Calgary film fest fever heats up

Category: Beowulf & Grendel News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: September 8, 2005 | Publication: Calgary Sun | Author: LOUIS B. HOBSON
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CALGARY - The Calgary International Film Festival is growing by leaps and bounds and no one is happier than David Marrelli, the festival's director.

In its first year, the festival hosted 60 films evenly split between full-length features and short films.

There were 35 screenings spread over six days. This year, 467 films -- again split between features and short films -- will have 216 screenings over the 11-day period stretching from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2.

Marrelli isn't the only one with festival fever.

"We've sold $3,800 worth of festival passes and our website isn't even up yet.

"It's people who've come to the festival in the past and know how difficult it can be to get into screenings without a pass," says Marrelli.

The official festival website at calgaryfilm.com goes online today, but the ticket purchasing program will not kick in until tomorrow.

"We had just over 40,000 people attend last year's festival and we're expecting that to grow considerably this year because we've added new venues," says Marrelli.

The Globe, Uptown, Telus World of Science Centre and Plaza theatres will be joined by Eau Claire Cinema #6 and the Jack Singer Concert Hall, which will host two of the festival's gala presentations. The opening night gala at the Globe on Sept. 23 is Deepa Mehta's Water, which opens the Toronto International Film Festival tonight.

Metha and the film's star Lisa Ray will be in attendance.

On Sept. 24, John Fawcett, who began his directing career in Calgary, will present his new psychological thriller The Dark at the Uptown.

It stars Maria Bello and Sean Bean.

The Honky Tonk mocumentary from Toronto filmmaker Michael Mabbott is the Sept. 28 gala at the Uptown with Mabbott and the film's star, singer Matt Murphy, in attendance.

The festival is expecting such a large turnout for the documentary Pay Dirt: The Alberta Oil Sands that the Sept. 30 premiere will be held in the Jack Singer Concert Hall, as will the festival's closing night gala of Beowulf & Grendel on Oct. 2, starring Sarah Polley, Gerard Butler and Stellan Skarsgard.

The guests for both these premieres will be announced next week.

Marrelli insists he has been listening to festival goers from past festivals.

"They've told us by comment and by attendance that their favourite program is World Cinema, so this year we're screening 50 titles including 15 American independent features in this category," says Marrelli.

He is also proud that "50 percent of the festival is Canadian content and 19 percent of the selections showcase Alberta filmmakers.

"We have films from 37 different countries and 22 of the films are having their world premiere in Calgary."