#HOTDOCS: MOST-ANTICIPATED FILMS AT THE 2021 HOT DOCS FILM FESTIVAL
The 2021 HOT DOCS FESTIVAL runs April 29 to May 9, 2021. Taking-on a virtual format this year, bringing the Festival home to Festival Goers. Make no mistake though, just because the Festival can be enjoyed at home doesn’t meant the quality of this year’s events and Films are compromised. If anything, this perhaps is one of the strongest years in recent memory with several high-profile Documentaries set to premiere including STREET GANG: HOW TO GET TO SESAME STREET, Edgar Wright‘s THE SPARKS BROTHERS and Sundance Award-winning SUMMER OF SOUL and several more. All Films go live starting at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 29, 2021 on the online platform.
Our Justin Waldman and George Kozera share their most-anticipated Films of the Festival with us.
GEORGE KOZERA (@PartyG)
There is a wealth of great Documentaries available for screening this year at HOT DOCS. When asked what were my Top Five movies I was most excited to see, I was in a conundrum. There are just too many to choose from. So, to make it easier on myself and, let’s face it, these times are stressful enough without more added pressure, I am submitting my list of Documentaries that are solely focused on the arts and the entertainment community.
1. SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED) – Questlove’s directorial debut about the six-week- long Harlem Cultural Festival held in 1969, a stone’s throw away from Woodstock, has every fiber in my being, every cell in my body twitching with excitement. Part-music concert, part-historical record on Black History, this winner of two awards at Sundance is so up my alley. Musical performances from Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and Gladys Knight and the Pips are but a few of the names who sang on stage. All I can say is that I am thrilled to watch this at home as I’m sure my standing up to dance to the music and sing along would scare those seated around me. This Special Presentation will be streamed May 5th.
2. FANNY: THE RIGHT TO ROCK – This all-girl Rock Band was definitely ahead of its time and inspired many female musicians to pick up guitars and drums and play like and with the big boys. I was a fan obsessed with their music and talent and relished the thought of knowing more about their music, struggles and what they are currently doing.
3. THE ROSSELLINIS – Cinema has many family dynasties: The Hustons, the Barrymores, the Fondas, and the Coppolas to name but a few. But my knowledge about the Rossellinis is sketchy at best. I have seen some of acclaimed Director Robert Rossellini’s work, know of his marriage to Ingrid Bergman and, of course, there’s the hauntingly beautiful Isabella. But this Documentary, from Roberto’s grandson Alessandro, sounds to fascinating to pass-up.
4. THE SPARKS BROTHERS – Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve ever consciously heard any music from these two brothers or seen them ever perform on TV. But I follow Director Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Baby Driver) on Instagram and his enthusiasm for his directorial Documentary debut is downright infectious. And isn’t that why we watch documentaries…to learn new things?
5. 7 YEARS OF LUKAS GRAHAM – I’m not sure where or how I first heard the song “7 Years”, but I was impressed enough to check it out on YouTube and became a fan of Lukas Graham. This is an admirable, no holds barred, warts and all Documentary on the rise of this talented group from Denmark. Its honesty must be applauded.
1. STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET – Let’s be real, who doesn’t love Sesame Street? The Carol Spinney Documentary from a few years ago brought me to tears, and being able to have a further in-depth look into Sesame Street is a definite must see!
2. THE SPARKS BROTHERS – Edgar Wright, yes that him (!) directed a Music Documentary. If you’ve ever seen an Edgar Wright movie, lets be real who hasn’t, then you know how much care and effort he puts into his soundtracks. If you love good music, great storytelling, and a pair of wacky brothers, then The Sparks Brothers is for you.
3. SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED) – If you’re not excited for this incredible-looking Documentary directed by Questlove that won the hearts of everyone at Sundance, then I don’t know what to tell you. This is one of my most anticipated Documentaries of the entire Festival, and I CANNOT wait to get to see this beautiful work of art.
4. HYSTERICAL – Margaret Cho, Fortune Feimster, Nikki Glaser, Iliza Shelsinger – is there anything else that needs to be said to get you hyped to watch a Documentary on some of the FUNNIEST women on the planet? Sit back, laugh whole-heartedly, and learn the inside of the business with this wonderful Documentary.
5. WEWORK: OR MAKING AND BREAKING OF A $47 BILLION UNICORN -People were buzzing about this one in particular coming out of SXSW and since then it has skyrocketed to the top of my list. One of the more interesting looks into the capitalism bubbles we have seen lately, and Adam Neumann, specifically.
More here on tickets and titles.
Check back here for our Reviews.
#HOTDOCS: 2021 HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL LINEUP ANNOUNCED
The 2021 HOT DOCS FILM FESTIVAL lineup takes place April 29 through May 9, 2021 this year adapting to an online format amidst the pandemic. The Festival is comprised of a total 219 films from 66 countries in 12 programs, with 50 per cent of the Directors in the Festival program being women.
Scotia Wealth Management are back with their Big Ideas series and among the in-depth discussions to take place this year are those with: Australian Underwater Photographer and Conservationist Valerie Taylor (Playing with Sharks); the Filmmaking Team behind Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street; Singer, Songwriter and International Recording Artist Jully Black, author and Professor Cheryl Thompson and Director Jennifer Holness discussing the cultural shift in beauty standards that now embrace Black aesthetics, and how this impacts our understanding of race, power and the construction of beauty (Subjects of Desire); and Filmmaker Jed Rothstein, along with subject and Wall Street Journal reporter Maureen Farrell and subject and former WeWork employee Megan Mallow, sharing in a provocative discussion about what was going on behind the scenes of WeWork (WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn).
