#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
#HOTDOCS: “ANTS ON A SHRIMP”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
One of the most anticipated events of Hot Docs is the immersive dining experience being offered by chef Justin Cournoyer following the May 1st screening of Maurice Dekker’s Ants on a Shrimp. Hosted by Eatable Films, The Canadian Landscape in 5 Courses, is a dinner that will change the way you think about Canadian cuisine.
Ants on a Shrimp follows chef Rene Redzepi of Noma fame as he and his team travel to Tokyo to create a unique 14-course meal that combines local Japanese flavours and ingredients with his own Danish atheistic. While much is made of Redzepi, the Film spends much of its time with the members of his team who help shape the Tokyo menu.
Although the Movie may scare people away from life in a professional kitchen, it will definitely inspire amateur foodies and lifelong epicurians to indulge. But rest assured, despite the chef’s notorious fanatical control over every aspect of the kitchen, accommodations can be made for more squeamish or dietary restricted diners, “Veg: no meat, no fish, but dairy and insects are okay.”
Justin Cournoyer’s Actinolite Restaurant is famous for using local ingredients in all their dishes. Chef is sure to amaze even the most jaded guest at his post-Movie dinner, The Canadian Landscape in 5 Courses. Fear not, I have been personally assured that no ants (living or otherwise) will make an appearance on your plate. For more information about this one in a lifetime dinner visit http://eatablefilms.com.
Sunday, May 1 at 6:45 p.m. Isabel Bader
Monday, May 2 at 12:30 p.m. Hart House
Wednesday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m. Isabel Bader
Sunday, May 6 at 6:00 p.m. Royal Cinema
#HOTDOCS: 2016 HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL PREVIEW PART II
By Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
Our extensive coverage of Hot Docs continues with reviews on more great Documentaries.
In director Pete Gleeson’s Hotel Coolgardie, we meet Finnish backpackers Lina and Steph who are forced to look for work after having had their credit cards stolen and their accounts emptied on a trip to Bali. When they arrive in Coolgardie, a mining town in Australia, Lina and Steph are not thrilled about being thrown into the local bar scene but are willing to work it to make ends meet and hopefully find their way home. Upon arriving at work they are met with a sign that reads “new girls tonite” and are forced to contend with customers who verbally and physically harass them.
Hotel Coolgardie will anger you at the fact that there is still this much blatant sexual harassment still prominent in the world in 2016. It will evoke rage and spark the conversation about an important issue.
Sunday, May 1 at 7:15 p.m. TBLB
Monday, May 2 at 2:00 p.m. Scotiabank
Saturday, May 7 at 9:45 p.m. Scotiabank
THE LAST LAUGH
You know what is funny? The Holocaust! With interviews from comedians ranging from Gilbert Gottfried to Mel Brooks, The Last Laugh follows a Holocaust survivor as he discusses the use of humour in relation to the Holocaust and whether or not it is acceptable. The Last Laugh focuses on the Holocaust, but also addresses other horrific events throughout history showcasing some of the jokes about them demonstrating when it is not funny to make light of a tragedy. The Last Laugh will leave you laughing or will leave you upset and dismayed; it all depends on how one views comedy in light of tragedy.
Sunday, May 1 at 1:15 p.m. Bloor Cinema
Monday, May 2 at 9:00 p.m. Isabel Bader
Saturday, May 7 at 10:30 a.m. Isabel Bader
Back in 2011, Anthony Weiner’s life changed forever and in a way that were he not a person in political power it would not have garnered as much attention as it did. Weiner, the Documentary capturing what happened since the incident regarding an inappropriate photo released on Twitter, captures the timeline of Anthony Weiner’s life after the incidents that occurred. The Documentary is about former U.S representative hailing from New York, and his scandal leading towards his resignation and failed run for mayor.
Now the question has to be asked, is there anything that Anthony Weiner did that warranted the media attention towards him on such a level? Yes, he did cheat on his wife by sexting women, but in many cases issues like this are dealt with on a personal level and not garnering world news coverage. He made a mistake and his entire political life has completely unraveled due to the controversy and statements made by the media in light of his situation. The Documentary focuses more on the actions that he took to try to salvage his career and the steps he tried to take to distance himself from the situation rather than how the political world can destroy a career based on something so minimally to do with politics. Weiner will have you re-examining the way media represents our higher-ups in light of their decisions and personal choices that do not affect the greater population.
Friday April 29 at 3:30 p.m. Isabel Bader
Saturday April 30 at 1:00 p.m. Bloor Cinema
Friday, May 6 at 6:30 p.m. Bloor Cinema
#HOTDOCS: 2016 HOT DOCS CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL PREVIEW
By Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
It’s the most nonfictional time of the year.
With the kids all Hot Doc’ing
And everyone tell you to watch a Documentary.
It’s the most nonfictional time of the year!
Well, while they haven’t started writing carols to celebrate North America’s largest Documentary Film Festival, it’s only a matter of time. Starting on April 28th and running through May 8th, the Canadian International Documentary Festival is eleven days great nonfiction programming featuring the best Documentaries from over all over the world.
