#HOTDOCS: 2016 HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL PREVIEW
By Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
It’s the most nonfictional time of the year.
With the kids all Hot Doc’ing
And everyone tell you to watch a Documentary.
It’s the most nonfictional time of the year!
Well, while they haven’t started writing carols to celebrate North America’s largest Documentary Film Festival, it’s only a matter of time. Starting on April 28th and running through May 8th, the Canadian International Documentary Festival is eleven days great nonfiction programming featuring the best Documentaries from over all over the world.
One of Toronto’s most accessible Film Festivals, Hot Docs prides itself on offering free daytime screenings to seniors (60+) and students. This year, they will also be offering close captioning and described audio at select screenings at both the TIFF Bell Lightbox and Scotiabank Theatre.
As Toronto gears up for Hot Docs here are some of our top picks for the Festival:
LEAGUE OF EXOTIQUE DANCERS
Directed by Rama Rau, the Opening Night Film features some of the best burlesque dancers of their day. Their day may have been a few decades ago but these ladies are artists of highest caliber. The Movie opens in Las Vegas at an induction ceremony for the Burlesque Hall of Fame and quickly sets the tone for a raunchy 90 minutes of fun and sequins. Using recent interviews and archival footage the audience is taken on a journey through the heyday of burlesque through to its sad downturn when strip clubs started demanding more pole dancing and nudity and less artistry. Rau is careful never to mock her subjects and treats them with unfaltering respect.
Thursday, April 28 at 9:45 p.m. Bloor Cinema
Friday, April 29 at 1:30 p.m. TBLB
After clowns and aerialists retire from the circus they still close their eyes and dream of performing. Although their days flying through the air are often left behind due to injury or old age, their thirst for applause is more difficult to forget. In the tight knit community of Sarasota, Florida, these former circus-folk become family to one another and learn to apply the skills they learned in the ring for a new audience.
Warning: Not for people who suffer from coulrophobia.
Friday, April 29 at 9:15 p.m. TBLB
Sunday, May 1 at 1:15 p.m. Scotiabank
Saturday, May 7 at 1:00 p.m. Scotiabank
AIM FOR THE ROSES
Two artists who struggled for years to realize their dreams, the lives of Canadian daredevil Ken Carter and composer Mark Haney are intertwined through music. Carter’s dream of jumping the St. Lawrence River in a jet-powered car inspired Haney to write an album retelling the trials Carter suffered trying to make his dream a reality.
Sunday, May 1 at 7:15 p.m. Scotiabank
Monday, May 2 at 1:15 p.m. TBLB
Friday, May 6 at 1:00 p.m. Scotiabank
GOD KNOWS WHERE I AM
After leaving a healthcare system that continued to fail her, Linda Bishop survived for months on little more than apples and rain water in an abandoned farmhouse in New Hampshire. Her poignant story is revealed through diary excerpt and interviews.
Saturday, April 30 at 9:15 p.m. Scotiabank
Monday, May 2 at 12:15 p.m. TBLB
Saturday, May 7 at 9:30 p.m. Scotiabank
THE INCOMPARABLE ROSE HARTMAN
A woman described as “A Rose with many thorns,” Rose Hartman is a documentary photographer whose work is immediately recognizable. In an age when a woman standing up for herself was considered abrasive, Hartman proved herself to be in a class of her own taking photos of celebrities long before paparazzi became a byword amongst the elite.
Wednesday, May 4 at 9:00 p.m. Isabel Bader
Friday, May 6 at 11:00 a.m. Isabel Bader
Saturday, May 7 at 9:15 p.m. Fox Theatre
Rebellion can take many forms. Susanne Regina Mueures’ Film introduces you to Anoosh and Arash, two young men who use music to escape the tyranny of the new Iranian regime. Dessert raves become a form of rebellion as Anoosh and Arash fight back against a system that tells them “if your music is political they’ll execute you.”
Sunday, May 1 at 4:15 p.m. Scotiabank
Tuesday, May 3 at 3:15 p.m. TBLB
Saturday, May 7 at 7:00 p.m. TBLB
What if earth were simply a ship travelling through the galaxy and we were its crew? This Sarah Polley-narrated documentary challenges the viewer to look at the environment as an ever changing planetary species that we must care for before we destroy it forever. With interviews from scientists around the world, Kevin McMahon’s latest documentary pulls no punches as it confronts the human and environmental costs of everything from fossil fuels to apathy about the fate of the arctic.
Saturday, April 30 at 9:15 p.m. TBLB
Sunday, May 1 at 12: 30 p.m. Isabel Bader
Saturday, May 7 at 10:00 a.m. Bloor Cinema
The story of first mass shooting in the United States is told through animated recreations of first-hand witness accounts. This powerful documentary is sets the scene at the University of Texas where 16 people died as the result of one man’s actions on August 1, 1966.
Director Keith Maitland doesn’t use his platform to preach about gun control but instead paints a picture of both the victims and heroes of that day. From the opening scenes where a young, pregnant girl is shot walking with her boyfriend to the ongoing reports from a radio journalist on the ground, the Film draws the audience in and doesn’t let go until long after the credits have stopped running.
Sunday, May 1 at 9:30 p.m. TBLB
Monday, May 2 at 1:00 p.m. Isabel Bader
Friday, May 6 at 3:15 p.m. Hart House
UNDER THE GUN
While many documentaries struggle for years with small budgets and little outside support, Stephanie Soechtig’s latest Film did not. Executive produced and narrated by Katie Couric, the Movie already has distribution in the States through Lionsgate and yet will likely still have to fight an uphill battle for viewership.
As the Movie opens, the following chilling statistic is shared: “By the end o this Film 22 people will be shot and 6 will die.” Perhaps more chilling is that the day I saw this Movie the first notification I had on my phone after the screening was about yet another mass shooting in the States.
Somewhat manipulative and one-sided, this movie will make everyone think twice about the NRA and gun control in the States. Discussing everything from right to carry rifles into the local supermarket to laws that continue to tie the hands of the ATF, the filmmaker makes no apologies about which side of the gun control debate she sits on.
Tuesday, May 3 at 3:15 p.m. TBLB
Thursday May 5 at 9:30 p.m. Bloor Cinema
Sunday, May 8 at 9:30 p.m. Regent Cinema
Stay tuned in the coming days for reviews on more great documentaries coming to Hot Docs!
FULL SCHEDULE here.