Special Presentations this year presented by Crave, also includes the international premieres of: 7 Years of Lukas Graham, an inspiring profile of Danish Vocalist and Multi-Instrumentalist Lukas Forchhammer, lead singer of the pop group Lukas Graham; With Drawn Arms, which takes audiences back to the 1968 Summer Olympics, when two track stars raised their black-gloved fists on the podium, and the impact of that gesture 50 years later; Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, which explores the legacy of white supremacy and our collective responsibility to overcome it, anchored by ACLU lawyer Jeff Robinson’s groundbreaking 2018 talk; Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street, which takes us inside the minds and hearts of the creators, artists, writers and educators of the enduring children’s program, Sesame Street; and Hysterical, a backstage pass into the lives of popular female comics, including Margaret Cho, Fortune Feimster, Marina Franklin, Nikki Glaser, Jessica Kirson, Sherri Shepherd, Iliza Shlesinger, and more, who are taking the male-dominated world of stand-up comedy by storm.
Timely presentations which display the Festival’s finger on the pulse, include world premieres of: Wuhan Wuhan, in which award-winning Filmmaker Yung Chang teams up with a group of intrepid Videographers as they capture life in the Chinese city during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic; The Death of My Two Fathers, an unforgettable contemplation of race, death and the importance of family inspired by videos the filmmaker watches that were recorded by his terminally ill father; The Taste of Desire, a philosophical and poetic trip around the world that uses oysters as a metaphor to explore humanity’s relationship with nature and desire; Dirty Tricks, a thrilling dive into the cutthroat world of competitive bridge playing, and the ensuing scandal that erupts after the world’s top player is accused of cheating; Come Back Anytime, a delectable Doc about self-taught Japanese ramen master, Masamoto Ueda, and his legendary Tokyo ramen shop, Bizentei; and Viral, which shows us COVID-19’s impact on today’s youth through the social media posts of seven young people.
Other Programs at the Festival include the Canadian Spectrum (which includes Hell or Clean Water, the fascinating story of a Newfoundland diver who dedicates himself to cleaning up the province’s polluted shores by himself); International Spectrum, World Showcase, Made in Colombia, Artscapes, Nightvision, Persisters, Markers, Systems Down, Changing Face of Europe and Deep Drive Programs, giving Festival Goers an eclectic mix to choose from.
More here on tickets and Films.
(Photo credit: Hot Docs)
#HOTDOCS: SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS ANNOUNCED FOR 2021 HOT DOCS
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.
#HOTDOCS: SPRING 2020 CURIOUS MINDS SERIES SPEAKERS ANNOUNCED
HOT DOCS’ CURIOUS MINDS Speaker Series brought to us by Hollywood Suite, goes digital this year and you will have the chance to hear about from some fascinating subject matter experts right from home. Selections this year include:
Spring 2020 Curious Minds digital courses:
THE AGE OF UPHEAVAL: THE 1920S AND 30S IN BERLIN, PARIS AND NEW YORK CITY
The years between World War One and World War Two marked some of the most influential social, cultural and artistic developments in modern history. This fascinating course will trace their emergence against a backdrop of political uncertainty and unrest, and the impact they had on three great world cities: Berlin, Paris, and New York City.
Led by Peter Harris, the former Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science of the University of Toronto.
FAMOUS LAST MEALS: SIX FEASTS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
From King Tutankhamen’s final funerary feast to John F. Kennedy’s biggest White House dinner, this delicious course will reveal how food has influenced decisive moments throughout world history, and reveal how the dishes served at these famous meals were shaped by changing tides in technology, politics, religion, warfare, and art.
Led by Dr. Laura Carlson, who holds a doctorate in History from Oxford University and has taught history, classics, and food studies at Queen’s University and Centennial College. Dr. Carlson is also the executive producer and host of award-winning podcast The Feast.
THE FOLK MUSIC REVIVAL
Beginning with the commercial breakthrough of Pete Seeger and The Weavers in 1950, this dynamic course will trace folk music’s early roots in the 19th and early 20th century—the field recordings of Alan Lomax and the protest songs of the 1930s—before moving on to assess the remarkable music and careers of ‘60s folk icons like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Ian and Sylvia, Peter, Paul and Mary, and more.
Led by Dr. Mike Daley, a music historian and professional musician who has taught at Guelph, McMaster, Waterloo and York Universities.
THE ROYAL FAMILY
Join Toronto Star Society Columnist—and avid Royal watcher— Shinan Govani as he breaks down the modern history of the one and only House of Windsor, bringing to life its most colourful personalities, its most opulent traditions and, of course, its juiciest scandals.
Led by Shinan Govani, a contributing columnist with the Toronto Star and a columnist for Hello! Canada. Both social chronicler and pop culture decoder, his writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Town & Country and The Daily Beast.
Registration for a six-week series is $49 ($33, $27, Free for Hot Docs Members; $33 for Hollywood Suite subscribers) and is available to purchase and stream here.
