#HOTDOCS: 2019 HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL PREVIEW
The 2019 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival kicks-off this Thursday, April 27 and runs through Sunday, May 5, 2019, giving Film lovers a chance to see over 200 Documentaries. It is expected that this year’s audience will exceed 200,000 with an array of fascinating guests to visit the City including Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Mr. Toilet, John Cleese, Ai Weiwei, Gordon Lightfoot and more!
Highlighting the Festival this year are AFTER PARKLAND which examines the lives of students who survived the Parkland shooting; ASK DR. RUTH gives us a candid look at the life of the famed Sex Therapist; ASSHOLES: A THEORY looks at the Psychology of well, assholes; DRAG KIDS follows a group of pre-teens brought together by their love for Drag; GORDON LIGHTFOOT: IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND centers on the famed Canadian Singer/Songwriter; HUMAN NATURE received tons of buzz out of Sundance and looks at the new phenomenon of Gene Regulation; MR. TOILET: THE WORLD’S #2 MAN follows Jack Sim‘s quest to raise the standards of toilets worldwide; and Contemporary Artist and Activist Ai Weiwei directs THE REST.
Our Amanda Gilmore (@GilmoreAmanda) and George Kozera (@PartyG) had the chance to preview some of the most-buzzed Films of the Festival and here are some of their Reviews, including when and where to see the Films:
This documentary follows UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing Leilani Farha in her quest to define housing as a fundamental human right.
Director Fredrik Gertten does a tremendous job of getting ample amounts of information regarding city housing crisis’s across multiple continents, including North America and Europe. With the push of middle to low-income classes out of cities and into more rural neighbourhoods, this doc raises important questions about what cities are going to be in the future and who they will be for. Push isn’t just a great Doc, but is also shot beautifully. Gertten aids his story by creating a dreary atmosphere by having many cities establishing shots displaying low-grey clouds and rain.
Push screens at Hot Docs on Fri, April 26 at 9:15PM at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, Sat, April 27 at 4PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, Wed, May 1 at 1PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, and Sat, May 4 at 9:15PM at Hart House Theatre.
Toxic Beauty examines the effects of everyday cosmetics on the internal health of our bodies.
Director and Writer Phyllis Ellis has created a shockingly informative Documentary that will change the way men and women use their beauty products. Through rigorous interviews, class-action lawsuits and scientific studies this documentary delves deep into what is in our products and what effects they have on our health. It’s a mind-opening and possibly life-changing Film that is essential viewing.
Toxic Beauty screens at Hot Docs on Mon, Apr 29 at 12:45PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, and Thu, May 2 at 5:45PM at Scotiabank Theatre 3.
Advocate follows Israeli Human Rights Lawyer Lea Tsemel who has defended Palestinians against an array of criminal charges.
Directors Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche flip between two recent cases Tsemel was working on and prominent cases she took on during her fiveJ decades of work. In doing so, they create an in-depth and balanced look into the daily, gruelling tasks Tsemel, and her family, face. Tsemel states that she is always a loser in the cases she takes on, however, if she is able to get a lesser sentence for her clients then she really is a winner. This doc shows how people from opposite sides can come together and work to help each other.
Advocate screens at Hot Docs on Sun, April 28 at 6PM at Scotiabank Theatre 4, Mon, April 29 at 3:30PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, and Sun May 5 at 6:15PM at Isabel Bader Theatre.
Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World
This Documentary follows citizen journalists who work at Bellingcat, the “home of online investigations” and their resourceful investigative tools that expose untruthful information to international news stories.
Living in a post-truth world that has government officials fabricating news stories, is our frightening reality. Yet, this Documentary helps put us at ease knowing there are volunteer citizens who are using everyday social media tools to help uncover those government lies. Director Hans Pool paces this steadily with his behind-the-scenes access into every day, under-the-radar heroes who work at Bellingcat, resulting in a captivating watch.
Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World screens at Hot Docs on Tue, Apr 30 at 9:15PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, Wed, May 1 at 1PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, and Fri, May 3 at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.
Well Groomed follows a few American creative dog groomers and their quest to win both regional and the top-ranked grooming competition.
