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Top 10 Festival Picks from Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Tewksbury

We know, skimming through over 200 films can be fun but it can also be time-consuming. That is why the Calgary International Film Festival has put a call out to our trusty community members, volunteers, and even a few local celebrities to develop their very own Top 10 "Must See lists for the 2017 festival."

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Our next list is brought to you by Mark Tewksbury, a Calgarian, Olympic Gold Medalist, a former competition swimmer, motivational speaker, and film buff (above Mark is pictured on the red carpet with his partner Rob at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto).

Mark doesn't really have a movie “type”. He appreciates clever Hollywood thrillers, challenging coming-of-age documentaries, and quirky light-hearted comedies to name a few. His list highlights many different genres, but they all have something – a story, a character, an issue - that jumped out at him. And – picking only 10 was the hardest part for him! Here's Mark's list in no particular order:

1. BORG/MCENROE  

I grew up watching tennis during that era, and I remember the tension around the Wimbledon match at the heart of this movie. Plus, I think the casting of Shia LaBeouf as “Superbrat” McEnroe is like art imitating real life. 

2. LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKA

The idea of four different points of view (via 4 women in India) sharing a common struggle against the repressive customs and traditions of society appeals to me. Sometimes we take our freedoms for granted and films like this remind me of how lucky I am to live in Canada.

3. INDIAN HORSE

I think this will be a tough film that deals with the ugly residential school legacy. I was recently on a Canada 150 project that spent a lot of time on reconciliation. I think it is important to look at these issues and sport – in this case hockey – which can sometimes make challenging topics more accessible.

4. MARK FELT: THE MAN WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE

In my real-life, I am working with principled Canadians who are taking on the international sport system (and Russia), so this real-life inspired tale of the man behind the downfall of lies at the White House is a must see for me. In case I needed more reason, Liam Neeson is one of my favorite actors and this story could be on CNN today.

5. EL AMPARO  

Another story that is based on a real-life incident from decades ago, but could be set in 2017. Issues of border security (in this film as between Venezuela and Colombia), political conspiracy and the search for truth sounds powerful. And I am traveling to Columbia in October, so have an added interest in seeing this part of the world on film.

6. DON’T TALK TO IRENE

Who hasn’t felt alone and isolated – on the outside looking in – at some point in their lives?  This light-hearted outsider film set in a senior’s home with quirky characters organizing a talent contest seems worth a gamble to me.  Take that American Idol.

7. FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL

I am intrigued by this story of Gloria Grahame, an old Hollywood starlet from the late 1940s and '50s, played by one of my favorite actresses, Annette Bening. I keep cheering Annette on for an Academy Award, and I hope this role that sees her character go through four husbands and too many surgeries is worthy.

8. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

A gay love story - set in the summer, no less! - had to make my list. I am concerned that I might dislike the precocious youth character, but thankfully he falls for Arnie Hammer’s professor assistant, so there will be a healthy distraction.  Arnie is a great mainstream actor, and hopefully, those who may not usually check-out a gay film will give this one a shot. 

9. FÉLICITÉ

This film has the potential to be devastating. I can’t get the image of the empty fridge in the written blurb out of my head, so I can only imagine what the film will do. But I find the contrast and contradiction between a person’s rich on-stage life and brutal struggle real life off-stage very interesting – and a reality many of my artist friends face. 

10. THE QUEEN OF SPAIN

A movie that pokes fun at movies already had my attention. Set it in Francisco Franko’s Spanish dictatorship – interesting. Focus on his propaganda films and star Penelope Cruz – well, need I say more.  

HONORARY MENTION

11. A SWINGERS WEEKEND

I think we shy away from discussions of sexuality as a Canadian society because it makes us feel uncomfortable. Being gay sucked when I was a kid, but the one good thing was it forced me to explore sexuality. Gay or straight, asexual or bi, or anything in between -  I encourage films that deal with sexual exploration. 

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Individual tickets to all of Mark's picks are available via the links above or you can buy packs and passes by clicking here.