Four can’t-miss entries at this year’s Calgary International Film Festival

Friday 18th, September 2015 / 17:04
By Joel Dryden, Jonathan Lawrence and Jennie Orton


How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town

Giving hope to small town sluts everywhere, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town follows the somewhat rare adventure of a girl returning to her hometown, where her formative years were fodder for gossip – only to find the folks she left behind have developed a desire to experiment and are looking to her for help.

“I’m from a small town and I could just instantly imagine all those awkward interactions with people you’ve known your whole life. All those natural conflicts,” director Jeremy Lalonde says (who also directed 2013’s Sex After Kids).

Lalonde crowdfunded the project with two very successful campaigns and managed to secure not only his target funding, but a rich and diverse ensemble cast.

Starring the likes of Lauren Holly, Jewel Staite and Mark O’Brien, the film owes much of its charisma to not only Lalonde’s very well-received script but also the collaborative atmosphere he fosters with his actors.

“I like to cast people that are smart and give lots of smart notes about their characters,” he says. “Smart actors are always gonna bring way more to the part – they are going to think about them in ways that you would never think about them.”

The collaborative nature extended to the supporters who helped fund the project. Between Telefilm and Indiegogo, Lalonde not only raised the funds for the whole production but also the capital necessary to curate music supervisor Eli Klein’s soundtrack. Music by Sloan, The Deadly Snakes, Paper Lions, No Sinner, Hooded Fang and Yes Nice accompany the comedic tale of sexual awakening and self-discovery. The support of donators is an honour not lost on Lalonde.

“They become this amazing army of support,” he says.

Being the second film he has funded this way, Lalonde is familiar with the long range of this kind of backing.

“They are the first line of support, they follow you the whole way,” he says. “Treat them really well and respect them for what they bring and what they’ve done to make your film possible and they will reward you with their loyalty and support.”

How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town plays at the Globe Cinema Sept. 30, 7 p.m. (18+ showing,) and Oct. 2, 4:45 p.m. (JO)

The Glamour and the Squalor

Many people are familiar with the well-documented factors that any emerging band owes their rise to stardom to: touring tirelessly in a van, selling their own T-shirts, maybe even opening for KISS. But how many people consider the influence that radio has on a band’s success; especially in a pre-Internet/social media world where music information wasn’t as ubiquitous? And how many would consider the actual person behind the voice from the radio stations, the spokesmen of budding music trends, and the influence that they had?

The new documentary from director Marq Evans, The Glamour and the Squalor, will illuminate the influence that radio personalities can have on music trends. In particular, the legendary rock DJ Marco Collins from Seattle’s 107.7FM, whose musical sensibilities and dedication to breaking new artists contributed heavily to the rise in popularity of grunge and alternative rock in the early 1990s. He was the first DJ in the country to debut Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and one of the first to play Foo Fighters and Weezer. And those bands are a little well known.

More than just a voice from the radio waves, Marco Collins was a rock star in his own right, partying hard with Kurt Cobain and other Seattle musicians. But eventually the good times caught up to him, in what he describes as “the beginning of the squalor.” He struggled with coming out in a time that wasn’t as accepting and had a complicated relationship with his father.

Evans assures that there’s a “lot there for people to get pulled in by whether they are into the music or not.”

The Glamour and the Squalor is not just a music history lesson: it’s a story of ups and downs, successes and failures. It’s the story of a man who, despite his struggles, completely re-shaped the music landscape and paved the way for numerous bands that are loved and revered still today.

At the end of the day, Evans said he hopes that the film will be entertaining, but admits that there have been people after every screening who revealed how much it meant to them.

Whether you’re a fan of music or an honest depiction of real characters, this won’t be a film to miss at the Calgary International Film Festival this year.

The Glamour and the Squalor plays at the Globe Cinema Sept. 26, 9:45 p.m. (18+ showing,) and Oct. 3, 3:45 p.m. (JL)


Stephen Charles Fonyo, Jr., born in 1965, lost his left leg to cancer at age 12. Following in Terry Fox’s footsteps, he started a marathon called the “Journey for Lives” to raise money for cancer research in 1984 – about four years after the “Marathon of Hope.” Fonyo raised $14 million and was later named an Officer of the Order of Canada – the youngest person awarded the honour.

