The 2021 Hot Docs Festival will take place this year April 29 – May 9, 2021. 13 Special Presentations were announced today, some featuring very well-known subjects. The Documentary Festival will use an at-home VOD platform this year in adapting to the Pandemic.
Some of the Films just announced:
7 YEARS OF LUKAS GRAHAM
D: René Sascha Johannsen | P: Sara Stockmann | Denmark | 2020 | 77 mins | International Premiere
Danish band Lukas Graham has an uncanny ability of setting audacious goals and achieving them, but after scoring a hit with “7 Years,” Grammy nominations and a world tour, success and fame may have them changing their tune.
ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE
D: Theo Anthony | P: Jonna McKone, Sebastian Pardo, Riel Roch-Decter | USA | 2021 | 109 mins | Canadian Premiere
Exploring the connections between technology, vision and power, this Sundance prize winner offers an illuminating investigation of ever-increasing surveillance technologies, exposing the complexities of objectivity and the biases inherent in both human perception and the camera lens.
BEHIND THE HEADLINES
D: Daniel Andreas Sager | P: Marc Bauder | Germany | 2021 | 90 mins | North American Premiere
For the first time, cameras embed with the German investigative unit that broke the explosive Panama Papers story, following the journalists’ pursuit of the truth behind the political assassination of a Maltese reporter and yet another history-making financial scandal.
COME BACK ANYTIME
D: John Daschbach | P: Wataru Yamamoto | Japan | 2021 | 81 mins | World Premiere
Experience a year in the life of a self-taught Japanese ramen master, who considers his legendary noodle shop more than just a livelihood but his life, and his die-hard customers more than just regulars, but true friends.
CRACK: COCAINE, CORRUPTION & CONSPIRACY
D: Stanley Nelson | P: Stanley Nelson, Cameo George, Naimah Jabali-Nash, Keith Brown, Nicole London | EP: Marcia Smith | USA | 2020 | 90 mins | Special Screening
A cheap, powerful drug emerges during a recession, igniting a moral panic fueled by racism. Acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Nelson explores the complex history of crack in the 1980s. Includes exclusive Q&A with Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award recipient Stanley Nelson.
THE DEATH OF MY TWO FATHERS
D: Sol Guy | P: Stine Chrone Moisen, Sol Guy, Travestine Guy – Tuggle | USA | 2021 | 84 mins | World Premiere
The filmmaker turns the experience of watching videotapes that his terminally ill father recorded into an unforgettable contemplation of race, death and the importance of family, composed as a letter to his own children.
D & P: Daniel Sivan | Israel | 2021 | 100 mins | World Premiere
At the elite level, bridge—the world’s most popular card game—becomes a million-dollar cut-throat business. When the best competitive player is accused of cheating, the ensuing scandal confounds experts, criminal science, celebrities and basic belief in this hilarious true-crime thriller.
D: Peter Nicks | P: Sean Havey | USA | 2020 | 90 mins | International Premiere
The resilience and optimism of Oakland High School’s 2020 senior class is captured in verité footage and social media videos as they confront anxieties over test scores, growing demands for social justice and the unprecedented uncertainty of a rapidly spreading pandemic.
D: Andrea Nevins | P: Rebecca Evans, Carolina Groppa, Ross M. Dinerstein | USA | 2021 | 88 mins | International Premiere
Hysterical is a backstage pass into the lives of the hilarious, boundary-breaking women shattering stand-up comedy’s glass ceiling. Featuring Margaret Cho, Fortune Feimster, Marina Franklin, Nikki Glaser, Jessica Kirson, Sherri Shepherd, Iliza Shlesinger, and more. Premiering on FX Canada this summer.
IN THE SAME BREATH
D: Nanfu Wang | P: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn | USA | 2021 | 95 mins | International Premiere
Nanfu Wang’s (director of One Child Nation, winner of Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize) searing investigation into COVID-19’s origins and spread exposes not only a global crisis of misinformation, but the leadership that misled the world about a still-unfolding emergency.
D: Benji Bergmann, Jono Bergmann | P: Karol Martesko-Fenster | Austria, USA | 2021 | 76 mins | International Premiere
Revolutionary Canadian designer Bruce Mau reveals truths that have shaped his long and expansive career, from designing sustainable platforms to social movements. His way of seeing could be just what’s needed in this critical time in history.
MISHA AND THE WOLVES
D: Sam Hobkinson | P: Jürgen Buedts, Poppy Dixon, Al Morrow, Matthew Wells, Gregory Zalcman | UK, Belgium | 2020 | 88 mins | Canadian Premiere
Misha Defonseca’s 1997 Holocaust memoir about escaping the Nazis as a seven-year-old girl on foot across Europe with a pack of wolves took the world by storm. But when Hollywood comes knocking, an even more audacious story and darker deceptions come to light.
NIKE’S BIG BET
D: Paul Kemp | P: Corey Russell, Paul Kemp | Canada | 2021 | 80 mins | North American Premiere
Alberto Salazar was a coaching legend until his recent doping ban shocked the running world. Did his “Just Do It” attitude and questionable practices push the limits of human performance and technology too far?
PLAYING WITH SHARKS
D: Sally Aitken | P: Bettina Dalton | Australia | 2020 | 91 mins | North American Premiere
From filming Jaws’ near-lethal live scenes to saving a great white with her bare hands, underwater filmmaking legend Valerie Taylor faces her biggest challenge yet: fighting to conserve the world’s remaining sharks.
