#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.
#SPOTTED: ZAC POSEN AT HOT DOCS FOR “HOUSE OF Z”
Hot off his appearance at the Met Gala Monday night where he dazzled us with a custom dress for Katie Holmes, fashion icon Zac Posen is officially in Toronto! He is in town to present Sandy Chronopoulos’ House of Z at the 2017 Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival, which is a portrait of him as an artist, centering on his rise, fall and rise again in the world of fashion. This marks an ambitious feature debut for Chronopoulous, a producer at CITY (Rogers Media).
The Film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival recently to rousing reception and debuts here in Toronto with a special Q&A by another fashion force, Jeanne Beker.
As he was headed to his Q&A, we were lucky to get a snap with Posen who along with Chronopoulos, was in great spirits!
See our Snap:
You still have opportunities to see HOUSE OF Z, more on this and showtimes at Hot Docs here.
(Photo credit: Hot Docs/Mr. Will Wong)
#SPOTTED: BILL NYE AT THE 2017 HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL
Television personality and science educator Bill Nye is in town for the 2017 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. Appearing for his Documentary Bill Nye: Science Guy (premiering Wednesday, May 3, 2017) and also as part of the Scotiabank Big Ideas program, in which he spoke at tonight at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Just released last week was his new 13-episode Netflix series, Bill Nye Saves the World.
Our David Baldwin attended the talk which saw Nye really make a call to action for climate change. “We have to fight this for the betterment of human kind”, he says. “We can power Canada renewably right now if we just do it.”.
See a Snap:
(Photo credit: David Baldwin)
#HOTDOCS: HIGHLIGHTS AND PREVIEWS OF THE 2017 HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL
Running Thursday, April 27 through Sunday, May 7, 2017, the 24th annual HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL takes over Toronto once again, bringing a world of wonder to our City, uniting upwards of 200k Film lovers. A vast array of Documentaries ranging from science to celebrity highlight the Festival this year and 200+ special guests are expected to be in attendance this year including the likes of comedian Gilbert Gottfried, fashion designer Zac Posen, activist Dolores Huerta, scientist Bill Nye and several more! The Festival kicks-off with opening night gala, spelling bee Documentary, BEE NATION.
Our Siobhán Rich and David Baldwin already have had a chance to preview some of this year’s titles, delivering us the inside scoop on some of the Films you absolutely must see at HOT DOCS this year. Some of the marquee titles at this year’s Festival include: 78/52 sees fans of iconic Hitchcock Horror Psycho pick apart that unforgettable shower scene. SPOOKERS takes us into the world of New Zealand’s famous scary amusement park. BECOME BOND centers on George Lazenby, the one and only actor to have starred in only one Film in the legendary franchise and why he walked away. Fashion lovers will rejoice knowing that Zac Posen will be in town for HOUSE OF Z, a Documentary about the powerhouse’s rise, fall and rise again. If you grew-up in the ’90s you’ll be thrilled to know Bill Nye not only has a Film screening at the Festival, but also he appears at a conversation as part of the Scotiabank Big Idea Series. GILBERT centers on funnyman Gilbert Gottfried who lets us into his world and the mind behind those famous potty-mouthed jokes. Hot off the heels of the popular Musical The Bodyguard playing in Toronto, comes WHITNEY “CAN I BE ME”, a deeply-intimate portrait about one of the most beloved songstresses of our time.
Siobhán Rich‘s Hot Docs picks:
This year’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival will open with Lana Šlezic’s Bee Nation which looks at children participating in Canada’s first province-wide First Nations Spelling Bee. Aided by supportive teachers and families, the students, ranging from grades 3 through 8, study their words in hopes of earning the chance to fly from Saskatchewan to Toronto and participate in the National Bee against kids from all over Canada.
Šlezic’s primary focus is the kids and their academic journey but she doesn’t shy away from highlighting reservation life and allowing her audience to draw their own conclusions. The Film includes some powerful imagery including a scene where one of the students is standing near a tattered Canadian flag blowing in the wind. If the future of Canada lies within its children then perhaps better funding for Indigenous schools would be a good place to start.