(Photo credit: Hot Docs)
#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)
#HOTDOCS: SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS ANNOUNCED FOR 2019 HOT DOCS FESTIVAL
The 2019 HOT DOCS Film Festival announced today 15 Special Presentations including international and world premieres. The 26th edition of the Festival runs April 25 to May 5, 2019. Documentaries include KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE, which centers on Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sundance Award-winning ALWAYS IN SEASON.
A list of Special Presentations:
D: Rachel Leah Jones, Philippe Bellaiche | P: Joëlle Bertossa, Paul Cadieux | Canada, Israel, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland | 2019 | 105 min | Canadian Premiere
As one of the few Israeli human-rights lawyers willing to defend Palestinians, Lea Tsemel has been defying hostility and vitriol from the public and press for nearly 50 years to fight for clients in a stacked system.
ALWAYS IN SEASON
D: Jacqueline Olive | P: Jacqueline Olive, Jessica Devaney | USA | 2019 | 88 min | International Premiere
The unresolved case of a Black teen found hanging from a swing set in North Carolina in 2014 is the lens through which this searing doc examines the lingering trauma of more than a century of lynching and continued racial violence.
ASSHOLES: A THEORY
D: John Walker | P: Ann Bernier, Annette Clarke, John Walker | Canada | 2019 | 81 min | North American Premiere
Inspired by the New York Times bestselling book, this lively philosophical investigation into the rise of asshole behaviour across the world asks: What does it mean to be an asshole, and more importantly, how do we stop their proliferation?
D: Heddy Honigmann | P: John Appel | Netherlands | 2018 | 86 min | Canadian Premiere
Master documentarian Heddy Honigmann turns her eye for authenticity and genuine interview to the complex relationships between service dogs and their owners. Witness canine humanity and life-altering trust at work in this observational marvel.
THE CORPORATE COUP D’ETAT
D: Fred Peabody | P: Peter Raymont | Canada | 2018 | 90 min | Canadian Premiere
Piercing insights from journalist Chris Hedges and philosopher John Ralston Saul dissect America at a troubling crossroads, exposing Trump’s MAGA doctrine as a symptom of a broken democracy where power now lies with corporations, not citizens.
THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY
D: Petra Costa | P: Joanna Natasegara | Brazil | 2019 | 112 min | Canadian Premiere
Featuring unprecedented access to former Brazilian presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva, the personal and political brilliantly combine in this unflinching exploration of one of the most dramatic and polarizing periods in Brazilian history.
D: Garry Keane, Andrew McConnell | P: Paul Cadieux, Brendan J. Byrne | Canada | 2018 | 90 min | Canadian Premiere
Fully blockaded and home to almost two million people, the Gaza Strip is portrayed in the news as the world’s largest open-air prison—but this rare immersion into everyday Palestinian life reveals the pressures of occupation and the humanity straining to flourish.
D: Adam Bolt | P: Sarah Goodwin, Meredith Desalazar, Elliot Kirschner | USA | 2019 | 107 min | Canadian Premiere
In a brave new world in which science fiction collides with fact and DNA sequences can be edited with ease, this provocative examination forces us to reconsider what it means to be human.
KILLING PATIENT ZERO
D: Laurie Lynd | P: Corey Russell | Canada | 2019 | 100 min | World Premiere
Skilfully revealing the homophobia behind the headlines, this doc traces the devastating impact of the 1980s AIDS epidemic and clears the name of the Québécois flight attendant who was infamously known as “patient zero.”
KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE
D: Rachel Lears | P: Rachel Lears, Robin Blotnick, Sarah Olson | USA | 2019 | 85 min | International Premiere
This rollercoaster ride follows four progressive women—including Bronx bartender Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—behind the scenes and in the streets as they grind through long-shot grassroots campaigns for Congress during the 2018 US midterms.
N. SCOTT MOMADAY: WORDS FROM A BEAR
D: Jeffrey Palmer | P: Jeffrey Palmer, Youngsun Palmer | USA | 2018 | 85 mins | International Premiere
The life and career of Pulitzer Prize–winning Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday, one of Native America’s most celebrated literary figures, is explored in this spiritual journey through the expansive landscapes of the West and New Mexico.
NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY
D: Elizabeth Carroll | P: Elizabeth Carroll, Dan Braun, Gina Abatemarco | USA | 2019 | 82 min | International Premiere
Dubbed “the Mick Jagger of Mexican cooking,” a 96-year-old firebrand chef who’s spent her career celebrating the country’s regional cuisines rushes to solidify her hard-earned legacy in the face of her own mortality.
D: Fredrik Gertten | P: Margarete Jangård | Sweden | 2019 | 92 min | North American Premiere
As skyrocketing housing prices and stagnant incomes squeeze families out of cities worldwide, a newly appointed UN specialist from Ottawa travels from Toronto to Barcelona to London and beyond, fighting to have affordable housing recognized as a human right.
D: Phyllis Ellis | P: Peter Raymont, Barri Cohen | Canada | 2019 | 90 min | World Premiere
Cancer, diabetes, developmental delays and more—the cosmetics industry’s ugly secrets are exposed through exclusive interviews with scientists, whistleblowers and consumer survivors who raise pressing questions about risks, regulations and the true cost of beauty.
