#HOTDOCS: BEST-OF 2017 HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL
Another Hot Docs has come and gone and we thank David Baldwin and Siobhán Rich who have given us some outstanding coverage of the Festival. Even if you’ve missed a chance to screen some of the Films at Hot Docs, there still remains the hope you will get to see these at some point in the near future. David and Siobhán give us some of their top picks from the Festival this year.
DAVID BALDWIN’S BEST-OF 2017 HOT DOCS:
Documentaries have always been a genre of interest, but never a primary go-to. In previous years, I would take in one or two Films at Hot Docs – but this year I upped the ante and caught 15. It may not seem like much to Hot Docs veterans or those terrifying individuals who bought All-Access passes, but it is a larger number than I ever imagined I could pull off. And after being steeped in Documentary Film for the past 11 days and a few weeks prior, all I keep thinking is how fascinating the Films were to watch – no matter if they were good or bad.
The complex variety of topics and interview subjects was simply staggering, and the amount of preparation that went into getting some of the footage shown was mindboggling. Where did these documentarians find the time to cull through all of this archived footage to put together their theses? How many sources did they need permission from to use it all? The journalist in me was delighted to watch such elaborately detailed pieces unfold on-screen and inspired me to think up some ideas for my own Documentaries.
While I was a big fan of 78/52, Becoming Bond and Gilbert pre-Festival, here are a few other Films you will want to remember and check out over the coming months:
Chasing Coral – alongside Bill Nye: Science Guy, there was a passionate push at this year’s Festival for people to combat climate change. The footage captured here of coral bleaching and death on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was heartbreaking and downright horrifying to watch. These images will be seared into the back of my mind for years to come, and will only get worse if nothing is done – or worse, if we keep letting climate change deniers continue to tell us nothing is wrong. The sheer amount of work that went into getting these images is just incredible, and the contrasting beauty of the coral that live is pure movie magic.
Elián – I remembered vague details about Elián González’s arrival in the United States in the fall of 1999, but not much more. Whether you are like me or remember so much more, Directors Tim Golden and Ross McDonnell have composed an exhausting portrait of the media firestorm this boy set off within the United States and Cuba. They interview many of the main players in the story – including a much older Elián – and do an incredible job depicting the historical significance Elián had on both countries. It is admittedly a slow-burn of a Film, but when all hell starts breaking loose, you will not be able to look away.
Mommy Dead and Dearest – in an age where I am literally shocked by so little, this Documentary kept me wide-eyed for nearly the entirety of its 82-minute running time. The story of a young woman involved in the death of her mother is morbid enough, but it takes a bizarre turn when we find out this able-bodied woman was previously confined to a wheelchair and had a laundry list of physical ailments that required constant supervision and medications. And it only gets stranger from there. Director Erin Lee Carr’s Film is a frustrating must-see, if only to watch how easy it is for the truth to be manipulated.
SIOBHÁN RICH’S BEST-OF 2017 HOT DOCS:
It seems like only yesterday we were encouraging you to visit the Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival during its eleven-day run. With over 200 Films to choose from, we were certain you’d find at least a few to love as much as we did. Hopefully our recommendations got you into the theatre and helped guide you toward some of the best Films programmed this year.
Since there wasn’t enough time to see everything even for doc lovers like ourselves, we thought we’d share a few more titles you should keep an eye out for over the coming months.
Last Men in Aleppo – is a title I am positive you will hear about come Oscar time. Director Feras Fayyad takes the audience on a harrowing journey into the lives of Syria’s White Helmet volunteers. The visceral images of their work are nothing less than haunting. From pulling children out of the rubble of bombed buildings to helping each other through personal dilemmas, the bravery and selflessness of these men will stay with you for weeks.
Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World – will be playing at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema this summer and should be required viewing for all music fans. From Jimi Hendrix Guardians of the Galaxy the influence of First Nations musicians is everywhere and Catherine Bainbridge shines a long overdue light on these talented men and women.
You’re Soaking in It and Pre-Crime make excellent bookends on the subject of data-mining. The former looks at how big business manipulates us based on things we didn’t know we told them. Big Data uses everything from our web searches to our Facebook likes to create marketing campaigns mathematically incapable of failing. On the other side of the coin, Pre-Crime gives that same information to governments and the police to help them determine who may commit a crime based on their clicks. Both Films look at the same phenomenon in vastly different lights and will have you wiping your browser history and logging off your iPhones posthaste.