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Dive into the blood-soaked underbelly of  Gwar in director Scott Barber's This Is Gwar.
Dive into the blood-soaked underbelly of Gwar in director Scott Barber's This Is Gwar.

CUFF.Docs Film Fest Serves Up Highly Digestible Documentaries 

A hybrid model with multiple viewing options, these are our 2021 picks unleashed. 

by Christine Leonard

If you’ve got big time series binge fatigue there’s nothing better to cleanse the viewing palate than a fresh perspective from a one-off documentary. RANGE has surveyed some of the 21 feature films and 20 shorts being presented by the Calgary Underground Film Festival during their CUFF Docs Documentary Film Festival. 

A cavalcade of provocative and intriguing motion pictures from around the world,  this year marks the festival’s first in-cinema viewing opportunities in two years. “Almost all films benefit from the shared experience of watching in-cinema,” says  CUFF’s lead programmer Brennan Tilley. “We are looking forward to seeing these films with audiences and have a few tricks up our sleeve to elevate the festival experience people expect from CUFF.”

From the front row of a blood-soaked Gwar concert to behind the scenes of the real-life kids who inspired Larry Clark’s 1995 cult classic Kids, here are our top flick picks that promise to raise your meta-IQ without being drier than reading the manual for your new office printer. 

This is GWAR (Director: Scott Barber)

The ultimate “You had to be there!” band. GWAR has been spewing forth their unholy brand of misanthropic space metal since the 1980s and nothing, not even the cold grip of death, has managed to stand in the way of their pursuit of intergalactic domination. Part rock opera, part slasher film and all irreverent decadence, GWAR has racked up a discography as impressive as the puppet body count at one of their live performances. Director Scott Barber dives deep into the band’s fetid underbelly to unearth interviews and archival footage that define the satirical thrash juggernaut that has unloaded more bodily fluids on stage than Meatloaf.

CANADIAN PREMIERE • 110 min. (United States)


Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time (Directors: Richard Weide and Don Argott)

If you’ve ever enjoyed the works of American literary giant Kurt Vonnegut Jr., or consumed a breakfast of champignons, then you’ll know what it means to have passed through the strange dimension known as Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum and the lingering effects it can have on the mind. A story that has been 39 years in the telling, this biographical survey expands on Vonnegut’s novel Universe along with the relationship between the legendary fiction writer and the young filmmaker, Weide, who began his attempts to capture the intangible genius on celluloid starting back in 1982.

CANADIAN PREMIERE • 127 min. (United States)


Luchadoras (Directors: Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasim)

Go behind the sparkling mask and witness the battles fought by a trio of female Luchadoras wrestling their way to la buena vida (the good life). No strangers to danger, these high-flying mujeres face their biggest struggles outside the ring as they dream of rising above the violent streets of Ciudad Juárez. Fierce, fiery and fueled by a passion for the fight, the threesome pursues super “El Santo” stardom while challenging a culture built around celebrating Mexican machismo.

ALBERTA PREMIERE • 92 min. (Germany, Mexico)


We Were Once KIDS (Director: Eddie Martin)

It was the first time many of us had seen underage sex, kids inhaling whippets and the untold torment of teenagerhood depicted on the big screen in such a realistic fashion. Director Eddie Martin gets at the core and cast of the groundbreaking fictional account of NYC skateboarders adrift in a 1990s emo-scape. Thrust into the spotlight for better or worse, the individuals behind the KIDS’ key characters would go on to thrive or perish thanks to the fame (and infamy) that was a side effect of their involvement with Larry Clark’s 1995 cult classic.

CANADIAN PREMIERE • 91 min. (Australia)


Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched (Director: Kier-La Janisse)

Founder of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, Kier-La Janisse makes her directorial debut with this lingering look at the history of horror stories and the ancient myths that birthed them. A spine-tingling chronology of cautionary tales and primitive beliefs, Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched untangles the common threads that run between the realms of the living and the other side of midnight. Reflecting on the modern romance with the folk horror genre, Janisse’s master class casts a fell spell that traces the hero’s journey into the heart of darkness.

ALBERTA PREMIERE • 193 min. (United States)

This year’s festival is a hybrid model, with films playing at Globe Cinema and online. Most selections will be available to stream on-demand and will also play once at Globe. There are a few exceptions where a film may only stream online or only play in-cinema. Tickets for all films (online and in-cinema) cost $10 ($8 for members, students & seniors) and are on sale now. $40 Five Film Packs and Passes ($89-$99) are also available.

More information at: https://www.calgaryundergroundfilm.org/