One of Toronto’s most accessible Film Festivals, Hot Docs prides itself on offering free daytime screenings to seniors (60+) and students. This year, they will also be offering close captioning and described audio at select screenings at both the TIFF Bell Lightbox and Scotiabank Theatre.
As Toronto gears up for Hot Docs here are some of our top picks for the Festival:
LEAGUE OF EXOTIQUE DANCERS
Directed by Rama Rau, the Opening Night Film features some of the best burlesque dancers of their day. Their day may have been a few decades ago but these ladies are artists of highest caliber. The Movie opens in Las Vegas at an induction ceremony for the Burlesque Hall of Fame and quickly sets the tone for a raunchy 90 minutes of fun and sequins. Using recent interviews and archival footage the audience is taken on a journey through the heyday of burlesque through to its sad downturn when strip clubs started demanding more pole dancing and nudity and less artistry. Rau is careful never to mock her subjects and treats them with unfaltering respect.
Thursday, April 28 at 9:45 p.m. Bloor Cinema
Friday, April 29 at 1:30 p.m. TBLB
After clowns and aerialists retire from the circus they still close their eyes and dream of performing. Although their days flying through the air are often left behind due to injury or old age, their thirst for applause is more difficult to forget. In the tight knit community of Sarasota, Florida, these former circus-folk become family to one another and learn to apply the skills they learned in the ring for a new audience.
Warning: Not for people who suffer from coulrophobia.
Friday, April 29 at 9:15 p.m. TBLB
Sunday, May 1 at 1:15 p.m. Scotiabank
Saturday, May 7 at 1:00 p.m. Scotiabank
AIM FOR THE ROSES
Two artists who struggled for years to realize their dreams, the lives of Canadian daredevil Ken Carter and composer Mark Haney are intertwined through music. Carter’s dream of jumping the St. Lawrence River in a jet-powered car inspired Haney to write an album retelling the trials Carter suffered trying to make his dream a reality.
Sunday, May 1 at 7:15 p.m. Scotiabank
Monday, May 2 at 1:15 p.m. TBLB
Friday, May 6 at 1:00 p.m. Scotiabank
GOD KNOWS WHERE I AM
After leaving a healthcare system that continued to fail her, Linda Bishop survived for months on little more than apples and rain water in an abandoned farmhouse in New Hampshire. Her poignant story is revealed through diary excerpt and interviews.
Saturday, April 30 at 9:15 p.m. Scotiabank
Monday, May 2 at 12:15 p.m. TBLB
Saturday, May 7 at 9:30 p.m. Scotiabank
THE INCOMPARABLE ROSE HARTMAN
A woman described as “A Rose with many thorns,” Rose Hartman is a documentary photographer whose work is immediately recognizable. In an age when a woman standing up for herself was considered abrasive, Hartman proved herself to be in a class of her own taking photos of celebrities long before paparazzi became a byword amongst the elite.
Wednesday, May 4 at 9:00 p.m. Isabel Bader
Friday, May 6 at 11:00 a.m. Isabel Bader
Saturday, May 7 at 9:15 p.m. Fox Theatre
Rebellion can take many forms. Susanne Regina Mueures’ Film introduces you to Anoosh and Arash, two young men who use music to escape the tyranny of the new Iranian regime. Dessert raves become a form of rebellion as Anoosh and Arash fight back against a system that tells them “if your music is political they’ll execute you.”
Sunday, May 1 at 4:15 p.m. Scotiabank
Tuesday, May 3 at 3:15 p.m. TBLB
Saturday, May 7 at 7:00 p.m. TBLB
What if earth were simply a ship travelling through the galaxy and we were its crew? This Sarah Polley-narrated documentary challenges the viewer to look at the environment as an ever changing planetary species that we must care for before we destroy it forever. With interviews from scientists around the world, Kevin McMahon’s latest documentary pulls no punches as it confronts the human and environmental costs of everything from fossil fuels to apathy about the fate of the arctic.
Saturday, April 30 at 9:15 p.m. TBLB
Sunday, May 1 at 12: 30 p.m. Isabel Bader
Saturday, May 7 at 10:00 a.m. Bloor Cinema
The story of first mass shooting in the United States is told through animated recreations of first-hand witness accounts. This powerful documentary is sets the scene at the University of Texas where 16 people died as the result of one man’s actions on August 1, 1966.
Director Keith Maitland doesn’t use his platform to preach about gun control but instead paints a picture of both the victims and heroes of that day. From the opening scenes where a young, pregnant girl is shot walking with her boyfriend to the ongoing reports from a radio journalist on the ground, the Film draws the audience in and doesn’t let go until long after the credits have stopped running.
Sunday, May 1 at 9:30 p.m. TBLB
Monday, May 2 at 1:00 p.m. Isabel Bader
Friday, May 6 at 3:15 p.m. Hart House
UNDER THE GUN
While many documentaries struggle for years with small budgets and little outside support, Stephanie Soechtig’s latest Film did not. Executive produced and narrated by Katie Couric, the Movie already has distribution in the States through Lionsgate and yet will likely still have to fight an uphill battle for viewership.