THE TRIAL OF RATKO MLADIC
D: Henry Singer, Rob Miller | P: Henry Singer, Rob Miller, Ida Bruusgaard | UK, Norway | 2018 | 100 min | Canadian Premiere
Accused of horrific war crimes, the “Butcher of Bosnia” finally faces a verdict in the biggest trial since Nuremberg. Embedded with both the prosecution and defense, this courtroom thriller reveals the troublingly nuanced Serbian–Bosnian conflict that still rages on.
UPDATE 3/12/19: ADDITIONAL SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS ADDED:
D: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert | P: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert, Julie Parker Benello | USA | 2019 | 115 min | International Premiere
When an abandoned General Motors factory in Ohio is reopened by a Chinese billionaire, the local blue-collar employees clash with modern Chinese innovations in this Sundance award-winner co-directed by this year’s Outstanding Achievement Award recipient Julia Reichert.
ASK DR. RUTH
D: Ryan White | P: Rafael Marmor, Ryan White, Jessica Hargrave, Christopher Leggett | USA | 2019 | 100 min | International Premiere
Do we have anything left to learn from 90-year-old sex therapist Dr. Ruth? In this revealing look at a true trailblazer, she revisits the painful memories of her early life in Germany and the playful milestones of her career as America’s most candid sex ed teacher.
COLD CASE HAMMARSKJÖLD
D: Mads Brügger | P: Arno Becker, Andreas Rocksén, Bjarte Mørner Tveit | Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium | 2019 | 127 min | Canadian Premiere
Was it accident or assassination when a UN Secretary General’s plane crashed en route to peace talks for the Congo Crisis? In this probe into the 1961 tragedy, sinister new evidence draws the director into a discovery more horrific than he imagined.
FRAMING JOHN DELOREAN
D: Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce | P: Tamir Ardon, Nick Spicer, Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce | USA | 2019 | 109 min | International Premiere
Car design guru, genius entrepreneur or brilliant criminal—who was the real John DeLorean? Narrative recreations starring Alec Baldwin punctuate revealing interviews with the enigmatic automaker’s inner circle to elegantly parse the man from the scandalous myth.
GORDON LIGHTFOOT: IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND
D: Joan Tosoni, Martha Kehoe | P: Joan Tosoni, Martha Kehoe | Canada | 2018 | 90 min | World Premiere
From a rural Ontario childhood to Greenwich Village of the ’60s, stadium tours of the ’70s and beyond, vivid archival footage helps chart the career of the legendary songwriter as he reveals the inspiration behind his lyrics and longevity.
I LOVE YOU, NOW DIE: THE COMMONWEALTH VS. MICHELLE CARTER
D: Erin Lee Carr | P: Andrew Rossi | USA | 2019 | 140 min | International Premiere
This two-part HBO docu-series dives past the headlines and into the ethical morass of the case of Michelle Carter, who faces the prospect of jail time after coercing her boyfriend into suicide via text, blowing open troubling questions of how we communicate in the digital age.
MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL
D: Stanley Nelson | P: Nicole London, Stanley Nelson | USA, UK | 2019 | 113 min | International Premiere
Never-before-seen footage and studio session outtakes reconstruct the rich inner life of one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time, along with new interviews from the artists he inspired, including Quincy Jones and Carlos Santana.
MYSTIFY: MICHAEL HUTCHENCE
D: Richard Lowenstein | P: Maya Gnyp, John Battsek, Sue Murray, Mark Fennessy, Richard Lowenstein, Lynn-Maree Milburn, Andrew de Groot | Australia | 2019 | 104 min | Canadian Premiere
The enigmatic frontman of wildly popular Australian rock band INXS, who died tragically in 1997, is remembered by the women in his life, including revealing interviews with famous girlfriends Kylie Minogue and Helena Christensen.
ONE CHILD NATION
D: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang | P: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christoph Jörg, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn | USA | 2019 | 89 min | Canadian Premiere
Through vérité footage and raw interviews, this fearless, Sundance Award–winning exposé unmasks the wrenching costs to millions of families of China’s infamous 1979 “one-child policy,” introduced to curb population growth and boost sweeping economic development.
D: Mark Franchetti, Andrew Meier | P: Mark Franchetti, Andrew Meier | UK, Russia | 2018 | 93 min | World Premiere
The family of a high-ranking Sicilian mob boss comes out of 30 years of hiding to tell the gripping tale of how he helped convict over 400 Mafiosi—and became the most hunted witness in US criminal history.
D: Ian Cheney, Martha Shane | P: Jennifer Lee, Ian Cheney, Martha Shane | USA | 2019 | 84 min | International Premiere
Explore the evolution of emojis, the colourful and creative pictorial language that surged from a simple set of icons to a swiftly evolving linguistic phenomenon that is reshaping how we communicate with one another.
QUIET STORM: THE RON ARTEST STORY
D: Johnny Sweet | P: Colleen Dominguez, Omar Michaud, Johnny Sweet | USA | 2019 | 116 min | International Premiere
Following an infamous on-court brawl, Ron Artest became the most maligned athlete in sports. This distinctly American biography follows him from his childhood in Queens to his turbulent NBA years to his reinvention as inspiring mental health advocate Metta World Peace.
D: Ai Weiwei | P: Ai Weiwei | Germany | 2018 | 78 min | North American Premiere
From Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei comes a powerful work that follows the daily lives of refugees in Europe as they hang in limbo between a disintegrating humanitarian aid system and intensifying nationalism.