Director and Writer Rebecca Stern is documenting the artistry that goes into creative dog grooming and the passion behind those who do it. In that sense, this is a universal story of doing what one loves and hoping to one day be rewarded for it. Stern carries this Film along with a steady and often fun pace, however, she does leave some questions unanswered along the way.
Well Groomed screens at Hot Docs on Thu, Apr 25 at 8PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, Fri, Apr 26 at 12:45PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, and Sat, May 4 at 10:15AM at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.
Take Me To Prom
This Documentary short follows LGBTQ+ Canadians from different decades telling their prom stories.
Take Me To Prom is a beautiful Film that shows us how far we have come for the right of the LGBTQ+ community, but also shows there is more progress to be made. The stories from the handful of people are entirely unique from each other and leave a lasting impact. It will be hard for another to not be moved by this Short Doc.
Take Me To Prom will screen ahead of My Dads, My Moms and Me at the Hot Docs Film Festival on Wed, May 1 at 7PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3, and Sat, May 4 at 10AM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3.
Knock Down The House
This powerful Documentary follows some of the women, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and more, who were running for Congress during the 2018 race.
Director Rachel Lears gives us a behind-the-scenes look into the challenges and struggles that many women running for Congress were facing. Everyone loves an underdog story and Lears plays-out this Documentary as an underdog story. Mostly because these women and their stories really were the underdogs and many were and still are rooting for. Knock Down The House is a timely look into American politics and the call for change that was beginning to happen.
Knock Down The House screens at Hot Docs on Sun, Apr 28 at 6:15PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, Mon, Apr 29 at 4PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, Fri, May 3 at 6:30PM at Fox Theatre, and Sat, May 4 at 1PM at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.
Because We Are Girls
Because We Are Girls follows three sisters who endured childhood rape, sexual assault and trauma from a relative.
The Film documents one Punjabi-Canadian family and their dark secrets that stem from their toxic family culture. However, this Doc speaks to the experiences that many women and men have experienced no matter their familial background. It’s an extremely hard to watch documentary due to the unflinching stories these women tell, but one that has a powerful message for this and future generations.
Because We Are Girls screens at Hot Docs on Wed, May 1 at 6:15PM at Scotiabank Theatre 4, Thu, May 2 at 1PM at Scotiabank Theatre 13, and Fri, May 3 at 6PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2.
Waad al-Kateab has documented the uprising in her home city of Aleppo for decades and threads all the footage into this beautiful documentary, dedicated to her daughter.
Directors al-Kateab and Edward Watts take an unflinching look at the horrific conflict in Aleppo and the effects it has on those caught in the crosshairs. There are many scenes that are gut-wrenching to watch and will leave a wounding effect on your heart for years to come. No matter how hard it is to watch it’s a must-see and one of the most impactful of the Festival.
For Sama screens at Hot Docs on Mon, Apr 29 at 9PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3, Tue, Apr 30 at 12:30PM at Hart House Theatre, and Sun, May 5 at 12:45PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3.
The Corporate Coup D’Etat
This Documentary examines the past two decades in American democracy and how the corporations behind the scenes, may be the ones running the show.
This in-depth study of Corporatism leaves no stone unturned, offering ample amounts of information and captivating interviews. Director Fred Peabody doesn’t only document the reality we are faced with, he forces viewers to question what part they have within our immediate reality. Therefore, resulting in an enthralling Film that has the power to change the way we think.
The Corporate Coup D’Etat screens at Hot Docs on Mon, Apr 29 at 9:30PM at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, Tue, Apr 30 at 10AM at Isabel Bader Theatre, and Fri, May 3 at 12PM at Hart House Theatre.
This heartwarming documentary shows the everlasting bond and love between service dogs and their owners.
Director Heddy Honigmann has many subjects who all have distinct stories, which makes each narrative insightful and impactful. Although the Film has the most adorable and impressive service dogs as a focal point, it’s the owner’s vivid and moving personal commentary that leaves the lasting effect.
Buddy screens at Hot Docs on Fri, Apr 26 at 3:15PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, Sat, Apr 27 at 3PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, and Tue, Apr 30 at 10:30AM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3.
Assholes: A Theory
This Documentary is inspired by the novel of the same name written by Aaron James and examines what it means to be an asshole.
