FES­TI­VAL PIV­OTS FOR COVID-19 PAN­DEMIC

Drive-in hor­ror flicks, genre-de­fy­ing cult films high­light CUFF 2020

Calgary Herald - - YOU - ERIC VOLMERS

Hor­ror movies and drive-ins have al­ways been a po­tent mix. So it’s hardly sur­pris­ing that the Cal­gary Un­der­ground Film Fes­ti­val’s first ex­per­i­ment with drive-in events will fea­ture three hor­ror ti­tles screened at Big Rock Brew­ery.

“It’s a late-night ex­pe­ri­ence as well so it just seemed fit­ting to put these films in the mix,” says fes­ti­val di­rec­tor Brenda Lieber­man. “When you are watch­ing things late at night, it’s fun to have that ex­tra level of keep­ing you awake.”

Still, as be­fit­ting a fes­ti­val that caters to genre con­nois­seurs, the three films rep­re­sent a broad range of hor­ror’s many flavours. Un­cle Peck­er­head is an Amer­i­can hor­ror-com­edy by Matthew John Lawrence about a tour­ing band that hires a can­ni­bal hill­billy as its roadie. Jay Baruchel’s Ran­dom Acts of Vi­o­lence is an old-fash­ioned slasher flick while Aaron Moor­head and Justin Ben­son’s Syn­chronic has a more cere­bral sci-fi/hor­ror bent.

Hor­ror is just one of the gen­res or genre hy­brids fea­tured at CUFF 2020, which will oth­er­wise take place on­line but still of­fer its usual sam­pling of un­der­ground and cult cin­ema. The fes­ti­val, which was set to run in April but can­celled due to COVID -19, runs June 22 to 27 and will fea­ture 22 films not cur­rently stream­ing any­where else.

The fes­ti­val will open June 22 with a live, on­line pre­sen­ta­tion of the Sun­dance favourite Din­ner In Amer­ica, Adam Carter Rehmeier’s dark com­ing-of-age com­edy that will fea­ture a live Q&A with the di­rec­tor. That film will only be avail­able on June 22 as a live event. But be­gin­ning June 23 at mid­night, the en­tire lineup will be avail­able on-de­mand un­til June 28 at 11:59 p.m.

There will be other Cuff-crowd favourites this year as well, in­clud­ing the June 23 re­turn of the Found Footage Fes­ti­val by Joe Pick­ett and Nick Prue­her. This new­est edi­tion, dubbed “Quar­an­tine Clas­sics,” will also fea­ture a live Q&A with Pick­ett and Prue­her af­ter they show­case a trea­sure trove of typ­i­cally bizarre VHS good­ies, late-night in­fomer­cials and other stranger-than-fic­tion clips. The fes­ti­val will also be of­fer­ing an at-home ver­sion of Satur­day Morn­ing Al­lyou-can-eat Ce­real Party, a CUFF favourite that will fea­ture a lineup of car­toons from the ’60s through to the ’80s.

There will be a world pre­miere of Five Bucks at the Door: The Story of Crocks N Rolls. The doc­u­men­tary, by for­mer FFWD writer and edi­tor Kirsten Kosloski, chron­i­cles the legacy of Thun­der Bay’s premier live venues in the 1980s and 1990s. Kosloski will par­tic­i­pate in a live Q&A on June 24.

An­other mu­sic doc, This Film Should Not Ex­ist, will also have its world pre­miere at CUFF in part­ner­ship with Sled Is­land. It tells the story of 1990s Scot­tish art-punkers the Coun­try Teasers. An­drew J. Mor­gan and Ni­cholas Mum­mer­dor’s doc­u­men­tary Sleeze Lake: Van­life at Its Low­est & Best will also have its first screen­ing. It is about the stranger-than-fic­tion sub­cul­ture of “van­ners,” who set up their own town in the late 1970s based around cus­tom vans with shag car­pets.

Other high­lights in­clude I Blame So­ci­ety, a satiric “mock­u­men­tary” and de­but film by Amer­i­can di­rec­tor-screen­writer

star Gillian Hor­vat, and I Used to Go Here, a rel­a­tively ac­ces­si­ble com­edy about a nov­el­ist who re­turns to her alma mater and finds her­self en­tan­gled in the lives of a group of col­lege stu­dents.

Ran­dom Acts of Vi­o­lence, an old-fash­ioned slasher flick di­rected by Jay Baruchel, sec­ond from right, is part of the Cal­gary Un­der­ground Film Fes­ti­val’s drive-in fea­tures.

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