STIEG LARSSON: THE MAN WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE
D: Henrik Georgsson | P: Mattias Nohrborg, Fredrik Heinig | Sweden | 2018 | 99 min | Canadian Premiere
This compelling look at the Swedish journalist, whose The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series shot to wild posthumous fame, delves into his lesser-known but more significant contribution: fearlessly researching and exposing Neo-Nazism in his own country and beyond.
D: Laurence Mathieu-Leger | P: Laurence Mathieu-Leger, Bryant McBride | USA, Canada | 2018 |
89 min | World Premiere
In the midst of the American civil rights movement, Willie O’Ree became the first Black player to skate in the NHL. An inspiration to many, the remarkable story of this recent Hall of Fame inductee’s courage and resilience transcends the sport.
D: Tim Travers Hawkins | P: Julia Nottingham, Thomas Benski, Lucas Ochoa, Isabel Davis | UK | 2019 | 91 min | Canadian Premiere
After her 35-year prison sentence is commuted by President Obama, former military intelligence analyst and whistleblower Chelsea Manning prepares to leave a military prison and transition to her new life as a free woman.
UPDATE 3/19/19: A total 234 Films from 56 countries have been announced and finalized for this year’s Festival, of which 54% are from female Filmmakers. The Scotiabank Big Ideas Series will feature Ai Weiwei (The Rest); biochemist and leading figure in the “CRISPR revolution” Jennifer Doudna (Human Nature); Willie O’Ree, the first Black hockey player to play in the NHL (Willie); beloved Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot (Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind); and whistleblower Deane Berg, Dr. Daniel Cramer of the Harvard Cancer Center and Dr. Ami Zota of George Washington University (Toxic Beauty).
Tickets will be open to the public Tuesday, March 26 at 11:00 a.m. More details here: http://hotdocs.ca.
(Photo/video credit: Hot Docs)
#HOTDOCS: 2018 HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL PREVIEW
Running Thursday April 26 through Sunday, May 6, 2018, the 2018 HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL is set to take over Toronto. The annual Festival brings together lovers of Cinema with an extensive programming line-up cover Films from a wide array of topics. Films about Bill Murray, Imagine Dragons Frontman Dan Reynolds, M.I.A., Alexander McQueen, Gilda Radner and Andy Irons are among the most high-profile of the 246 Films to screen at the Festival.
Highlighting this year’s Festival is a free World Premiere of THE TROLLEY at Ontario Place’s Cinesphere. Hot Docs also will present special 25th anniversary screenings of THE WAR ROOM and KANEHSATAKE: 270 YEARS OF RESISTANCE with Directors in attendance.
Our Amanda Gilmore (@GilmoreAmanda) had the pleasure of previewing some of the Festival’s key titles already and shares with us some thoughts on what you should check-out at Hot Docs this year!
In order, she lists her Top Five Must-See Films at Hot Docs this year:
1. Inventing Tomorrow
2. The Guardians
3. Active Measures
4. Alt-Right: Age Of Rage
5. On Her Shoulders
Inventing Tomorrow follows teenagers from around the world who are working on innovative solutions to fight against environmental issues. Due to their brilliant minds, they have become finalists at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, which is the biggest school science fair in the world, to showcase their work.
Director Laura Nix puts her focus on brilliant teen minds in Indonesia, India, Mexico and Hawaii who have been effected by the environmental issues they are trying to fix. In doing this, Nix showcases how children and teenagers will be the ones to save our earth. She also crafts a Documentary that will make the audience want to spark environmental change in their community.
Inventing Tomorrow screens at Hot Docs on Sunday, April 29 at 9:15PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, Monday, April 30 at 12:45PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, Saturday, May 5 at 8:30PM at Fox Theatre, and Sunday, May 6 at 12:30PM at Isabel Bader Theatre.
The Guardians exposes the corrupt guardianship program within the state of Nevada. Director Billie Mintz interviews those involved in the guardianship program, including lawyers, private and public guardians, the victims, and the victims family members who are trying to free them.
This Documentary is a shocking investigative examination of a corrupt system that is legally stealing the wealth of Baby Boomers. Mintz is relentless in his pursuit to expose the hidden truths behind the guardianship program in the state of Nevada. As well as revealing those in charge of this horrifying legal reality. Therefore making The Guardians an important and shocking Documentary.
It screens at Hot Docs on Wednesday, May 2 at 6:00PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, Thursday, May 3 at 4:00PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, and Friday, may 4 at 10:15AM at TIFF bell Lightbox 2.
Active Measures examines Trump and his close White House staffers and their connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin staffers.
Director Jack Bryan does a phenomenal job of getting political insiders to give in-depth examinations of Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential Election. But Bryan goes further into the past to other democratic elections that were interfered with by Russian Intelligence Officials. What the audience is left with is a mind-blowing journey that gives substantial information of collusion.
Active Measures screens at Hot Docs on Monday, April 30 at 9:00PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, Wednesday, May 2 at 3:45PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, and Friday, May 4 at 6:15PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1.
On Her Shoulders
On Her Shoulders follows Nadia Murad, a 23-year-old Yazidi genocide and ISIS sexual slavery survivor, who is thrust onto the international stage as a spokesperson for change. As her journey leads down paths of advocacy and fame, she uses her voice to spark activism worldwide to help the Yazidi people.