Director John Walker in the voice of legendary John Cleese, has given us all a gift with this hilarious and insightful look at the different meanings of being an asshole. Although it may sound like all fun and games, Walker takes a closer look at the negative global and social impacts, which cause a ripple effect, of those people who are assholes. In doing this, he gives us an explanation for why our society is the way it is while offering up solutions to help change it.
Assholes: A Theory screens at Hot Docs on Tue, Apr 30 at 7 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, Wed, May 1 at 3:45 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, and Sat, May 4 at 12:45 PM at Isabel Bader Theatre
Killing Patient Zero
During the beginning of the AIDS-crisis in North America, there were doctors and researchers trying to figure out where exactly the disease came from. What they inaccurately came to the conclusion of was that the person responsible for spreading AIDS throughout North America was a male flight attendant from Canada.
Director and Writer Laurie Lynd has brought this powerful story of a particular time in our history to the screen in an eloquent way, all while honouring the life of one man who didn’t deserve the blame that came his way. Lynd does this through captivating interviews and old footage from the 70s and 80s. Overall, this Documentary looks at uplifting and harrowing stories from that time which evokes a range of emotions.
Killing Patient Zero screens at Hot Docs on Fri, Apr 26 at 8:30 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, Sat, Apr 27 at 12:30 PM at Scotiabank Theatre 4, and Fri, May 3 at 2:45 PM at Hart House Theatre.
Edge of Democracy
Edge of Democracy follows the journey of Brazil’s rise out of Dictatorship to Democracy only to find that same Democracy being taken away from them.
This Documentary takes it’s time to explain the history of Brazil’s politics, which is needed to help audiences understand the importance of what is happening right now. Although it takes its time there isn’t a moment that the doc feels too long. The in-depth look at the importance of democracy and how easy it can be taken away makes for an importance viewing experience.
Edge of Democracy screens at Hot Docs on Thu, Apr 25 at 5 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, Fri, Apr 26 at 12:30 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, and Sat, May 4 at 1:15 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1.
This Documentary follows the family of one woman as the matriarch separates from the patriarch due to decades of abuse.
Director and Writer Valentina Primavera picks up her camera and gives a personal account of her family’s experience. Due to this deeply personal story the doc evokes immense emotions ranging from joy, anger and sadness. The themes within Una Primavera will resonate with many because it’s a story that has affected many. Due to that, it makes those who have experienced something similar with their family to feel a little less alone.
Una Primavera screens at Hot Docs on Mon, Apr 29 at 9 PM at Scotiabank Theatre 8, Wed, May 1 at 4 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, and Sat, May 4 at 12:45 PM at Scotiabank Theatre 3.
Framing John Delorean
At one point in his life, John DeLorean seemed to have it all. Rich and handsome. Poised to be the next head of General Motors, then, the most important company in the world. His third marriage to Supermodel Cristina Ferrare, with whom he has two children, is strong and passionate. He decides to leave GM and start his own revolutionary automobile company and designs a car now famous for being featured in Back to the Future. There were many financial hardships and on October 18, 1982, DeLorean was arrested by the FBI for trafficking cocaine in a videotaped sting operation. Framing John DeLorean wants us to figure out if he was framed or was he a mastermind criminal. The documentary is filled with interviews from his friends and co-workers and the insight they provide are fascinating. Where this Movie falters greatly is with its numerous filmed re-enactments starring Alec Baldwin as DeLorean as well as Josh Charles, Morena Baccarin and Dean Winters. I really didn’t care what Baldwin thought of DeLorean or how he approached the acting role and would have preferred that the Filmmakers spent more time with DeLorean’s son, Zack, who comes across tragic and angry.
Framing John Delorean screens at Hot Docs Wed, May 1, 9:15PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, and Fri, May 3, 6:30PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Always in Season
When young Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in Bladenboro, North Carolina in 2014, the local officials deem it to be suicide, but his family and friends are convinced he was the victim of lynching. Not only does Director Jacqueline Olive investigate this matter in Always in Season, she also films an annual re-enactment of the slaughter of an African American family in Monroe, Georgia in 1934 as well as gives us an oral history of lynching in the southern States for over a century when it was not unusual for members of a town to be invited to attend a “Hanging Bee”. Not only is this Documentary provocative comprehensive in what it shows on screen, it will sadden and infuriate that this barbaric ritual still occurs regularly in the Christian south. This is a searing Documentary that will stay with you for days afterwards.
