The $100 Film Festival
A Brief History

The Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF) was founded in 1978 by twelve local filmmakers and artists in response to a growing interest in film production and to meet an emerging need for equipment and resources.  The CSIF was the first media arts centre established in Alberta that still exists, a testament to its ability to respond to its community and evolve while remaining true to its mandate.

Over the years, CSIF has continued to stay ahead of technological changes.  Editing facilities changed from a Steenbeck to digital suites in the late 1990’s.  The combination of traditional and digital filmmaking facilities expanded to the inclusion of a 16mm optical workprinter and a Super 8 digital transfer machine. Both the traditional and digital equipment banks continue to be used extensively by CSIF members.

In response to the growing trend to video and digital technology, the CSIF created the $100 Film Festival in 1992.  Intended as a showcase for film as an affordable and exciting medium, the popularity of the festival has grown year after year.   The first year showcased eight short films on Super 8mm and the name sprung from the challenge to local artists to shoot a short film on four rolls of Super 8 – which tallied to the cost of $100 for film and processing.  In following years, the festival dropped the budgetary limit and allowed 16mm film into the festival, which shifted the focus of the festival from low-budget to the quality of the small-format film medium.   The festival is now an international celebration of celluloid.

Small format film (like Super8 and 16mm) is much more accessible to independent filmmakers because of their lower cost relative to larger format film (like 35mm). This makes the types of works showcased the festival more in line with underground independent cinema, with greater focus on creative storytelling, minimal sets and artistic intention than is usually seen in industry style cinema.  The requirement to finish to film also means that the festival showcases mainly films where the artist purposely decides to finish to film as part of the artistic intent.

The focus on celluloid makes the $100 Film Festival one of only a handful of festivals in the entire world that exhibits exclusively on small-format film.  There are very few festivals in the world that showcase their entire festival on film – we are one, 8fest (Toronto), the One Take Super 8 (Regina) and Straight 8 (UK) are the others.   There are some festivals that showcase some of their programs on Super 8 & 16mm film, but also screen other formats as well.  Festivals like Black Maria, The Rotterdam International Film Festival and Images Festival fall into this category, but once again are some of only a few festivals in the world left that screen on small format film.

In March 2012, we will be celebrating the festival’s 20th Anniversary and will hosting some exciting expansions to celebrate this milestone.


The Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers is an inclusive, non-profit, arts-based society that exists to encourage film making as art, reflecting and challenging our changing cultural landscape through production and exhibition of the Filmmaker.  We exist to help people make films by offering workshops, equipment rentals, edit suites, information services and arts programming, including the $100 Film Festival.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it called the $100 Film Festival?

The Festival originally started in 1992 as a Super 8 Film Festival.  Even then, people were complaining that film was dead, so the event started as a challenge for local artists to make short films on Super 8.  At the time, four rolls of Super 8 and processing cost $100.  Thus the name.  After a few years the festival expanded its mandate to include 16mm film, which blew the budget out of the water, but the name remains, as does the dedication to the art of film!



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"If I find a film dull, I find it infinitely more entertaining to watch the scratches."
-Norman McLaren

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