The Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) unveiled its 2020 lineup on Tuesday with more than 175 films to be screened including a documentary about an iconic Black cowboy who settled in Alberta more than a century ago, a documentary about climate change activist Greta Thunberg and Viggo Mortsensen's directorial debut.
The festival is adapting to COVID-19 health and safety protocols with a hybrid of both in-cinema screenings and streaming movies.
More than 90 of the movies on its roster will be in-cinema feature films and shorts package screenings, where theatre admissions will be limited to 30 per cent capacity, with extra time between shows for thorough cleaning.
"We're going to create that in-cinema experience as close as we can because once the lights are down and you're focused on the screen it's about you and the movie," said Brian Owens, CIFF's artistic director.
"But we know not everyone is comfortable going out so the biggest change is bringing 75 per cent of the films into people's living rooms."
More than 160 of the festival's films will be available to stream online — and those films will also be made accessible to three provinces for the first time.
Owens says it was a challenge at the beginning of the pandemic but over time they started looking at new ideas and made the decision to also showcase films in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
"We looked at it as an opportunity for expansion…. We potentially see that when things go back to normal that maybe we can partner with people across the plains and do a bricks and motor cinema tour," he told The Homestretch.
"Or if we are still in COVID mode we will keep the expansion open and make it available for people in Alberta and the plains."
In a press release, Owens said that their mandate was to also showcase diversity behind and in front of the camera — which is present in every section.
"This year's hybrid festival has given us the opportunity to grow in so many ways, there is an occasion for those who haven't been able to join us in the past, especially with our virtual screening expansion into the rest of Alberta and into Saskatchewan and Manitoba."
Alberta documentary John Ware Reclaimed among premieres
The lineup includes films such as Viggo Mortsensen's directorial debut Falling and a documentary about young climate change activist Greta Thunberg called I Am Greta.
It also will include the premiere of a feature documentary about an iconic Black cowboy who settled in Alberta before the turn of the 20th century, John Ware Reclaimed, by Cheryl Foggo, an award-winning, Calgary-born filmmaker.
"It basically sets the story straight about who the real man was versus the legend that grew up around him over time, " he said.
Owens says that the lineup will also feature over 100 Alberta submissions and be called "Alberta Spotlight."
"We had 111 films from Alberta filmmakers submitted this year which as far as I know is a record and as a result we're having one of the largest local lineups." he said.
CIFF's 2020 Behind the Screen series will feature live conversations with Stranger Things actor Finn Wolfhard and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back writer Lawrence Kasdan.
The festival is set to run from Sept. 24 to Oct. 4.
A full listing of films along with ticket information can be found on the organization's website.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.