Always in Season screens at Hot Docs on Sun, Apr 28, 6:15PM Hart House, Tue, Apr 30, 12:45PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox, and Sat, May 4 6:30 PM at Hart House.
On the Inside of a Military Dictatorship
Despite being imprisoned for years and labelled a pariah by the male ruling and military class, when winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi, was overwhelmingly voted into power in Myanmar in 2015, the world believed she could bring stability to a country rocked by violence and corruption. Whereas On the Inside of a Military Dictatorship touches on many issues plaguing her, including ethnic cleansing violence between Buddhists and Muslims, This Documentary fails to keep the interest of the audience mostly due to the monotone of the Narrator (and Director) Karen Stokkendal Poulsen, its “talking heads” motif and redundant and repetitive interviews, it will appeal greatly to Political Sciences students and followers.
On the Inside of a Military Dictatorship screens at Hot Docs on Fri, Apr 26, 8:15 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Sun, Apr 28, 12:15PM at Hart House, and Thurs, May 2, 12:15PM at Scotiabank.
The Wandering Chef
Have you ever hiked deep inside a forest, overturn a huge boulder and wonder if the moss growing underneath would make for a tasty soup? Not only does acclaimed celebrity Korean Chef, Jiho Im, do that as well as with other ingredients we mere mortal would step on or ignore, he travels these woods helping elderly farmers with their chores and cooks meals for them that are delicious with medicinal healing powers. Still affected emotionally due to the death of his strong maternal figure, Im’s relationship with an 88-year-old frail farmer is the crux and beautiful beating heart and soul of The Wandering Chef. This charming Documentary may even make you want to chew on some roots you find buried deep in gravel, especially after you watch him lovingly prepare 108 dishes in 24 hours.
THE WANDERING CHEF screens at Hot Docs Wed, May 1, 6:30pm at Hart House, Thu, May 2, 3:00PM at Scotiabank, and Fri, May 3, 9:30PM at Isabel Bader Theatre.
Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man
One cannot watch this Documentary without a huge smile on your face for the most part. Jack Sim is out to solve the world’s sanitation problem as 40% of the world’s population does not have access to a room most of us take for granted. He has been hired to secure six million toilets to a region in India where the natives rather spend their money on cellphones or satellite dishes than having indoor plumbing. Women, in particular, need to find safe and secure outdoor places to relief themselves away from prying eyes and sexual assaults that occur on a daily basis. Mr. Toilet uses many means in its cinematic options to make their case. Humorous movie puns abound and animated sequences are interspersed with frightening statistics. Jack Sim is passionate and eccentric to boot – interviews with his wife and children are hysterical. This Documentary is an entertaining must-see, especially for those who give a “crap”!
Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man screens at Hot Docs Sat, Apr 27 at 5:45PM at Scotiabank, Sun, Apr 28, 1:00PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, and Sat, May 4, 8:30PM at Fox Theatre.
Take three boys and one girl, all between the ages of nine to eleven, who love dressing up and performing in drag and you have one of the most fascinating and entertaining documentaries ever filmed about this still relatively underground subculture. Drag Kids not only is unique as it features preteens overcoming obstacles to pursue their passion for performing, it delves into the relationships between parents and children and the bullying their children experience at times. It also takes us deep into the world of competitive Vogueing which is prominently featured in critically-acclaimed TV series POSE.
The children are insanely talented, eloquent and compelling to watch especially when they get overly excited whether it is over a pair of heels or Rice Krispie squares. The parents are unconditionally supportive and protective and the predominantly Lady Gaga tunes will have your toes tapping. You must check out Drag Kids, it is fab…u…lous!
Drag Kids screen at Hot Docs on Sunday, Apr 28 at 6:15 at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Tuesday, Apr.30 at 1:15 at TIFF Bell Lightbox and Friday May 3 at 3:45 at TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Find Tickets here.
(Photo credit: Hot Docs/Mr. Will Wong)