8 Films to Watch at the 20th Annual Calgary Underground Film Festival

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Calgary Underground Film Festival is showcasing 80 feature-length and short films from April 20 to 30, 2023.

Sterling K. Brown and Mark Duplass in Biosphere. Still courtesy of Calgary Underground Film Festival.

Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) is back at it again, this time celebrating its 20th anniversary and the festival’s biggest event to date. To mark two decades of presenting the best indie films around, CUFF partnered with Eighty-Eight Brewing Co. to create a limited edition brew, plus it will host live script readings and a Saturday morning cartoon party along with the usual line-up of screenings and events like the opening night party, filmmaker Q&As and the 48-hour filmmaking challenge. This year, 42 feature-length films and 38 short films make up the docket, all showing at Globe Cinema from April 20 to 30.

CUFF recently made MovieMaker Magazine’s list of 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee 2023. So it’s no surprise that this internationally recognized festival is stacked with genres ranging from drama and thrillers to sci-fi and documentaries, as well as local stories. Tickets can be purchased as a full pass, in five-show bundles or for individual screenings.

Now here are eight films you don’t want to miss this year.


Onyx the Fortuitous and The Talisman of Souls

When: April 20, 7 p.m.

On the opening night of CUFF, catch this horror-comedy film directed by Andrew Bowser. The film takes a cast of wild characters, throws them into the occult and forces them to fight for their lives in this movie of satanic worship and odd-ball comedy. Tickets for this showing must be purchased separately, and include entry to CUFF’s opening night afterparty at The Derrick.


Mister Organ

When: April 22, 4:45 p.m.

Journalist and filmmaker David Farrier is known for his documentaries that delve into strange underworlds with titles like Dark Tourist and Tickled. In Mister Organ, Farrier begins looking into a story of a mysterious wheel clamper in his New Zealand locale and is drawn into a three-year long investigation.



When: April 23, 6 p.m.

Directed by Matt Johnson and produced by Matthew Miller (both from Operation Avalanche and The Dirties), the film follows the story of Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel) and Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton), creators of the Blackberry, the world’s first smartphone. It chronicles the creation of the world-changing device through to its ultimate demise. It’s a darkly comedic telling of this Canadian story that looks at the revolutionization of how we work and live today.


Showing Up

When: April 23, 5:30 p.m.

Showing Up is a heartfelt and honest look at creativity and making a living as an artist, while balancing complex family dramas and daily tribulations. This film from Kelly Reichardt premiered at Cannes Film Festival 2022, and has been touted as a “beautifully crafted” and “sweetly comedic” film about Lizzy (Michelle Williams), a teacher at a free-spirited arts college, the everyday, relatable situations that arise there, and how they shine through in her own work.


Sick of Myself

When: April 24, 9:30 p.m.

This Norwegian dark comedy has gained international acclaim and been selected for numerous film festivals, including Cannes 2022. Directed by Kristoffer Borgli, the film is a self-declared “unromantic comedy” following young barista Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp) who fakes a flesh-eating skin disease in an attempt to one-up her friend with whom she is in an unhealthily competitive relationship.


Relax, I’m From the Future

When: April 25, 6:30 p.m.

Based on the short film of the same name from the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, Relax, I’m From the Future is the feature-length directorial debut for Luke Higginson. Themes of fate and our power to change it are explored as Casper (Rhys Darby), an ill-prepared traveler from the future, teams up with Doris (Janine Theriault). Together, they exploit Casper’s knowledge, which changes the future, only to question if the changed version of the future is truly worth saving.



When: April 28, 7 p.m.

From seasoned Canadian director Kurtis David Harder, this horror/thriller flick warns of the dangers of social media and the loneliness of being an online celebrity. Social media personality Madison (Emily Tennant) heads to Thailand for an uneventful trip — despite what it may look like on Instagram — when she meets CW (Cassandra Naud), an avid explorer who takes her on new adventures. Things take a dark turn when Madison is brought to an off-the-grid island.



When: April 29, 6:30 p.m.

Longtime best friends Billy (Mark Duplass) and Ray (Sterling K. Brown) are the last two men on Earth, living inside a biospheric dome that allows them to carry on while the rest of the planet cannot. However, as systems inside the dome begin to fail, Billy and Ray face an uncertain future.

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