But his life after that was marked by trouble with the law – from brandishing a weapon to multiple instances of impaired driving, Fonyo’s later troubles had his Order of Canada revoked in 2009.

When director Alan Zweig (When Jews Were Funny) heard about this, something about it “stuck in his head.”

“It was as if the Government of Canada was telling him, ‘Sorry, but your life has gone so far downhill we have no choice but to officially recognize it,’” he says. “That’s what got me thinking about doing a film about him. I had a long period of failure in my own life and I developed a lifelong interest in stories of downward spirals.”

Hurt profiles Fonyo’s struggles later in life and is set to play this year’s Calgary International Film Festival. Zweig said though he didn’t want to “jinx it,” that the film contains moments which are “unlike anything they’ve ever seen onscreen.”

“With any film I make, I always hope that however specific the story has been, it will make people think about their own lives and the lives of those closest to them,” Zweig says. “Though very few of us have experienced the hero’s journey that Steve Fonyo has lived, nonetheless I think there’s something in his story for all of us.

“And to speak specifically of this film, I hope people walk away from this film with some understanding of Steve’s struggles.”

Hurt plays at Eau Claire Market Cineplex Sept. 26, 6:45 p.m., and Sept. 27, 1:30 p.m. (JD)

Alberta Spirit Gala

The Calgary International Film Festival brings with it The Alberta Spirit Gala again this year, a series of Albertan-produced short films. A $2,500 cash prize will be awarded following the screening as determined by a live jury.

Shorts included this year are:

• Tim Petros in Passion, directed by Jaimie Stewart

• Markowsky Draws in Fighter Plane, directed by Michael Peterson

• Haiku 4: Still, directed by Lyle Pisio

• Flanagan, directed by Olivier Ballou

• Hello World, directed by Olaf Blomerus

• The Hitch-hiker, directed by JP Marchant

• Stock, directed by Gabriel Yee

• Do You See Me? directed by Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi

BeatRoute spoke with two of the participating entrants, Michael Markowsky (Markowsky Draws in Fighter Plane) and Jaimie Stewart (Tim Petros in Passion).

In the aptly-named Markowsky Draws in Fighter Plane, Michael Markowsky gets the chance to ride in an F-18 and sketch the horizon as part of the War Artist program. The Calgarian artist and his friend, director Michael Peterson (Lloyd the Conqueror), filmed the experience as part of Markowsky’s 20-year art practice of “making art while travelling through landscapes.”

The two men set out to “create a story of this unlikely marriage of an artist and the military.”

The film puts you in the stunning hot seat of a ride most people will never experience, viewed through the eyes and pen of an artist who wants to show the world the beauty of trajectory and the forceful presence of a dying war machine.

“(The) first time I saw the film it brought back all the things I felt when I was on the plane. I connected so viscerally,” Markowsky says.

Markowsky’s self-professed authority complex kept him out of the cadets, but led him to the back of an F-18 anyway, thanks to his artistic innovation. This is what has made Alberta cowboy country for much of its history and what will lend itself well to a night of exciting film at this year’s CIFF.

Tim Petros in Passion, directed by Jaimie Stewart, is part of a series entitled People in Passion, short documentaries about local individuals “who are successfully doing what they love in life.”

“I want people to simply feel what it means to be ‘in passion’,” Stewart explains. “To feel that internal dedication to what you know you want to pursue in your life.”

The short follows Petros, a former Calgary Stampeder, as he prepares and serves food to guests with care and devotion at Tim’s Gourmet Pizza.

“One of the things I noticed him saying was that when he was a kid he always knew where he would be in regards to his career later in life,” Stewart says. “I’ve heard this said by many successful people – I think there just might be something to that.”

The Alberta Spirit Gala takes place on Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at Theatre Junction GRAND. (JO)

For full festival listings, visit

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