Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi featured in film

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi can now add one more accomplishnent to his resume — movie star.

Calgary International Film Festival movie highlights social media campaign

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi takes questions from reporters after the Friday world premiere of @nenshi4mayor at the Calgary International Film Festival. (Katy Anderson/CBC)

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi can now add one more accomplishment to his resume — movie star.

The "kid from Marlborough" is featured in @nenshi4mayor, a documentary about Nenshi's rise to the mayor's office and his use of social media to engage voters.

"Sitting in the front row and seeing it on a giant screen, I kind of thought a new hairstyle is needed," he said after the world premiere of the film at Calgary's John Dutton Theatre on Friday. The screening was part of the Calgary International Film Festival.

Kidding aside, the Harvard grad and Mount Royal University professor said he thought the film had a universal message.

"It's not really about me, I'm just sort of the face in front of it. It is the story of a community that really starts to understand, not only that they can dream a different future for themselves, but that politics is a way for them to achieve that future."

'I think [Nenshi's] a born movie star. Hugh Grant's got nothing on him.'— Salimah Kassam, Nenshi campaign volunteer

The film documents how Nenshi went from having the support of just one per cent of Calgarians in a July poll, to capturing 30 per cent of decided voters — tied with Barb Higgins and just three points behind Ric McIvor — in the last poll taken before the municipal election.

His win made him the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city. 

Salimah Kassam, a member of the Nenshi campaign's 'Purple Army,' said it was rewarding to see all the drama of  the election battle laid out on the silver screen.

"I think [Nenshi's] a born movie star. Hugh Grant's got nothing on him."     

When asked what she did as a campaign volunteer, Kassam replied: "What we all did, get him elected."

Nenshi will celebrate one year in office on Oct. 18.

The made-for-TV film was produced by Pyramid Productions.


Katy Anderson

Reporter | Editor

Katy Anderson is a reporter and editor with CBC Calgary. She has worked as a journalist on and off over 15 years and is currently a PhD student at the University of Calgary, where she researches internet policy and social movements. You can reach her by email at or on Twitter @KatyAnderson.