With over 1700 events happening across Canada, film screenings are being organized both by well-established film organizations and newbies alike. Filling the house for your event might seem daunting, so we spoke with the organizers of the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF), longtime partners of REEL CANADA and National Canadian Film Day 150 (NCFD 150).
Currently in their 14th year, CUFF is focused on presenting unconventional films to their audience, and are continually ready for the challenge it takes to bring new visions to sold-out crowds.
NCFD 150: CUFF has participated in National Canadian Film Day since we launched back in 2014; why do you think your audience enjoys coming out and supporting the day so much?
Cameron Macgowan, CUFF programmer: CUFF audiences love a good party and love great movies even more. The CUFF team are very enthusiastic when it comes to supporting local and Canadian cinema and we like to think that enthusiasm rubs off on our audience. National Canadian Film Day gives our team and our audience the opportunity to reflect on the diverse array of great films that have come from this fine nation and celebrate the many great homegrown stories.
NCFD 150: CUFF is in its 14th year – congratulations! – what’s been the most significant shift in your audience and their growing appetite for Canadian film?
CUFF: First off, thank you! Hard to believe it’s already been 14 years! The most significant shift we have noticed with our audience is that with each passing year, our core audience have developed a sense of trust with the films that our programming team select and are more willing to take a chance on the lesser-known films in our line-up. This has provided us with the opportunity to program new Canadian works that might not have the advertising budget of higher-budgeted films and give them a chance to shine alongside the other world-class films in our line-up. Nothing makes our team of programmers happier than when can pack the house for a smaller Canadian film that could really use the word-of-mouth buzz.
NCFD 150: What key learnings can you share based on the great successes you’ve had, not only presenting National Canadian Film Day events but the festival overall?
CUFF: As a growing festival, it seems we learn new valuable lessons every year. The biggest lesson is how contagious the enthusiasm of our team is. The more excited we are for an event, the more excited our audience is. This makes the presentation of National Canadian Film Day extremely exciting because we love to be able to bring filmmakers to our festival to give our audience the opportunity to speak with the people who make the films that they love. Getting to hear the adventures of bringing a film to screen often enhances the viewer’s enthusiasm and enjoyment of a film. The joy of seeing a burgeoning filmmaker have their film well received at our festival is one of the greatest rewards of working with CUFF.
NCFD 150: Has your ongoing partnership with National Canadian Film Day enhanced or swayed your programming in any way?
CUFF: The partnership with National Canadian Film Day has reiterated the importance of programming the work of Canadian filmmakers. Making time to celebrate the excellent work of experienced Canadian filmmakers only helps to inspire the work of emerging local talent. The celebration of these films also informs Canadian audiences that although Canadian films often do not have the star-power or marketing budgets of the types of productions they are accustomed to seeing on the big screen, that these films are worth celebrating as they reflect the unique voices of the Canadian people. Opportunities such as National Canadian Film Day which celebrate excellent past achievements are essential in inspiring the next generation of Canadian filmmakers and provide Canadian audiences with a reminder that Canadian cinema rocks.
Thanks to Cameron and to CUFF!
Remember, if you want your screening to be a sold-out success like the ones CUFF hosts, NCFD 150 is here to help. Check out our list of 5 tips to make your NCFD 150 screening a smashing success!
Near Calgary? Don’t miss CUFF’s own NCFD 150 event, screening of Bruce McDonald’s PONTYPOOL. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the director Bruce McDonald and the film’s star Stephen McHattie! And don’t forget to follow CUFF on Twitter @CUFF! Follow us on Twitter @CanFilmDay and share your own tips for a successful screening with us on the hashtag #CanFilmDay!