Full seats for CIFF — film festival sets new attendance record

It was a record-breaking year for the Calgary International Film Festival, with 36,693 attending 211 films at seven venues, and 30,037 casting ballots for audience favourites.

36,693 movie-goers attended 211 films, a bump of 4% over last year

Calgary International Film Festival executive director Steve Schroeder on the 2016 event. 0:59

It was a record-breaking year for the Calgary International Film Festival.

A record 36,693 moviegoers — a bump of 1,516 over last year — took in the 211 films screened at seven venues across the city, including the newly opened Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre.

"The increase was evident in so many ways, including multiple sellouts of screenings and higher sales of 10- and 20-packs of tickets," said CIFF executive director Steve Schroeder.

"But overall what struck us the most was the audience's continued excitement in celebrating film of all genres from Alberta and around the world, and enthusiasm for engaging with our visiting filmmakers."

And a record 30,037 ballots were cast by audience members to choose winners in six categories:

  • The American Epic Sessions — Audience Award, Best Documentary
  • The American Epic Sessions — Discovery Award, Best Documentary
  • Burn Your Maps — Audience Award, Best Narrative
  • Pushing Dead — Discovery Award, Best Narrative
  • Pickle — Audience Award, Best Documentary Short
  • 90 Degrees North — Audience Award, Best Live Action/Narrative Short

"The amazing audience reaction and overall feedback about the films this year put smiles on all our faces," said CIFF programming manager Brenda Lieberman.

"The films that won were part of that same buzz, and stood out in many ways. It would have been tough for our programmers to choose favourites, but we are so extremely happy for the filmmakers winning the awards today."

Guests flew in to the event from around the world, including Allison McGourty, producer and screenwriter of The American Epic Sessions.

"To receive the 2016 CIFF Discovery Award ... is very humbling, especially as we have seen so many great films while we have been here at the festival," she said.

"It's such an honor to come to Canada and be welcomed with so much enthusiasm by the Calgary International Film Festival and by all the people who came out to watch American Epic."

With files from Evelyne Asselin