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‘You get to be a part of the cultural zeitgeist’: Flying Sailor Academy Award nominees present in Calgary for CIFF Oscar Shorts

Calgarians will get a chance to rub shoulders with a pair of Academy Award nominees in February, as Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby join audiences for a showing of their nominated animated short The Flying Sailor.

That film, along with other Oscar-nominated animations, live-action, and documentary films are being shown by the Calgary International Film Festival during their fourth annual Oscar Shorts presentation.

The festival began a partnership with the Academy and Magnolia Pictures in 2019 to show the nominated films, but this will be the first year that actual nominees will be present to interact with audiences.

“We’ve never ever had a guest for these Oscar-nominated shorts, so this is brand new ground for us and we’re so excited that it’s going to work out to actually have the Oscar-nominated filmmakers in the room,” said Brian Owens, artistic director for CIFF.

“What I’ve always found too, is that there’s more of an emotional impact when one of the creators in the room with you, and now the audience that comes to this, gets to experience that.”

Forbis and Tilby are returning to Calgary after a successful showing of their National Film Board of Canada-produced film at Sundance.

“There’s an extra level of pride I think when you get to say I sat with the people who made that, and I think people will want that feeling—it’s just it’s an amazing feeling to have,” Owens said.

On offer from CIFF are three packages that include live-action shorts, animated shorts, or documentary shorts. Each package will be screened twice during the festival weekend.

Tickets can be purchased for individual packages, or can be purchased for a discounted price for all three. All of the showings will be at the Globe Theatre.

You saw it at CIFF first

The Flying Sailor premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival but had its second showing and western North America debut at the Calgary International Film Festival.

Owens said that getting to see something first, or close to first, before it makes the big-time festivals like Sundance or getting an Oscar nomination, was one of the great things about CIFF.

He pointed out another pair of CIFF shown films Triangle of Sadness and Women Talking also were shown in September, far before the award season.

“It’s just so cool to know that if you come to the festival, you get to be a part of the cultural zeitgeist, basically,” he said.

Owens likened the CIFF Oscar Shorts weekend to travelling the world.

“What’s amazing when you put all three [packages] together, you’ve got films from the U.S., India, Russia, Luxembourg, Norway, Italy—there’s actually one of the live-action films was shot in Greenland, and the animation comes from obviously, Canada—Portugal, and Australia, there’s literally like a one weekend trip around the world within these films,” he said.

He said that CIFF was also arranging the order of the films to be as family-friendly as possible, but that not all of the films would be appropriate for all ages.

For the animation package, the screening would be taking a short break before director Sara Gunnarsdóttir’s film My Year of Dicks, to allow families with young children to leave.

The 2023 Oscar Shorts animation package will be showing The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by directors Peter Baynton and Charlie Mackesy; The Flying Sailor by Calgary directors Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby; Ice Merchants by director João Gonzalez; An Ostrich Told Me the World is Fake and I Think I Believe it by director Lachlan Pendragon, and My Year of Dicks by director Sara Gunnarsdóttir.

The live-action package includes An Irish Goodbye by directors Tom Berkeley and Ross White; Ivalu by director Anders Walter, Le Pupille by director Alice Rohrwacher; Night Ride by director Eirik Tveiten; and The Red Suitcase by director Cyrus Neshvad.

The documentary shorts package will be showing Haulout by directors Maxim Arbugaev and Evgenia Arbugaeva; How Do You Measure a Year? by director Jay Rosenblatt; The Martha Mitchell Effect by director Anne Alvergue; and Stranger at the Gate by director Joshua Seftel.