D: Pedro Kos | P: Shawnee Isaac-Smith, Kira Carstensen, Judy Korin | USA | 2021 | 103 mins | International Premiere
A group of pioneering nuns in 1960s Los Angeles stood up to the patriarchy in such revolutionary ways, demanding pay cheques, marching on Selma and making political pop art, they would change Catholicism and the face of faith forever.
THE RETURN: LIFE AFTER ISIS
D: Alba Sotorra Clua | P: Alba Sotorra Clua, Vesna Cudic, Carles Torras | Spain, UK | 2021 | 90 mins | Canadian Premiere
This provocative doc reveals the deeper stories that drove several women to uproot their lives in the West and join ISIS in Syria. Now, infamous and reviled in the media, they yearn for absolution and the homelands that bar their return.
ROCKFIELD: THE STUDIO ON THE FARM
D: Hannah Berryman | P: Catryn Ramasut | UK | 2020 | 91 mins | North American Premiere
Featuring candid interviews with rock legends Robert Plant, Ozzy Osbourne and Liam Gallagher, this is the unlikely tale of how two Welsh brothers turned their dairy farm into one of the most successful recording studios of all time.
D: Alessandro Rossellini | P: Raffaele Brunetti, Uldis Cekulis | EP: Philippa Kowarsky, Laura Michalchyshyn | Italy, Latvia | 2020 | 90 mins | Special Screening
In this fascinating look inside a complicated cinema dynasty, the eldest grandson of Roberto Rossellini, one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, picks up the camera for himself and explores his family history.
STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET
D: Marilyn Agrelo | P: Trevor Crafts, Ellen Scherer Crafts, Lisa Diamond | USA | 2021 | 107 mins | International Premiere
Featuring exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, this inspiring journey takes us inside the minds and hearts of Sesame Street creators, artists, writers and educators, who together established one of the most influential and enduring children’s programs in television history.
SUBJECTS OF DESIRE
D: Jennifer Holness | P: Jennifer Holness, Sudz Sutherland | Canada | 2021 | 103 mins | Canadian Premiere
A much-needed deconstruction of race and the power of beauty, this thought-provoking doc lifts up the experiences of Black women in a moment when beauty standards are undergoing a cultural shift towards embracing Black aesthetics and features.
THE TASTE OF DESIRE
D: Willemiek Kluijfhout | P: Olivia Sophie van Leeuwen | Netherlands | 2021 | 87 mins | World Premiere
In this poetic trip around the world, the oyster acts as metaphor for life’s passions and frustrations, linking stories of a New York burlesque dancer, French Michelin-starred chefs, a Swedish oyster diver, a Japanese pearl maker and a terminally ill English psychologist.
THROUGH THE NIGHT
D: Loira Limbal | P: Loira Limbal, Jameka Autry | USA | 2020 | 72 mins | Ontario Premiere
Working multiple jobs, desperate to make ends meet for their families, two New York mothers drop off their children at a 24-hour daycare centre run by a woman that binds the neighbourhood together.
D: Sagi Bornstein, Udi Nir | P: Christian Beetz, Sagi Bornstein, Udi Nir | Germany, Israel | 2021 | 75 mins | World Premiere
Seven young people from across the world were innocently uploading shiny bright 2020 plans when “virus” started trending. Over a year’s worth of real-time posts and massive reality checks chart their innocent optimism and surprising resilience to a global change no one saw coming.
WE ARE AS GODS
D: David Alvarado, Jason Sussberg | P: David Alvarado, Kate McLean, Jamie Meltzer, Jason Sussberg | USA | 2021 | 95 mins | Canadian Premiere
Environmental iconoclast Stewart Brand believes re-engineering woolly mammoth DNA and “de-extinction science” could reverse climate change. Is he an oracle envisioning a brave new world or will his controversial views cement him as eco-pariah?
WEWORK: OR THE MAKING AND BREAKING OF A $47 BILLION UNICORN
D: Jed Rothstein | P: Ross Dinerstein | USA | 2020 | 101 mins | International Premiere
Utilizing interviews with journalists, experts, high-ranking former employees and former members Wework: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn explores the rise and fall of one of the biggest corporate flameouts and venture capitalist bubbles in recent years—the story of WeWork, and its hippie-messianic leader Adam Neumann.
WITH DRAWN ARMS
D: Glenn Kaino, Afshin Shahidi | P: Glenn Zipper, Sean Stuart, Glenn Kaino, Afshin Shahidi | USA, Mexico | 2020 | 84 mins | International Premiere
When track star Tommie Smith and his teammate raised black-gloved fists at the 1968 Summer Olympics, their defiant gesture would reverberate through generations of civil rights activists. Fifty years on, the full breadth of his impact—and depth of his sacrifice—is revealed as America still reckons with racial injustice.
WHO WE ARE: A CHRONICLE OF RACISM IN AMERICA
D: Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler | P: Jeffery Robinson, Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Andrea Crabtree-Keller, Vanessa Hope, Susan Korda, Katharine Nephew, Jayashri Wyatt | USA | 2021 | 117 mins | International Premiere
Interweaving lecture and personal anecdotes, ACLU deputy legal director Jeffery Robinson draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of post-racial America.
D: Yung Chang | P: Peter Luo, Donna Gigliotti, Diane Quon | USA | 2021 | 90 mins | World Premiere
With unprecedented access to Wuhan, China, at the peak of the pandemic lockdown, award-winning director Yung Chang looks beyond statistics and headlines to reveal the emotions and resilience at the core of our shared humanity.
More updates to come March 23, 2021. Here for more.
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