Thursday, April, 27 9:45 p.m. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Friday, April 28 2:00 p.m. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Saturday, May 6 6:45 p.m. Isabel Bader Theatre
CITY OF GHOSTS
Exceptional Films like Matthew Heineman’s City of Ghosts are why I love documentaries and return to Hot Docs year after year. This incredible Film looks at the men behind the website Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently and the incredible risks they take every day to bring the truth to the outside world. With their digital and personal safety constantly at risk, they were forced to flee their homes and live in exile; their worked continued remotely thanks to informants back in Syria. As citizen journalists, the men of RBSS use cameras and words as their chosen weapons in the fight against ISIS.
Parts of the Film are difficult to watch including videos from ISIS and footage on the ground in Raqqa. But imagine living through them in a world where “death has become one of the most common things in my life.” Heineman wisely chose not to editorialize and instead allowed the men and work of RBSS on stand on their own merit. Part of Syria 360, Food & Film and the Scotiabank Big Ideas Series, there are multiple opportunities to see this Film and take a peek into lives so different from the ones we live here.
Friday, April 28 6:30 p.m. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Saturday, April 29 5:00 p.m. Isabel Bader Theatre
Saturday, May 6 9:30 p.m. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Sunday, May 7 12:45 p.m. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
HOUSE OF Z
Anyone who thinks the red carpet preshow is the best part of the Oscars will love Sandy Chronopoulos’ House of Z which looks at the rise and fall of fashion wunderkind Zac Posen. When he burst onto the scene at age 21, Posen was the darling of the fashion industry; his dresses were exquisite and his antics on and off the runway were infamous. With everyone from Anna Wintour to Diddy in his corner, Posen’s success seemed all but guaranteed.
Alas, every good story needs villain and Posen was his own worst enemy by “trying to be too creative.” In the Film’s climactic third act, Posen must rebuild his fashion house and prove his personal motto that “the art is the brand” with a revolutionary runway show hosted at his expensive New York-based atelier.
Using home movies and interviews, Chronopoulos gives the audience an intimate look into the life of one of fashion’s most important personalities. The opportunity to see Posen’s beautiful creations on the big screen should not be missed by any fashionista.
Wednesday, May 3 9:30 p.m. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Thursday, May 4 1:45 p.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox
There is a house in Rosedale that defies expectations. Built by the late mathematician, violinist, and activist James Stewart, Integral House was designed to be more of a private concert hall than a home. When hunting for architects to help him realize his dream house, Stewart put a call out for people with “conviction, imagination, and a willingness to take risks.” With its graceful curves and intense attention to detail it is a shrine to modern architecture.
Great Documentaries often change shape during filming and Integral Man is no different. What was supposed to be a simple film about a magnificent house turned into a memorial of Stewart’s final months. Director Joseph Clement was granted incredible access to both man and house and his admiration for both shines through.
Tuesday, May 2 7:15 p.m. Isabel Bader Theatre
Wednesday, May 3 10:00 a.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox
Friday, May 5 4:30 p.m. Fox Theatre
Legends of “women of the water” appear in lore from cultures around the world, so the modern obsession with mermaids is nothing new. What may be new is depths people take their love: from “dive bars” to meet-ups there is an entire subculture of mer-sisters. Ali Weinstein’s Mermaids dives into a world of tails, sisterhood, and the joy of finding your people.
Lest you turn up your dorsal fin and snub mermaiding as a new fad, the Canadian funded documentary visits Weeki Wachee Springs State Park where the Mermaid Show has been amazing audiences since 1947. From there, mer-weddings and MerFest seem like a delightfully natural progression.
Mermaids will be preceded by Ryan Freeman’s Short Film, Being Batman.
Friday, April 28 9:30 p.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox
Saturday, April 29 2:30 p.m. Isabel Bader Theatre
Monday, May 1 10:30 a.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox
Friday, May 5 12:00 p.m. Scotiabank Theatre
Luke Walker’s Documentary about the two Super PACS which raised money for Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson is a painful look at dwindling hope rather than an in-depth look at the American electoral system. The movie naturally positions Trump’s successes against Carson’s many gaffes and it is up to the viewer to distribute the blame for his defeat amongst his adversaries, the overeager press, and even the unrelenting optimistims of the self-proclaimed Carsonators.
Witnessing Carson’s rise and fall may prove interesting for Canadian viewers as the film takes the audience on a journey through the lengthy American Primary season and its odd traditions. It is difficult to watch this film without cringing since, unlike his supporters, we know how Dr. Carson’s campaign ended. As one supporter laments, “This will not be an easy win – in part because he keeps talking.”
