne Côté) and her friend Veronique (Catherine St-Laurent) are enjoying an empty house over the summer until her brother shows up with his band to record their album. In the midst of a stifling heat wave, the group struggles to get along and not succumb to the rising temperatures and pressure from all directions.

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4.     WHEN THE OCEAN MET THE SKY (2014)

Three estranged brothers are set to receive an inheritance in their parents’ will, on one condition: they must journey to a remote location and hunt for it. Forced to confront their past issues as they follow a vague, hand-drawn map, the brothers begin to wonder if their reward even exists at all.

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5.     TEEN LUST (2014)

Awkward teen Neil (Jesse Carere) finds out the hard way that not only are his parents Satanic cultists – but that they plan to use him as a virgin sacrifice. Enlisting the help of his best friend, he sets out on a quest to lose his virginity before the night is over, ensuring his safety for now and in the future.

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6.     SLEEPING GIANT (2015)

Adam Hudson is stuck – figuratively between childhood and adulthood, and more literally, at a cottage with his parents on the shores of Lake Superior, wallowing in boredom. When he starts to spend time with roughhousing cousins Riley and Nate, their gradual one-upmanship leads to Adam’s disillusionment with his perfect family life.

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7.     THE SAVER (2015)

Fern is a teenage girl, orphaned while in the throes of a brutal Montreal winter. Escaping the government officers sent to collect her, she takes up her mother’s job as a cleaner, and stumbles across a book that claims to teach her how to be a millionaire – a quest that Fern decides to take very seriously from that point on.

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8.     THE SMALLS: FOREVER IS A LONG TIME (2015)

Between 1989 and 2001, Edmonton-based rock band The Smalls blew across the music scene in Canada and abroad before suddenly calling it quits at the height of their popularity – and returning for one last hurrah, 13 years later. What was it like to be on the inside?

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9.     GUANTANAMO’S CHILD (2015)

At age 15, Canadian citizen Omar Khadr was arrested for crimes related to the war on terror. Ending up in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, he spent just as much time locked up in one of the world’s most notorious political prisons. Now, his legal battles about rights and freedoms shine an uncomfortable light on what safety and security mean in the modern world.

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10.  WEIRDOS (2016)

Among the countryside of Canada’s eastern coast in 1976, runaway Kit (Dylan Authors) and his girlfriend Alice (Julia Sarah Stone) set out on their own, determined to hitchhike to a new life with Kit’s mother Laura. But the road is not kind to them, and fractures soon appear in their relationship, threatening their new life before it even starts.

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11.   OUT OF MIND, OUT OF SIGHT (2014)

At the Brockville Mental Health Centre, a forensic psychiatric hospital for people who have committed violent crimes, four residents share the stories of how they ended up inside its walls – residents who are not criminally responsible for the acts they did.

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12.   HEARTBEAT (2014)

A copywriter with big dreams, Justine (Tanya Davis) longs to escape the daily grind and do something more with her life – despite being afraid to make the leaps of faith required. When her on-again, off-again ex leaves town and she dusts off her old guitar, she rediscovers the love of music and performance that she once tried to deny.

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13.  SANTA QUEST (2015)

Every year in Sweden, Santas from around the world compete at the Santa Winter Games, vying for the top spot and the bragging rights that come along with it. Canadian legend John Dunsworth (TRAILER PARK BOYS) heads overseas to train up and try his hand, discovering more about religion, belief, human nature, and ultimately, his own strengths and weaknesses.

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14.     REBELLE (WAR WITCH) (2012)

12-year-old Komona is abducted by rebels and forced to become a child soldier under the fearsome warlord Great Tiger. After surviving an attack and resisting the warlord’s advances, she escapes with another young boy – but in this harsh land of war and famine, escape from every danger is never permanent.

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15.     ANTIVIRAL (2012)

In this twisted tale of future celebrity culture in overdrive, a company has arisen that sells the illnesses of famous people to their obsessed fans. One of the employees, Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones), attempts to exploit the system, resulting in a terrible miscalculation – and now he finds himself in the middle of a potentially lethal problem.

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Do you have a favourite Canadian film that isn’t on this list? Any gems that we might not know about? Use the hashtag #calgaryfilm to tell us what we might have missed, and don’t forget to follow us on social media @calgaryfilm to stay updated on our summer events and other festival news. (As for right now, you can get your early bird ticket packs and passes…the perfect present for any movie buff!)

 

We’ve got plenty of new ideas coming this year, and we can’t wait to share them with all of our Calgary film lovers as we get closer to September 20. For now, we’ll keep the drinks cold, the popcorn hot, and the movies coming!