This Documentary works because it not only brings Murad’s story to the world, but also the stories of the Yazidi people. It becomes as a second lens to what Murad has been advocating for years. Director Alexandria Bombach brilliantly shows the immense pressure put on Murad by world leaders and politicians, as well as her close aides and herself. Yet, she never struggles under this heavy weighted stress she has on her shoulders. On Her Shoulders is a powerful examination of a truly inspiring woman.
On Her Shoulders screens at the Hot Docs on Tuesday, May 1 at 6:15PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, Wednesday, May 2 at 10:00AM at TIFF Bell Lightbox, and Saturday, May 5 at 4:00PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox.
The Cleaners follows the “digital janitors” whose job it is to make decisions on what content and images we are allowed and not allowed to see on Social Media.
This Documentary follows workers in Manila, Philippines that watch tens of thousands of content, spanning from pornography to war zone photography, a day and decide if it should be censored or not. The Cleaners works because it examines the negative impact the job has on the individuals and organizations involved. They feel the weight of the world is on their shoulders and look at horrific images and videos that become imprinted on their mind, so they won’t be on ours.
The Cleaners screens at Hot Docs on Monday, April 30 at 6:30PM at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema as part of the Big Ideas Series presented by the Scotia Wealth Management Programme. It also screens at the Festival on Wednesday, May 2 at 2:45PM at Scotiabank Theatre 3, and Friday, May 4 at 9:00PM at Revue Cinema.
Blowin’ Up is an inside look into a New York City special intervention court, that helps sex workers escape the unjust cycle of arrests and clear their record of the charges against them. But after the 2017 US election their efforts become endangered by the new White House administration.
The Documentary is a powerful expression of human compassion. Director Stephanie Wang-Breal’s focuses not only on the sex workers, but the judges, lawyers and organizations trying to help them. This aides in telling all sides of the human trafficking perspective. Wang-Breal also uses her camera to better understand the reasons why some become sex workers. And why it’s often threatening to get out of. Resulting in the viewers preconceived judgement to dissipate.
Blowin’ Up screens at the Hot Docs on Tuesday, May 1 at 6:45 PM and Hart House Theatre, Thursday, May 3 at 12:30PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox, and Saturday, May 5 at 9:00PM at The Revue.
Alt-Right: Age Of Rage
Alt-Right: Age Of Rage follows the race war in the United States through the eyes of alt-right white supremacist leader Richard Spencer, and anti-racist activist Daryle Lamont Jenkins.
What Director Adam Bhala Lough creates with Alt-Right: Age Of Rage is a chilling expose on the tensions in America since Trump’s presidency. Lough focuses on interviews from alt-right members and anti-racists members to give an in-depth look at two opposing sides. And it all leads up to the shocking 2017 Charlottesville riots and the moment an alt right member drove a car into counter-protestors.
Alt-Right: Age Of Rage screens at Hot Docs on Friday, April 27 at 9:30PM at Hot Docs Red Rogers Cinema, Saturday, April 28 at 1:15PM at Isabel Bader Theatre and Friday, May 4 at 3:45PM at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.
The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution
The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution follows female chefs in Toronto, New York City, London and Paris who have been kept in the background while male chefs dominate magazine covers and TV shows.
This timely Documentary brings women into the boss role in the kitchen. Director Maya Gallus has found rich subjects who are all women, yet they have different perspectives on how to run their kitchen. They also all have unique experiences about how they were treated before and after becoming chef. The overall message is that chefs don’t need to be angry and kitchens don’t need to be stress induced.
The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution screens at Hot Docs on Thursday, April 26 at 9:30PM at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, Saturday, April 28 at 1:15PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 as part of the Food on Film Programme, and Sunday, May 6, at 3:30PM at Isabel Bader Theatre.
United We Fan
United We Fan follows countless women and men who created fan campaigns to save their favourite TV shows from being canceled.
Director Michael Sparaga examines multiple fan campaigns that have saved TV shows such as Star Trek, Veronica Mars, Chuck and more. This is a fun Documentary that anyone who has cared about a show will love. And for all of those who don’t understand fandom this is a great study in why fans care so much. United We Fan is an inspiring Documentary that examines the change voices can make when they put in blood, sweat and tears.
United We Fan screens at Hot Docs on Saturday, April 28 at 5:30PM at Scotiabank Theatre 4, Monday, April 30 at 3:00PM at Hart House Theatre, and Thursday, May 3 at 12:!5PM at Hart House Theatre.
McQueen follows the professional life of Alexander McQueen from the time he got his first tailoring job on Savile Row to his sudden death in 2010.
Directors Ian Bonhote and Peter Ettedgui gather real footage which brings the audience closer to the talented McQueen. They mix this real footage with colleagues, friends and family interviews that bring audiences closer to the fashion designer. Overall, McQueen chronicles the rags-to-riches story of this fashion icon that will have an impact on those who loved him and his designs.
McQueen screens at Hot Docs on Saturday, April 28 at 9:15PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, Sunday, April 29 at 2:30PM at Hart House Theatre, and Sunday, May 6 at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2.
The Blue Wall
The Blue Wall follows the media, police, activists, lawyers and politicians that were or have become involved with the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in Chicago in 2014.