Tuesday, May 2 7:00 p.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox
Wednesday, May 3 3:30 p.m. Hart House Theatre
Friday, May 5 11:00 a.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox
Saturday, May 6 12: 30 p.m. Fox Theatre
If you have ever wondered what the Westminster Dog Show would be like with chickens instead of dogs then this is the Documentary for you. The competitive world of poultry pageantry is finally getting its due in Slavko Martinov’s new Film, Pecking Order. Set in New Zealand (home of a lot of quirky Documentaries during this year’s Hot Docs), the Film takes us on a guided tour of chicken humour, poultry club politics, and introduces a cast of truly likable characters with a drive to win.
From ruffled feathers to coups in the coop, this film treats the members of the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club with great respect even as it pokes fun. One of the more amusing threads in the movie demonstrates that these chicken enthusiasts have no misconceptions about the eventual fate of their beloved chooks; and no amount of spider web theatrics will save the ones who don’t measure up.
Saturday, April 29 4:15 p.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sunday, April 30 10:30 a.m. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Saturday, May 6 10:00 a.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox
My winter boots are so dirty I think they may have personally Kickstarted this Documentary in self-defense. Stacey Tenenbaum’s Shiners focuses on shoe shiners and the pride they take in a job that gets very little societal respect. From a man in Tokyo who serves his customers champagne while they wait to a man who has worked the same corner in New York City for 15 years, the men and women profiled seek to end the stigma attached to their chosen career. And yes, there are some harsh social obstacles to overcome. In Bolivia, for example, Balloo and his fellow shiners must cover their faces as they serve their well-heeled clients.
Even clocking-in at a gentle 75 minutes, one cannot help but think this average feature could have been an excellent short. With compelling characters and great camera work, this Canadian-funded Film is a reminder that not all dreams end in the board room.
Shiners will be preceded by Jessica Beshir’s Short Film, He Who Dances on Wood.
Saturday, April 29 7:30 p.m. Isabel Bader Theatre
Sunday April 30 1:00 p.m. Hart House Theatre
Thursday, May 4 9:30 p.m. Hart House Theatre
Sometimes you watch a Movie and immediately know it will be an audience favouite. Amanda Lipitz’s Documentary relies on the proven trope of sports/the arts helping improve the lives of people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The story’s familiarity, however, doesn’t make the Film any less compelling.
Step follows three young women from the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women and their Step team, the Lethal Ladies. To Blessin, Tayla and Cori “step is life” and a successful senior year both academically and for the team is ticket to a future filled with possibilities. Set against the backdrop of the riots that erupted after the Freddie Gray verdict, the girls are use their chosen art form to express what it’s like be young, African American women today.
Friday, April 28 8:45 p.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sunday, April 30 3:30 p.m. Hart House Theatre
Sunday, May 7 5:45 p.m. The Aga Khan Museum
Danny Houck lives in Laurelville, Ohio and has devoted most of his life to his love of violins. From his biker-style vest to his license plate, his love of Stradivarius violins is no secret to those around him. When he discovers violinist Razvan Stoica through a YouTube video, he reaches out to the musician and promises to create a replica of Giuseppe Guarneri’s famous Il Cannone del Gesù. With no formal training in the art of violin making and a looming deadline, it becomes clear that Houck may have bitten off more than he can chew.
An introvert living with bipolar disorder, Houck’s desire to duplicate the world’s most famous violin for his new friend will have audiences wincing with every setback and crossing their fingers as the big day nears. You do not need to be an expert luthier or lover of classical music to enjoy Director Stefan Avalos’ Strad Style. You only need compassion and a desire to cheer on an underdog.
Friday, April 28 5:30 p.m. Scotiabank Theatre
Sunday, April 30 1:00 p.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox
Friday, May 5 6:00 p.m. The Revue
Sunday, May 7 6:30 p.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox
THANK YOU FOR THE RAIN
Director Julia Dahr’s Film Thank You for the Rain seeks to put a personal face on the devastation wrought by climate change for millions of people around the world. Seasons of drought followed by flash flooding are the harsh reality for farmers in Kenya but Kisilu Musya hopes to change that through tree planting. Musya is credited as a Co-director on the Film which takes him from meetings talking to local farmers all the way to the UN Convention on Climate Change.
