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Oil and gas film from local director Gillian McKercher among new Calgary International Film Festival announcements

Write what you know.

And in the case of local director Gillian McKercher, film what you know.

Circle of Steel, the first feature from the filmmaker and engineer, is about life and the life of uncertainty that comes with working in the oil and gas industry. Also notable is that the film features a soundtrack made up entirely of Alberta artists.

It’s just one of another dozen films that Calgary Film organizers announced in their third wave of titles — dubbed Between Places — that will be screened during the 2018 event, which takes place this year Sept. 19 to 30.

Other highlights include Tribeca Film Fest’s Best International Narrative Feature Smuggling Hendrix, which is about a Cyprus musician’s attempt to get his beloved runaway pooch, Jimi, back to the other side of the disputed territory, and time-travel, comedic heist flick Mega Time Squad from director Tim Van Dammen.

“These films shine a light on those defining moments that set us on a new path,” Stephen Schroeder, executive director of Calgary Film, said in a release. “Whether that moment is about moving past invisible borders, tangible walls or simply embracing different mindsets, the subjects in these films are all about to make that leap.”

Here are the rest of the newly announced films, plus their descriptions provided by the folks at Calgary Film:

Amateurs directed by Gabriela Pichler: When the German low-cost superstore Superbilly considers opening shop in the small Swedish community of Lafors, the local government office makes a commercial to sell Lafors as the prime location. Aida and Dana, two high school kids, decide to turn their mobiles and selfie sticks toward everyone that isn’t allowed to take part in the commercial. A quirky narrative film, with subtitles.

Birds of Passage directed by Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego: This visually stunning narrative feature takes us to the origin of the drug trade in the Guajira desert of Colombia, from the perspective of the indigenous Wayuu population who end up trading their traditional farming for marijuana.

Clara directed by Akash Sherman: Isaac Bruno (Patrick J. Adams, Suits, Room for Rent) is an astronomer obsessed with searching the cosmos for signs of life beyond Earth, despite the collapse of his personal life right in front of him. His relentless research of the night sky leads him into the path of an unqualified but confident amateur astronomer named Clara (played by Troian Bellisario, Suits, Pretty Little Liars). Working together, their effort ultimately leads them to a shocking and profound scientific discovery. This is Canadian director Akash Sherman’s second feature film.

Giant Little Onesdirected by Keith Behrman: This Canadian feature tells the tale of two best friends since childhood. High school royalty, the boys are  handsome, stars of the swim team and popular with girls. They live a perfect teenage life – until the night of Franky’s epic 17th birthday party, when Franky and Ballas are involved in an unexpected incident that changes their lives forever.

Island of the Hungry Ghosts directed by Gabrielle Brady: On a remote tropical island, forty million crabs migrate through a dense jungle and rocky shores to the freedom of the sea. Christmas Island is also a temporary home to refugees seeking passage to Australia but confined to a high security detention centre deep in the jungle. With a brilliant score, lush cinematography and keen attention to detail, this award winning documentary focuses on the detention centre’s trauma counselor as she and her young family navigate local mythologies that surround them.

Room Laundering directed by Tomoo Ezaki: Shy and preferring to keep to herself, Miko has with the perfect job – a “room launderer.” When a previous tenant dies of unnatural cases, such as murder or suicide, the “room launderer” purifies it. This is done by staying on the property long enough to clear its manager from legal requirement to inform future tenants of the tragedy. Miko’s only problem is she can see and talk to the dead. This Japanese first feature blends  quirky comedy and light-hearted drama.

Sir directed by Rohena Gera: Ratna works as domestic live-in help with Ashwin. Although Ashwin is wealthy, Ratna can sense that he he’s given up on his dreams and is somewhat lost. On the other hand, Ratna who seems to have nothing, is full of hope and works determinedly towards her dream. This narrative feature depicts the social structure in India and the restrictions that prevent people from following their dreams.

Souls of Totality directed by Richard Raymond: Lady 18 and Guy 3 have a secret. They are members of a cult that believes if they die during a solar eclipse, their souls will be taken to paradise. But that’s not their secret. They are also profoundly in love. An American short film.

The Unicorn directed by Robert Schwartzman: When an engaged couple, Caleb and Malory are forced to go to Palm Springs for a weekend to celebrate Malory’s parents’ 25th wedding vow renewal, they discover the secret to the parents’ happy marriage – threesomes. Horrified but intrigued, and determined to properly celebrate their own “re-engagement,” they set out on a wild night in search of a threesome of their own.

These films join previously announced music-themed films, including documentaries on Joan Jett and Canadian rock icon Randy Bachman, as well as other pictures including the Closing Gala selection Making Coco: The Grant Fuhr Story, a doc about the Edmonton Oilers Hall of Famer.

Early bird Calgary Film passes and ticket packages are on sale now from calgaryfilm.com at a discounted price until Aug. 26. Single tickets for all of the films at the festival will go on sale online Aug. 28, when the complete lineup will be announced.

Check back next Wednesday, when more films will be announced.

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