Director Richard Rowley crafts an engaging Documentary that tells all sides of the 16 shot shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer. With interviews spanning all different perspectives on the problem there is a clear narrative leading to the truth. The Blue Wall is a timely Documentary that uncovers the corrupt truth and tries to expose the reasons why there is rarely any justice.
The Blue Wall screens at Hot Docs on Tuesday, May 1 at 9:00PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, Wednesday, May 2 at 12:30PM at Hart House Theatre, and Thursday, May 3 at 9:00PM at Scotiabank Theatre 3.
The Accountant of Auschwitz
The Accountant of Auschwitz follows the trial of Oskar Gröning who was an accountant at Auschwitz during World War II. The trail made headlines around the world because the man was 94-years-old and he was the first Nazi to admit to everything he did.
This Documentary is a powerful look at the history of the justice system in Germany when prosecuting Nazis, and former Nazis that worked and concentration camps during World War II. It chronicles all the trails for World War II Nazis over the years and how they had an impact on the trail of Gröning. With interviews from Auschwitz prisoners, lawyers and people with varieties of views on Gröning’s participation within Auschwitz this Documentary provides the whole picture on the Gröning trail.
The Accountant of Auschwitz screens at Hot Docs on Sunday, April 29 at 5:45PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, Monday, April 30 at 3:45PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, and Friday, May 4 at 9:00PM at Scotiabank Theatre 13.
Chef Flynn chronicles the tremendous talent and passion for cooking that teenage chef Flynn McGarry has had since he was a young child. Director Cameron Yates mixes his footage with those of home videos to tell the whole story of who Chef Flynn is. And what we are left with is a study of a strong young man with ambition. Yates also chronicles McGarry’s mother’s dedication given to make sure her son achieves every goal he has. In doing this, Yates tells the story of the pressure and sacrifices experienced by a family not only the dreamer.
Chef Flynn screens at Hot Docs on Saturday, April 28 at 6:45PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, Sunday, April 29 at 10:45AM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, and Saturday, May 5 at 1:15PM at Isabel Bader Theatre.
The Sunday screening of Chef Flynn will be part of the Food & Film Programme and will be followed by a Brunch at The Anne Boleyn at 1:00PM.
Call Her Ganda
Call Her Ganda chronicles the violent murder of transgender woman Jennifer Laude in Olongapo City, Philippines, and the trail of her murderer, US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton.
This timely Documentary gives an inside look at the family of Laude and the fight they gave to get justice for her murder. Call Her Ganda also works as a education in history of US and the Philippines relationship to each other. As well as an eye-opening look at the consistent violence by US Marines when on liberty leaves in Olongapo City.
Call Her Ganda screens at Hot Docs on Saturday, April 28 at 9:15PM at Isabel Bader Theatre, Sunday, April 29 at 3:45PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, and Sunday, May 6 at 5:45PM at Scotiabank Theatre 3.
Playing Hard follows Jason Vandenberghe on his journey in bringing his passion project video game, For Honor, to life.
This Documentary brings audiences into the world of video game creation. Though this Documentary wouldn’t be interesting if not for the entirely unique Vandenberghe. The stresses that Vandenberghe has during the entire development of his video game brings audiences along on his journey. Playing Hard manages to capture all audiences attention, even those who aren’t interested in the gaming world.
Playing Hard screens at Hot Docs on Wednesday, May 2 at 9:15PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, Thursday, May 3 at 2:45PM at Scotiabank Theatre 13, and Friday, May 4 at Scotiabank Theatre 3.
306 Hollywood is a loving examination of Sibling-Directors Elan Bogarin and Jonathan Bogarin’s late-grandmother, Annette Ontell. The Directors go through their late-grandmother’s house within the first year of her passing, and investigate all of the objects within it to hold on to the woman they deeply miss.
This may be one of the most unique Docs at the Festival as it plays out like a Feature Film. The Directors mix video footage of Annett, live-reenactments, and dance sequences to bring audiences close to their grandmother. Siblings Elan and Jonathan teach us that the remnants of our homes speak volumes to the people we are. And 306 Hollywood makes an important point that not all lives may be extravagant, but there is importance in every single life.
306 Hollywood screens at Hot Docs on Monday, April 30 at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, Wednesday, May 2 at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, and Saturday, May 5 at Scotiabank Theatre 13.
Get Tickets here!
(Photo credit: Hot Docs)
#HOTDOCS: PROGRAMMING LINE-UP ANNOUNCED FOR 2018 HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL
Running April 26 through May 6, 2018 at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, the 25th edition of the HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL is about to kick off! Comprised of 246 Films from 56 countries and 14 programs, diversity is front and center with female Filmmakers accounting for 50% of the Films.
Highlighting this year’s Festival is a free World Premiere of THE TROLLEY at Ontario Place‘s Cinesphere. Hot Docs also will present special 25th anniversary screenings of THE WAR ROOM and KANEHSATAKE: 270 YEARS OF RESISTANCE with Directors in attendance.
Maya Gallus’ THE HEAT: A KITCHEN (R)EVOLUTION will be premiering opening night of the Festival, taking viewers inside the kitchens of the World’s top female chefs. Other high-profile Films include ANDY IRONS: KISSED BY GOD dealing with the surfing champion’s battle with mental illness, THE BILL MURRAY STORIES: LIFE LESSONS FROM A MYTHICAL MAN following Murray on random adventures, and LOVE, GILDA a Biopic about the beloved Comedian.