I recommend this Film not only because Kenya is one my favourite places I have ever lived but because Kisilu Musya is an activist who truly deserves to be heard. His strength of character and laughter in the face of tragedy make him a leader you will find yourself cheering for and as he discusses his local solutions with global leaders.
Tuesday, May 2 6:30 p.m. Scotiabank Theatre
Wednesday, May 3 1:00 p.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sunday, May 7 10:30 a.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox
David Baldwin‘s Hot Docs picks:
The shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho is one of the most popular and well known scenes in all of film history. Through a variety of black and white interviews with directors, actors, editors, sound designers and film scholars, Director Alexandre O. Philippe has put together an exhaustive semiotic study of the scene and why all 78 camera set-ups and 52 cuts have become so historically significant.
Whether you are a fan of Film or just Hitchcock, 78/52 is ridiculously-interesting to watch from beginning to end. The level of detail that comes from each interview subject is astounding, and it is scary to hear how wildly different each one reads the scene and the build-up to it. They do an even better job analyzing Hitchcock himself, and emphasize how important Psycho’s place is within his filmography. 78/52’s lax structure is initially daunting to immerse into, but its jumpy nature actually makes the Film stronger. Interviews with Janet Leigh’s body double Marli Renfro and Hitchcock’s granddaughter Tere Carruba further enlighten us on what actually happened on-set, but that is only icing on the cake. This is a Documentary that is truly a Film lover’s dream.
Thursday May 4 @ 9:30PM Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Friday May 5 @ 3:00PM Scotiabank Theatre
CATEGORY: Singular Sensation(s)
If the name George Lazenby does not ring a bell, then you are obviously not that big a fan of James Bond. The star of 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is profiled in this wildly-entertaining and stylish documentary that may or may not be slightly embellished. Through dramatizations featuring actors like Jeff Garlin, Dana Carvey and Bond Girl Jane Seymour, we learn how Lazenby went from being a child with half a kidney to a used car salesman and model to landing his first acting job as 007.
Josh Greenbaum’s dDocumentary is fluffy and often silly, but it is incredibly fun to watch. Lazenby is a fantastic interview subject and is very forthcoming with his unbelievable life stories. The sheer amount of archive material and behind-the-scenes videos from the Bond set Greenbaum uses are simply stunning. As exciting as that all is, the Film takes way too long to get to that part of Lazenby’s life and just kind of fizzles out immediately afterwards. Why spend so much time detailing his early years if you are going to say virtually nothing about what happens later? I just wish Greenbaum did not waste the only moment Lazenby displays genuine emotion and regret by jumping so quickly to the next topic.
Wednesday May 3 @ 8:30PM TIFF Bell Lightbox
Thursday May 4 @ 3:45PM Isabel Bader Theatre
Friday May 5 @ 7:00PM TIFF Bell Lightbox
BLURRED LINES: INSIDE THE ART WORLD
Blurred Lines works as a fascinating crash course for anyone who has ever wanted to understand modern art and the astronomical prices they sell for. Director Barry Avrich uses a plethora of talking head critics, artists, dealers and collectors to push forward his thesis of art being a commodity that defines status and worth. But he jumps around his topics so rapidly that he leaves no time for deeper analysis or detail.
The film is literally the definition of all style and no substance. It is absolutely gorgeous to look at, but everything his interview subjects say comes off as superficial. The art market is ludicrous, and Avrich is content to simply capture the chaos. He inexplicably uses a clip from The Expendables 3 to explain art buying part way through the film, and it comes off as even more absurd than some of the prices the art goes for. Yet the biggest drawback for Avrich’s eye-opening documentary is that his most interesting film subjects – specifically Artist Damien Hirst whose legendary 2008 Sotheby’s auction acts as Blurred Lines’ introduction – are only seen in archived clips from other sources.
Friday April 28 @ 7:00PM TIFF Bell Lightbox
Saturday April 29 @ 1:00PM Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Sunday May 7 @ 11:00AM Isabel Bader Theatre
CATEGORY: World Showcase
For Ahkeem centers around 17-year-old high school student Daje. She is struggling to graduate from her St. Louis alternative high school when she discovers she is pregnant. And as this is all happening, all hell is breaking loose in Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting death of Michael Brown.
