Steve Schroeder knows the power movies have to bring people together — Calgarians, especially. Since 2012, his job has been to “engage and entertain audiences” in his role as executive director of the Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) — an event that, he says, unites people, regardless of their backgrounds. “It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have some form of passion and connection to the movies,” Schroeder says.
Launched in 2000, the first festival took place over six days and hosted 8,000 people. Today, CIFF is an 11-day extravaganza that screens more than 175 multi-genre films for upwards of 35,000 attendees. While connection proved more difficult over the past two years, when COVID-19 restrictions brought changes to the standard festival format, Schroeder is looking forward to returning to an open and collaborative experience this year. Along with his passion for film, Schroeder loves Calgary (he’s lived here most of his life), especially the locals’ openness and the city’s acceptance of new ideas. Here are some of the spots he frequents when he’s not in festival mode.
“Going to Tokyo Street Market feels like I’ve been transported somewhere that’s not quite Calgary. Katsu chicken curry is one of my favourite Japanese dishes and it’s so hot and fresh there — and I love that I can supplement whatever I order with a couple pieces of fresh sushi.”
“I’m passionate about downhill skiing and Ski Cellar Snowboard has always been my go-to for [gear]. Every time I’m there, I feel like I’m around people who live, breathe and eat skiing, and I leave with a deeper understanding of the equipment.”
“If there was no other store in Calgary except Lukes, you could still get 99.9 per cent of everything you need. It’s so meat and potatoes — you can literally get meat and potatoes there. At the same time, you can get cool vinyl records, a soft serve, a great mocha and you can fill a prescription and mail a parcel.”
“This is one of my favourite live music venues and a great place to have a happy hour beer. I saw Amos Garrett there with my family right before the pandemic.”
“From Tom Campbell’s Hill, you can see the mountains, as well as where the prairies and the foothills come together.”
“It seems like independent cinemas are an endangered species, but great cities find a way to keep them. I’ve had so many fantastic social and movie experiences at the Globe.”
“We have an embarrassment of riches in Calgary in terms of locally brewed craft beers. Citizen is one of the best and most consistent. I love the outdoor patio, the nachos and the North West Pale Ale.”
“If you want a chocolate croissant, you’re not going to find anything better than Sucre, which is kitty corner from the CIFF office on 8th Street S.W. Its soups and sandwiches are also tasty; the sirloin steak baguette is one of my favourite lunchtime indulgences.”