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The Programmers' Top 10 Films For the Final Weekend

Over the last few weeks, we've brought you recommendations from the executive director, regular Calgary fans, and even an Olympic champion. As we head into the final weekend of film, we asked our programmers to round up a top 10 list of movies that you can find at our venues between now and the end of the festival. If you haven't seen any of these gems yet, check the schedule for showtimes and head out to the theatre!

Here they are, in no particular order:

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1. MAN PROPOSES, GOD DISPOSES

Plays Friday, Sept 29 & Sunday, Oct 1 – Tickets available for both screenings

Here's what our Film Programming Administrator Gillian McKercher had to say about this film, which tells the story of a Portuguese man, a Brazilian woman, and their lives after a one-night stand ends in pregnancy: I was blown away by the opening sequence of this movie. From then on, Daniel Leo's debut feature continues to impress. Each shot and each scene is crafted with intention - clearly, Leo loves cinema and has the capacity to contribute a fresh perspective. I love that this Canadian film was shot internationally; so many people of our country are born or have close ties to the world abroad. In totality MAN PROPOSES, GOD DISPOSES has an occasionally challenging vision that is bold, sympathetic, and earnest. I can't wait to see what Leo makes next.

2. BIRTH OF A FAMILY

Plays Friday, Sept 29 & Sunday, Oct 1 – Tickets available for both screenings

This Albertan documentary reunites four Indigenous siblings and their mother, who were forcibly split up five decades ago under the residential school system. A stirring testament to hope, love, and the invisible bonds that keep us together through the darkest imaginable times.

3. HAVE A NICE DAY

Plays Sunday, Oct 1 – Tickets still available

Who said cartoons were for kids? This deftly animated and well-written Chinese heist film has been making waves at festivals around the world, with its mix of China's Jia Zhang-ke and America's Tarantino styles. The result is a fast-paced, wild and fun journey through the world of crime and revenge. 

4. MIGHTY GROUND 

Plays Saturday, Sept 30 & Sunday, Oct 1 – Tickets available for both screenings

Programmer Guy Lavallee weighed in on why he chose this film, about a homeless man in Los Angeles with a voice of gold and dreams that always seem out of his reach: The most inspirational - and inspiring - music doc of the year, MIGHTY GROUND proves that no one is beyond redemption, and that everyone deserves a second chance. At a point in time when we need basic human compassion more than ever, MIGHTY GROUND helped restore my faith in humanity.

5. DON'T TALK TO IRENE

Plays Saturday, Sept 30 – Tickets still available 

Newcomer to feature film Michelle McLeod helms the title role in this offbeat comedy about a teased and overweight girl who convinces a group of senior citizens that it's never too late to follow your true passions. Plus, the director Pat Mills will be at both screenings, and McLeod will be in town for the show on Sept 28.

6. THE LAST ANIMALS

Plays Saturday, Sept 30 & Sunday, Oct 1 – Tickets available for both screenings

It's a problem that everyone knows about, but the scale of it is hard to appreciate: many iconic large animal species are going extinct, such as elephants and northern white rhinos. First-time filmmaker Kate Brooks, who will be in Calgary for both screenings, dives into the reality of the situation head-on, bringing the animals' plight to life in a beautifully shot, sobering look at what scientists call "The Sixth Extinction". 

7. SMALL TOWN CRIME

Plays Sunday, Oct 1 – Tickets still available 

Programmer Guy Lavallee has some high praise for this Coen Brothers-esque, darkly comic crime thriller, about an alcoholic ex-cop who stumbles across a nearly-dead girl on a roadside and vows to find her attacker: Playing in the same sandbox as some of my favourite iconic crime fiction authors (think Elmore Leonard), SMALL TOWN CRIME dishes up a delicious, 70's-style vibe, anchored by the great John Hawkes. The one film this year that I just did not want to see end!

8. MARLINA THE MURDERER IN FOUR ACTS

Plays Saturday, Sept 30 – Tickets still available 

Can you still call it a Western if it takes place in Indonesia? The world's first "Satay Western" tells the story of Marlina, a grieving widow who is accosted by a ruthless gang before her husband has even been buried. With no intention of submitting to the group, she makes her way across the countryside - and we are taken on an adventure that flips the classic Western movie genre on its side.

9. LOWLIFE

Plays Friday, Sept 29 & Sunday, Oct 1 – Tickets available for both screenings

So a disgraced Mexican wrestler, a recovering addict trying to arrange a black market organ transplant, and a parolee  with a full-face swastika tattoo walk into a bar...or, at least, onto the screen in this dark ensemble comedy that sees these three unlikely heroes trying to save a pregnant woman's life. Director Ryan Prows' first feature film took home a Silver Prize Audience Award at the 2017 Fantasia Film Festival.

10. SHORTS: SMALL VICTORIES and PROS AND CONSEQUENCES

SMALL VICTORIES plays Friday, Sept 29 & Sunday, Oct 1 // PROS AND CONSEQUENCES plays Saturday, Sept 30 – Tickets available for all screenings

Get a dozen stories for the price of one! Our themed shorts packages are jammed full of heart and soul, comedy and drama, and reality and fiction. Settle in for some worldly entertainment from filmmakers right here in Calgary or from around the globe. Whether it's the story of an injured turtle rescue foundation, an attempt to cross 11 mountain ridges in a single day, the very real threat of a child's self-inflicted gunshot wound, or one of the many other tales woven throughout the collections, there's no better way to get your fill of everything that film is than by checking out a shorts package.

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The Calgary International Film Festival runs until the end of the day on Sunday, October 1. Don't miss our Behind The Screen events, our festival hotspot over at Paper St, our Closing Gala presentation of SUCK IT UP on Saturday evening, or our Awards Party on Sunday night!