Saturday 08th, June 2013 / 19:57
Matt Porterfield's I Used To Be Darker follows a northern Irish runaway who reunited with her American relatives.

Matt Porterfield’s I Used To Be Darker follows a northern Irish runaway who reunited with her American relatives.


We’re in luck: the film program for Sled Island is ran by a team of passionate film enthusiasts who are evidently madly in love with bringing culture to our beautiful city. Sled Island is Calgary’s premiere music and arts festival, which is now, if you can you believe it, in its seventh year. I met up with Jeanette Burman, the festival’s film programmer and coordinator, to discuss this year’s phenomenal line-up of film events which can be accessed with a Sled Island Festival $30 film pass, or with the purchase of a Festival Discovery Pass, Plus Pass or an All-Ages Pass (keep in mind that some film events are 18+ only).

We first sat down at the busy 17th Ave Starbucks and decided to take our interview outside on a bench in Tomkins Park. It is May long weekend, and it is hard to believe Sled Island is only a month away. What’s really exciting is that films will run from June 18 to June 25, a day before and three days after the end of the music festival dates, which run from June 19 to 22, to allow more room for programming, Burman explains. Burman has been involved in Calgary’s film scene for about 10 years and is in her fifth year coordinating and programming film with Sled Island.

“The festival has grown in the past five years and the film program is growing along with it. We have more programmers and more people working on the program than ever before. It’s really awesome for the festival and I think it is made this year’s program really amazing,” she says.

Sled Island Film is collaborating with the National Music Centre, the Glenbow Museum and the University of Calgary Film Society for the first time and is continuing partnership with the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers and the Calgary Underground Film Festival.

Artists Kyle Thomas and Alexander Carson from Calgary-based North Country Cinema will be guest film curators and have selected “a truly outstanding collection of international shorts” for this year’s program. Additionally, they will present an artist talk and workshop, Q&A to follow, focusing on “balancing creative goals and financial restraints, regional film practices, and challenges and advantages to building an art-cinema scene in Calgary.”

I Used to be Darker, an independent American film about an Irish runaway (played by Canadian actress Deragh Campbell) who seeks refuge at her aunt’s and uncle’s in Baltimore will be one of the many films enjoying either their Canadian or Albertan premiere at Sled Island Film. It co-stars Kim Taylor and Ned Oldham who are musicians in real life and in the film. A Q&A with the film director and visiting cast members is scheduled post-screening. Taylor will also be performing as a solo artist at the festival.

Burman is equally passionate for music as she is for film and says “programming films about music or that pay attention to music in a unique way” is a natural fit for her, including Bill Callahan’s Kerouac-esque tour diary, Apocalypse: A Bill Callahan Tour Film.

“Although [Sled Island Film] started very music focused, we have evolved, too, but we continue to keep music, independent cinema, unique visions and artist discovery at the heart of our programming, all in the spirit of Sled Island,” she says.

As a film enthusiast myself, I’m super excited for Museum Hours, the story of a guard at a Viennese art museum who befriends an “enigmatic” visitor which leads to an exploration of life intermingled with art, SUNNS Europe 2011, an on-tour compiled footage of the Montreal-based band Sunns’ tour in Europe with themes of “spectacle, voyage and identity,” Sign Painters, a documentary on hand-lettered sign making (how cool is that?), and The Selected Work of Emily Kai & Evan Prosofsky in which I’m looking forward to Prosofsky’s documentary, Waterpark, on the Edmonton wave pool, of all places. And count me in for a ride down to the Simmons Building in East Village for the Secret Cinema Bike-In with CSIF in which the film-to-be-screened will be announced the day of, and after-parties at Milk Tiger Lounge.

See you by the silver screen!

Sled Island Film will run from June 18 to June 25 at various locations across the city. Film-specific wristbands are $30 and get you into all Sled Island films. For more information, check out, or download the program guide.

By Claire Miglionico