Generation Next at CIFF 2022

The Cause

The Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) is a not-for-profit charitable organization that screens and celebrates films from around the world in its annual festival and year-round programming. The fall festival is the largest event of its kind in Alberta and the sixth-largest in Canada, bringing 35,000 film fans together for remarkable and engaging cinematic experiences. The 22nd Calgary International Film Festival takes place on the traditional territories of the Treaty 7 region.

Developed in partnership with local school boards, and open to all Calgary-area schools, Generation Next was first launched at the 19th annual Calgary International Film Festival in September 2018. Each year, the series features up to six youth-focused films selected by high school previewers. With guidance from CIFF's professional programmers, Calgary youth get to decide which of this year’s films - selected from around the world - are the most relevant and important to their generation. The films are then screened as part of the festival’s lineup as well as special screenings for high school students in-cinema or in the classroom.

Early on, in our work with local school boards, a need was identified for increased visual literacy in an ever-evolving world of new media and digital-based communication. Specifically, research showed that students in provincial Grade 12 diploma exams did not exhibit sophisticated visual literacy skills. Generation Next directly impacts the development of these skills by providing the opportunity for critical analysis both inside and outside the classroom. Youth develop visual literacy through the guided exposure to a variety of perspectives and experiences from films brought in from all over the world.

Due to public health concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the Calgary International Film Festival adapted our programming to offer a hybrid model of in-cinema and digital, in-class offerings. In the effort to prioritize the health and safety of our audience by limiting capacity at in-person screenings, Generation Next for high school students moved entirely to the classroom. We learned that the ability to offer our programming digitally in the classroom opened up the accessibility of the program to students and schools who may not otherwise be in a position to participate due to geographic, cultural or financial barriers.

Who Will it Benefit?

The support of the Field Law Community Fund will go towards our efforts to make the program accessible to a diverse high school audiences across Calgary and Southern Alberta. Generation Next offers innovative ways of learning that appeal to technology and screen-driven youth. The program provides formal educational opportunities inside and outside the classroom, helps enhance visual literacy skills, empowers youth and provides an introduction to the screen industries as a potential career path.