5 to see at CUFF.Docs 2019

What’s stranger than fiction?

The facts that are filling the screen this weekend for the annual CUFF.Docs fest taking place until Dec. 1 at the Globe Cinema.

The good folks at the Calgary Underground Film Festival started the event six years ago because, according to festival director,  Brenda Lieberman, “we couldn’t fit enough docs into our April festival. 

“We see so many documentaries each year on the festival circuit, and we know that it’s a greater experience to watch them with an audience, in cinema, together. That’s what is so special about our festivals and the community we’re building of avid attendees.”

This year’s fest is another smorgasbord of weird, wonderful, awe-inspiring, touching, thought-provoking, challenging and celebratory.

While it kicked off on Wednesday, Nov. 27 with a packed-to-the-rafters screening of The Amazing Johnathan Documentary, there are still four more days to get your fill of factual films.

Here are five to target from the biggest CUFF.Docs yet.

Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story, Thursday, Nov. 29, 7 p.m.

Generations of powder people grew up watching the work of Warren Miller — famed filmmaker and extreme sports pioneer. He passed away last year at the age of 96, but sat down for an extensive interview about his life and his life’s work just before he did. Get a little insight about the man behind the lens for some of the most amazing snow scenes shot.

Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man, Friday, Nov. 30, 7 p.m.

A shit show. Quite literally. This doc from director Lily Zepeda follows Jack Sim, the founder of the Restroom Association of Singapore, the World Toilet Organization and the World Toilet Day initiative on his quest to — at the behest of India’s Prime Minister Modi — turn the nation into a

defecation-free zone. What does that mean? No idea. But it’s probably something we should all give a crap about.

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday, Nov. 30, 9:30 p.m.

It’s been called the gayest horror film to come out of the mainstream — 1985’s Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddie’s Revenge. If you saw it as a kid or a teenager, that probably isn’t what you walked away from it thinking, but for many the homoeroticism was obvious. For the film’s star Mark Patton, it was also a career-killer. This doc shows what it did to him and his life, especially against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis in the States and Hollywood. It’s fascinating, heartbreaking and redemptive.

QT8: The First Eight, Saturday, Nov. 31, 4 p.m.

Fans of Quentin Tarantino, of which there are many, as well as detractors, will want to see director Tara Wood’s take on the filmmaker’s octo oeuvre thus far. Yes, it has a few flaws — such as a lack of actual access to Tarantino and a segment on his relationship with Harvey Weinstein that, although necessary, seems tacked on — but it’s still worth revisiting his work and how he became one of modern North American film’s most successful and revered auteurs. As a bonus, Wood will be in attendance at the screening for a Q&A following the film.

The Secret Marathon, Sunday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m.

A film about Afghanistan with a uniquely Alberta angle. This doc chronicles Edmonton long-distance runner Martin Parnell’s journey to run in the Marathon of Afghanistan in solidarity with Zainab, the first Afghani woman to defy convention and societal norms in the Asian nation to run in the race. Another inspiring film with something to say about gender, freedom and what sport can do to help further the conversation about both. AB-based directors Kate McKenzie & Scott Townend, and Parnell will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening.

CUFF.Docs runs until Dec. 1 at the Globe Cinema. For tickets and more information please go to