CUFF.Docs kicked off Wednesday night with a screening of the exceptional documentary Mr. Fish: Cartooning From the Deep End.
But there are still four more days of fantastic docs screening at the Globe Cinema, with an amazing array of subject matter — from giant swamp rats to ridiculous auteurs.
Here are five more films to target throughout the rest of the fest.
Rodents of Unusual Size, Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m.: Take Duck Dynasty, strip away all of the contrivance and white trash tropes, add real and likeable people, and throw in large vermin for good measure, you’ll get a sense of this thoughtful, beautifully-shot albeit suitably gritty documentary. It shows Louisianians who hunt the nutria, an animal indigenous to South America that was brought to the U.S. in the 1930s for fur-farming purposes. Unfortunately, some escaped or were released into the environment and, when fur was shunned in the ’80s, were allowed to breed, multiply and decimate the swamps with their voracious appetites for the wetlands. Now, with a state-sponsored culling earning hunters $5-per-tail for this incredibly invasive species, the environmental battle is on to save the bayou from these beasts. Note: Not for the squeamish or those who think all creatures are cuddly.
The Insufferable Groo, Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.: Laughing at? Or laughing with. That’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself when it comes to prolific American indie filmmaker Stephen Groo, a man who has made more than 180 films in the past 20 years — writing, directing, starring in and doing so much more in most of these b-films (c-minus? D?). He’s become something of a cult figure and this self-described wolf, is called by friends and admirers everything from a “magician,” “true American, do-it-yourself auteur,” and an “eccentric,” with that being the “fine line between madness and genius.” The doc journeys with him as he attempts to get a big, for him, budget film made — The Unexpected Race, which is an elf-human love story. It’s about the passion of an artist, whose obliviousness is almost as equal to that of his dedication, with it being summed up beautifully as he notes that he wrote 66 pages of the script in three days. “I read it to my mom last night and she felt it was pretty solid.” It’s funny, silly, a little sad, but ultimately a celebration of the act of creation and those who live for only that.
Matanga/Maya/M.I.A., Saturday, Dec. 1 at 9:45 p.m.: A personal look at one of the most interesting “pop stars” to top the charts in a long, long time — the story of M.I.A. (a.k.a Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam) really is a fascinating one. The artist was born in England, moved with her family to Sri Lanka, where her father became the founder of a revolutionary Tamil group. From there, and for their safety, Maya and the rest of family bounced around, finally landing back in the U.K, where she became a visual artist, filmmaker and eventually musician in the early 2000’s, releasing the stellar debut Arular before striking it big with the 2007 hit Paper Planes used perfectly in stoner comedy classic Pineapple Express. Director Stephen Loveridge’s Sundance award-winning, debut feature film uses footage from the past two decades to piece together a still-coming-into-focus picture of a woman, artist and activist, who may be known for but will definitely never be defined by any single part of her identity.
This Changes Everything, Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4:20 p.m.: Hopefully it does. Change everything. Or change something. At least give the conversation that much more fuel to make sure something, anything, happens. This timely documentary takes a look at the systemic sexism and inequality in Hollywood from those who have suffered under the misogynistic hands of it — A-list actors, directors and others — before the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements even officially began. Through interviews with and anecdotes from such names as Meryl Streep, Geena Davis, Reese Witherspoon, Cate Blanchett, Lena Dunham and Natalie Portman, we get a very real and very human sense of how pervasive those horror stories, roadblocks and ideas, attitudes and practises are in what has always been viewed as a progressive industry. Support this film and also support those local groups that have partnered with CUFF to help present it, including Femme Wave, ACTRA Alberta and Herland.
Wolves Unleashed: Against All Odds, Sunday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.: Some local CUFF.Docs content — this is the sequel to Andrew Simpson’s 2011 Wolves Unleashed documentary. It follows the Scotland-born, Calgary-based filmmaker’s own experiences as an animal trainer, who has worked with the feathered, furred and four-legged actors in such films and television shows as Game of Thrones, Elf, A Cry In the Dark and The Revenant. This time, however, he and his team are tasked with raising and training some Mongolian wolves for a big-screen blockbuster in China, and it’s anything but an easy and straight-forward assignment for the man with 20-plus-years of experience in the biz. With lots of action, drama, conflict, and highs and lows, it’s 86-minutes of the wild and wooly with an Alberta view. Making it all the more of a homecoming is that Simpson will be in attendance for this screening.
CUFF.Docs runs until Sunday, Dec. 2 at the Globe Cinema. For tickets and the full schedule of films please click here.