Dinner In America, Random Acts of Violence and Uncle Peckerhead among films screening for Calgary Underground Film Festival’s 2020 online event

It’s an old adage for a new time: The show must go on … line.

As the world ground to a halt and society’s artists and arts groups looked for alternative means to get their work out, keep the quarantined entertained and, more importantly, stay alive, the migration to the digital world was something that was deemed almost necessary.

Even as things begin to open, there are still many concerts, spoken-word performances, theatrical productions, readings — and now festivals — that can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.

And trust the innovative folks at the Calgary Underground Film Festival to embrace it fully and put together a stellar lineup of alternative cinematic offerings worthy of their virtual 2020 event, which takes place June 22 to 28.

“This festival will look different than most, but, our whole team is really looking forward to this new festival format,” said festival director and lead programmer Brenda Lieberman. 

“Not only do we get to provide our regular audience with some amazing new films, but we also have the unique opportunity this year to have new audiences experience what we have to offer.”

And, again, it’s an astounding collection of challenging, entertaining and engaging films that CUFF will have on offer for home viewing to anyone in Alberta — including 21 features and three world premieres.

Things kick off on the Monday night (June 22), with a live screening of Sundance fave, director Adam Carter Rehmeie’s Dinner In America, which is “about a punk rocker and a young woman obsessed with his band.”

“I loved this film from the minute I started watching it at Sundance,” Lieberman said. “I think I was five minutes in, and I had the feeling like I had found our opening film. We’ll be doing opening night as a live event, as close to our in-cinema experience our audience knows and loves, including a live introduction, followed by the screening, and ending with a live Q&A.”

And while the online gala will only be available for that evening, most of the other films will be available for viewing on demand until June 28 at 11:59 p.m. 

Some of the highlights of the fest include a trio of documentary world premieres: former Calgary writer and director Kirsten Kosloski’s Five Bucks at the Door: The Story of Crocks N Rolls about a seminal Thunder Bay alt-rock club; the movie Sleeze Lake: Vanlife at its Lowest and Best, which looks at the van culture of the late-’70s in America; and a co-present with COVID casualty Sled Island, the doc about garage rock act Country Teasers called This Film Should Not Exist.

Also back this year and in virtual form are fan favourites: the Found Footage Festival, with hosts Joe Pickett and Nick Pruner presenting Quarantine Qlassics; the Saturday Morning All-You-Can-Eat Cereal (At Home) Cartoon Party, featuring three hours of animated weirdness compiled by director Kier-La Janisse; and three different shorts packages.

If you’re looking for some CUFF outside of your own home, this year they’re offering up four drive-in theatre screening experiences at the Big Rock Brewery from June 24-27 — two showings of Canadian actor-director Jay Baruchel’s Random Acts of Violence, and Synchronic and Uncle Peckerhead, the latter of which will also be available online. (Note from CUFF: “strict social distancing will be enforced and no alcohol will be served. Advance ticket sales only – no sales at the door.”)

And as with previous CUFF’s, there will be Q&A’s after some of the live screenings — please check their website at calgaryundergroundfilm.org for the full list of films and interactive opportunities.

There, if your a resident of Alberta, you can also purchase tickets for the festival, which are $10 each or $8 for members students and seniors, with all-access online passes for $119, and the option of five-film multi-packs for $35 (passes and multi-packs do not include the drive-in screenings).

And when you’re done your CUFF home viewings, you can also vote on their site for a number of different festival awards.

Calgary Underground Film Festival runs June 22-28. For tickets and more information go to calgaryundergroundfilm.org.