Unlike many other Documentaries at this year’s Festival, Director Landon Van Soest and Jeremy S. Levine never stop the action in For Ahkeem to interview any of the Film’s subjects. They let the harrowing events play out naturally and more cinematically, focusing on different moments over this period of Daje’s life. I am curious to know what the Film was about before her pregnancy, as it never truly finds its footing until she finds out part way into the second act. I also thought the incidents in Ferguson would help move the Film towards some deeper meaning – but they only really suggest a timeline more than anything else. This is a deeply emotional passion project, but I feel it could have been stronger if it had more of a concrete purpose.
Sunday April 30 @ 6:00PM TIFF Bell Lightbox
Monday May 1 @ 10:45AM TIFF Bell Lightbox
Friday May 5 @ 6:45PM Fox Theatre
Sunday May 7 @ 3:00PM Hart House Theatre
THE GENIUS AND THE OPERA SINGER
CATEGORY: World Showcase
91-year-old mother Ruth has just returned from a nursing home to live in the New York City apartment she shares with her 55-year-old daughter Jessica. But the pair do not get along, and the animosity between them is stifling. They love each other in one moment, but then treat and say terrible things to each other the next.
Director Vanessa Stockley captures all of this drama and more over the course of the Film’s challenging 70-minute running time, but never properly defines her thesis. Why are we watching these two women bicker at each other? We understand the illnesses that plague both characters, but are barely afforded the opportunity to really understand how they got to this moment in their lives. Stockley tries to coax some discussion and reasoning out of these women, but never seems able to crack through their hardened shells. The sheer amount of collected junk that litters their apartment is horrific and gave me anxiety to see continuously. But it acts as a means of defining who these women are, or at least who they were, more than the Film does.
Sunday April 30 @ 6:00PM Scotiabank Theatre
Monday May 1 @ 3:30PM TIFF Bell Lightbox
CATEGORY: Special Presentations
When we think of actor and comedian Gilbert Gottfried, we think of his loud, shrilly voice and his disgusting and raunchy sense of humour. But Director Neil Berkeley pulls back the curtain with his documentary Gilbert and reveals a quiet and reserved man with a deep love for his wife, kids and sisters. I will admit it readily – I was shocked seeing Gottfried portrayed this way, and even more shocked by how deeply emotional a Film this was to watch.
Berkeley talks to different comedians about who Gottfried is and the varying responses paint a deep-seated portrait of a man with a real life completely divorced from his public persona. The access given into Gottfried’s notoriously private life is staggering. The man rides alone on a coach bus for some of his shows! Berkeley goes through his early beginnings and eventual rise to stardom, using some hilarious archived footage from Gottfried’s old comic sets, and eventually rolls through his moments of controversy with jokes about 9/11 and the 2011 Japanese tsunami and earthquake. It is a very personal and candid picture, and one where I managed to laugh just as often as I teared up.
Monday May 1 @ 9:30PM Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Tuesday May 2 @ 12:45PM Hart House Theatre
Sunday May 7 @ 9:00PM Hart House Theatre
Spookers is the largest and most successful “scare park” in New Zealand – think Halloween Haunt at Canada’s Wonderland or Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, but year-round and turned up past 11. The park was built on the site of the former Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital and employs actors who can play whatever horrific character they want each night. If that does not sound terrifying to you, I am scared to find out what does.
I was really excited to watch Director Florian Habicht’s Documentary unfold, but was left ridiculously disappointed. Habicht has fun showing the detail that goes into the actors’ costumes, make-up and personal histories, interviews the key staff members about the history of the hospital and what makes the park so successful and even shows some of the scares in action. But none of this material adds up to being nearly enough content or substance to warrant a feature-length Documentary. Instead, he pads out the rest with obscure dream sequences featuring the nearly unintelligible Spookers actors – and they have no real purpose aside from being filler. The first two or three are creative enough, but Habicht seems to add one after each five-minute interval. I found myself questioning what the point of these useless sequences was constantly, hoping for some sort of in-depth discussion that never came.
Sunday April 30 9:30PM Hart House Theatre
Tuesday May 2 @ 4:30PM Isabel Bader Theatre
Saturday May 6 @ 9:00PM Revue Cinema
Find out the schedule and how to get tickets here.
