Board members and Central Alberta Film Festival volunteers pose following the award ceremonies last year at the Scott Block. This year’s Festival runs Feb. 20th-23rd at the Carnival Cinemas. Red Deer Express file photo

Central Alberta Film Festival (CAFF) gearing up for annual showcase

Event runs Feb. 20th-23rd at Carnival Cinemas

Staff and volunteers with the Central Alberta Film Festival (CAFF) are thrilled to launch this year’s line-up of compelling films Feb. 20th-23rd.

Besides international films, this year’s screenings, to be held at Carnival Cinemas, will also feature Canadian, Albertan, and local films that are among the, “Cream of the crop,” said Tanya Mullakady, CAFF communications director.

This year marks the third edition of the Festival which organizers describe as a bridge between the audience, critics and the contemporary filmmakers who want to showcase and discuss their work.

“There is such a variety of films; there’s really something for everyone,” she said, adding that plenty of the features have consistently sparked lively conversations as well. “The team that is putting it together is also amazing,” she said. “I can’t be appreciative enough of them because they just work tirelessly.”

Alberta productions include Rise: Story of the Augustines (Calgary), Cor Values (Central Alberta), The Last of the Fur Traders (Edmonton) and Prairie Dog (Lethbridge).

Rise: Story of the Augustines had two sold-out screenings at the 2018 Raindance Film Festival in London and won the Audience Choice Award at the 2018 Santa Cruz Film Festival. The screening at CAFF will be the critically-acclaimed film’s Canadian premiere, said Mullakady.

It’s no easy process nailing down the final list of what will be presented.

“We have a selection committee and judges, so they go through them and let the cream rise to the top,” she said. “There are people from different niches in film production that look critically at each of the films. They have about 10 different criteria that they judge with and then they select the ones that have the highest overall scores.

“That’s what it comes down to.

“We also really like to promote films that are local to Central Alberta,” she said. “We have quite a few which are (from) Red Deer and area, so it’s kind of unique to see those blossom. We also have some from a little further afield, for example on the last night just before the red carpet is Making Coco: The Grant Fuhr Story.”

Meanwhile, the aformentioned Cor Values was filmed primarily in Red Deer and the surrounding area, said Mullakady.

According to Cor Values’ Director, Gilbert Allan, one of the goals when making the film, “Was to use as much local talent as possible for cast and crew, and we are proud to say 100 per cent of our crew and cast are Canadian with every single one having connections to Alberta,” noted a release.

Mullakady also pointed out that this year’s Festival host, Rachel Stillings, is featured in one of the short films called Emily. Other not-to-be-missed highlights include A Girl, A Boy, A Penny and a Very, Very, Very Long Road; Barren and Empty Sea and From Seed to Seed.

Besides the main feature presentations, there are also ‘Inspirational/Sports Shorts’, ‘Cultural Shorts’, ‘Horror/Suspense Shorts’ and ‘Mature Drama Shorts’ among others.

There are lots of other fun things to check out too including the CAFF Smartphone Film Challenge which was created and designed to be a film challenge for everyone from amateur to professional filmmakers ages 10 and up.

All films had to be shot using only smartphone cameras and accessories.

There is also the CAFF 48-Hour Film Challenge, where all creativity had to take place during the official time period.

This included everything from rehearsing, costume/set design, writing the script and shooting to editing and sound design. Mullakady said these kinds of projects are a joy to watch and can serve as a vital source of inspiration to emerging filmmakers, too.

“They get that encouragement – you can take this further! It’s a fun start to the whole festival,” she said.

Meanwhile, a full schedule can be found at and tickets can be purchased in advance at for features, full festival access, as well as a special screening and the awards ceremony.

“Lots of people who come to the Festival are pretty blown away that these are not Hollywood productions. The quality and the topics they take on has a value for culture and society.

“Every story has a bigger story.”

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