Rapper and Activist M.I.A. will be appearing as part of Scotia Wealth Management‘s BIG IDEAS Series and has a Film at the Festival also, MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A.. Imagine Dragons Frontman Dan Reynolds also has a Film at the Festival, BELIEVER, which premiered at Sundance recently and it has him questioning his faith and its stance on homosexuality. McQueen, a Documentary about the late Fashion icon also will screen at Hot Docs.
More on the Festival here including schedule and tickets.
(Photo credit: Hot Docs)
#FIRSTLOOK: 2018 HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
The 2018 HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL is shaping-up to be an exciting one with the announcement of their Special Presentations! Running April 26 to May 6, tickets for the Festival go on sale to the public March 20, 2018.
Special Presentations include:
D: Mohamed Siam | Lebanon, Egypt, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark | 2017 | 83 min | North American Premiere
Filmed over six turbulent years following the Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt, a feisty 14-year-old activist grows before our eyes into a commanding young woman, searching for her identity in a tinderbox of political turmoil and patriarchal systems.
D: Matthieu Rytz | Canada | 2018 | 77 min | Canadian Premiere
As rising sea levels threaten to swallow the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, its president races against the clock to secure the future of a population doomed to be among the world’s first climate change refugees.
D: Don Argott | USA | 2017 | 101 min | Canadian Premiere
Imagine Dragons frontman and devout Mormon Dan Reynolds struggles to reconcile his faith with his church’s hardening stance on homosexuality, and finds himself on a mission to combat growing suicide rates among Utah’s LGBTQ youth. Produced by Live Nation Productions.
Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man
D: Tommy Avallone | USA | 2018 | 70 min | International Premiere
“Bill Murray crashed my karaoke party.” “Bill Murray photobombed our engagement pictures.” Everyone knows someone with a “Bill Murray” story, but this inspirational and drop-dead-funny detective doc hunts down the myths and the man.
D: Cameron Yates | USA | 2018 | 83 min | Canadian Premiere
When a 10-year-old prodigy launches a restaurant in his parents’ house, his culinary creations lead to collaborations with some of the world’s best chefs and a New York Times Magazine cover. But with his career set to take off, can he handle the heat?
D: Hans Block, Moritz Riesewieck | Germany, Brazil | 2018 | 88 min | Canadian Premiere
Dive into the shadowy world of internet content moderators, where fingers hovering over the delete key judge within seconds the lines between art and pornography, journalism and propaganda, censorship and free speech—with far-reaching consequences both online and off.
D: Laura Collado, Jim Loomis | Spain, Estonia | 2017 | 82 min | Canadian Premiere
In the high-stakes world of haute cuisine, legendary Catalonian restaurant elBulli casts a long shadow—but when it closes, the head chef’s younger brother draws on his long-unrecognized creative genius to fight for his own culinary vision.
The Devil We Know
D: Stephanie Soechtig | USA | 2018 | 88 min | International Premiere
Citizen activists unravel one of the largest environmental scandals of our time when West Virginian residents discover DuPont has been dumping a toxic chemical into the water supply—one that’s now found in the blood of over 99% of the world’s population.
D: Laura Nix | USA | 2018 | 105 min | Canadian Premiere
Roused by the issues faced by their own communities, brilliant young minds from around the globe gather in Los Angeles for the world’s largest high school science fair, tackling environmental crises with ingenuity, inspiration and hope.
D: Lisa D’Apolito | USA | 2018 | 84 min | International Premiere
The vulnerable and effusive spirit of beloved comedian Gilda Radner is brought to life through newly discovered audio recordings, home movies, interviews with friends and diary entries read by performers she’s inspired, including Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph.
On Her Shoulders
D: Alexandria Bombach | USA | 2018 | 94 min | International Premiere
After surviving enslavement and genocide, a resilient young Yazidi woman is thrust onto the international stage as a spokesperson for those who’ve suffered at the hands of ISIS, where she must learn to navigate bureaucracy, fame and good intentions.
The Oslo Diaries
D: Mor Loushy, Daniel Sivan | Canada, Israel | 2018 | 98 min | Canadian Premiere
Once upon a time, Israel and Palestine almost made peace. Personal diaries and never-before-seen archival footage bring raw emotion and new insights to the secret, complex negotiations—and eventual failure—of the Oslo Accords peace process.
D: Jean-Simon Chartier | Canada, USA | 2018 | 90 min | World Premiere
A powerhouse Montreal game studio finally greenlights its next potential blockbuster, but egos and artistry collide with the bottom line as everything rides on the epic battle game—featuring samurais, knights and Vikings—hitting the jackpot.
Three Identical Strangers
D: Tim Wardle | USA | 2018 | 96 min | Canadian Premiere
In 1980 in New York, three teenagers discover by chance that they’re triplets who were separated at birth. Despite disparate upbringings, they enjoy their newfound fraternity and fame until relationships unravel under the dark mystery surrounding their adoptions.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
D: Morgan Neville | USA | 2018 | 93 min | International Premiere
Mr. Rogers created a neighbourhood in which he connected with children through honesty, directness and love, while delicately introducing complex social issues. His work continues to resonate today, but have we failed to become the neighbours he hoped for?
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(Photo/video credit: Mr. Will Wong)
#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.