(Photo credit: Hot Docs)
#HOTDOCS: “DE PALMA”, “CAMERAPERSON”, “THE SLIPPERS”, “NORMAN LEAR: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU”, “SPIRIT UNFORGETTABLE” + “UNLOCKING THE CAGE”
By Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
Hot Docs has reached the midway point. Thousands of documentary loves and newbies alike have been flocking to venues like the Bloor, the Lightbox, and the Isabel Bader for the chance to be among the first to catch these world class films. With directors, subjects, and even a few crews onstage to participate in Q&As it is no wonder that Hot Docs remains one of the top film Festivals of its kind in the world.
Here are some great titles you can still catch over the next few days.
One of the best Documentary cinematographers in the business, Kirsten Johnson has worked on everything from Fahrenheit 9/11 to Citizenfour. In this unique Documentary, Ms. Johnson has assembled footage from many of her favourite shoots around the world. This truly moving Film takes the viewer on a personal journey from New York to Darfur and everywhere in between, showing us some of the human moments behind the headlines and the soul of a truly gifted cameraperson.
Saturday, May 7 at 6:15 p.m. TBLB
Film buffs will be flocking to see Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s latest Movie. A retrospective on director Brian De Palma’s complete filmography, the Film takes on a journey from his early days in Film school right through to Mission Impossible. De Palma doesn’t shy away from discussing both the high and lows of the process behind making each film. He also finds time to drop anecdotes about his friends Steve (Spielberg), Johnny (Williams) and Bobby (De Niro) among others. This true masterclass led by the master himself.
Friday, May 6 at 9:30 p.m. TBLB
Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You
Good Times, All in the Family and The Jeffersons; all these shows have one thing in common: Norman Lear. The grandfather the modern sitcom, he shaped what we watch on TV more than almost any person before or since. If there was a boundary that needed to be pushed, he obliterated it and left a trail of Emmys in his wake.
Friday, May 6 at 6:45 p.m. TBLB
Saturday May 7 at 3:15 p.m. The Revue
There are great Movies and Movies that drag you back in time to the first time you watched them, and then there’s The Wizard of Oz. Oz is movie that continues to hold the hearts and minds of everyone who has ever seen it. Some people, however, are slightly more obsessed than others. In this great feel good doc, director Morgan White explores the world of die-hard collectors who have devoted thousands of dollars and years of their lives to owning pieces of the movie. And no piece of Oz is more valuable than the ruby slippers.
Sunday May 8 at 6:45 p.m. The Regent
Canadian music legends the Spirit of the West were confronted with a challenge: their lead singer, John Mann, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 52. Rather than give up or retire, this Spirit family rallied behind their brother to support him and help him to continue making music. Using a combination of archival footage and interviews with bandmates, family, and doctors, the Film is centered around the band’s goal to have John play “one last” gig at Massey Hall in June 2015.
Sunday, May 8 at 12:30 p.m. The Royal
Unlocking the Cage
Directors Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker bring us story of Steven Wise and the Nonhuman Rights Project whose goal is to ensure the well-being of animals. In the Film, Wise and his team go to court to save a chimpanzee whom they believe deserves the same right to a cruelty-free life as a human. The Nonhuman Rights Project are a passionate group of people who sincerely believe in their cause and will have the audience at the edge of their seat awaiting the verdict.
Sunday, May 8 at 10:00 a.m. TBLB
#HOTDOCS: “LIFE, ANIMATED” REVIEW
Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
I want to start this review on a more personal note than the other reviews for Hot Docs. I have a brother who suffers from autism and I understand the struggles and hardships associated with it. But I also understand the wrong and terrible stigmas associated with autism as well.
The Documentary Life, Animated from Academy Award-winning Director Roger Ross Williams, details how our subject Owen, develops verbal autism to tear-inducing effect. Maybe it had something to do with how my brother and I tried to communicate with while we were younger, who knows.
The Film details his relationship with the Disney Animated Movies that helped shape who he has become today in helping him get a grasp of the English language. Owen, like many other children who have autism, was diagnosed early on at the age of three. As his motor skills diminished doctors were worried he would never be able to speak again.
Life, Animated is a magical experience that allows the audience to see how Owen through the power of Film. Bring tissues.
Tuesday, May 3 9:15 p.m. Isabel Bader
Thursday, May 5 12:30 p.m. Hart House
Saturday, May 7 1:00 p.m. Fox Theatre