As the Movie opens, the following chilling statistic is shared: “By the end o this Film 22 people will be shot and 6 will die.” Perhaps more chilling is that the day I saw this Movie the first notification I had on my phone after the screening was about yet another mass shooting in the States.
Somewhat manipulative and one-sided, this movie will make everyone think twice about the NRA and gun control in the States. Discussing everything from right to carry rifles into the local supermarket to laws that continue to tie the hands of the ATF, the filmmaker makes no apologies about which side of the gun control debate she sits on.
Tuesday, May 3 at 3:15 p.m. TBLB
Thursday May 5 at 9:30 p.m. Bloor Cinema
Sunday, May 8 at 9:30 p.m. Regent Cinema
Stay tuned in the coming days for reviews on more great documentaries coming to Hot Docs!
FULL SCHEDULE here.
#GIVEAWAY: ENTER TO WIN PASSES TO SEE “DE PALMA”, “LOVETRUE” + “SUITED” AT HOT DOCS
Running from April 28 – May 8, 2016, the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival has become a public staple annually. Hot Docs boasts over 200 Films this year from all around the world and over 200k are expected to attend.
We’d love to give away tickets to some of the Festival’s more high-profile Films and there is a Hollywood tie-in even! We have passes available for the following:
A brilliant piece on the infamous, iconoclast Hollywood director Brian De Palma, who is the man behind Carrie, Scarface and the original Mission: Impossible.
May 2, 6:15PM
Isabel Bader Theatre
A stunning art-film on love and heartbreak produced by Shia LaBeouf.
May 4, 9:00PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox
A moving documentary on transgender men finding the right fit in a Brooklyn suit shop produced by the lovely Lena Dunham.
May 4, 7:00PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox
To enter to win, simply head over to MR. WILL ON FACEBOOK and click “like” on this Post to win!
Indicate for us which Film you’d like to enter for. You are welcome to enter for all three.
To learn more about Hot Docs, including how to get tickets and screening schedules, click here.
(Photo credit: Hot Docs)
#HOTDOCS: 2016 HOTDOCS FILM FESTIVAL PREVIEW
By Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
Every Spring, Documentary lovers focus their attention in one direction: The Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival. The 23rd edition of the Festival boasts 232 documentaries including 71 Canadian or Canadian co-productions. With filmmakers from 51 countries, 40% of whom are women, Hot Docs remains a beacon of diverse programming.
The Festival will kick off on April 28th with the world premiere of Canadian Filmmaker Rama Rau’s League of Exotique Dancers. Over the 10 days that follow, an impressive schedule of Films will thrill festival goers with offerings from both first time Documentarians and masters of the craft. Here are a few titles to look out for when building your Hot Docs schedule.
Canadian music fans are sure to be enthralled with Spirit Unforgettable by Director Pete McCormack. The Film focuses on Spirit of the West frontman John Mann and his battle with early onset Alzheimer’s.
If there are still any outstanding questions abut the “trial of the century” Ezra Edleman’s five-episode, seven-and-a-half-hour Documentary series O.J. Simpson: Made in America intends to answer them. It will be screened both in its entirety and as of the Scotiabank Big Ideas Series, which will include an extended Q&A with special guests.
One man transformed television in the 70’s. In Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing’s Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, we meet the man who challenged the way American’s thought by bringing the difficult issues of the day into their living rooms on a nightly basis.
Sundance award winner Weiner will be making its Canadian debut at Hot Docs. Directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg turn their lens on a political melodrama that has to be seen to be believed.
Toronto arts lovers are no doubt familiar with the beautiful multidisciplinary production Contemporary Color from last year’s Luminato Festival. Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross will bring this spectacular show to the big screen during Hot Docs.
True cinephiles will need no more than the title of Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s new Film to be convinced to line up this highly-anticipated Documentary: De Palma.
A few must-sees for hardcore Documentary fans include Joe Berlinger’s Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru (also part of the Scotiabank Big Ideas Series), Unlocking the Cage by Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker, and of course, Werner Herzog’s Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World.
Finally, the new DocX program will feature a single screening Canadian Matt Johnson’s Operation Avalanche. This Mockumentary about the moon landing premiered to rave reviews at Sundance and is guaranteed to be a hot ticket.
Last year Hot Docs brought together over 200,00 Documentary enthusiasts. Thanks to the stellar work of the Hot Docs Programming Team, that number is only going to increase in 2016.
The Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival will run from April 28 to May 8, 2016. More here.
#HOTDOCS: HOT DOCS 2015 PREVIEW
By Justin Waldman
Hot Docs is a unique Film-going Experience that focuses exclusively on Documentaries. In the past years, the Film Festival has shown some truly phenomenal Documentaries that have given light to very serious issues and problems impacting the World we live in. As well, Hot Docs has also gone to the other end of the spectrum focusing on Icons, specifically last year with Carol Spinney and George Takei.
This year is no different as the topics spread a great range from the battle against Coal Miners to compliling the lost works and untold stories of Nirvana‘s Kurt Cobain. Hot Docs is not only a Documentary Festival for Doc Lovers, it’s a Festival for Film Lovers of all walks of life. It brings to the table everything from their Opening Night Movie, TIG, to the Scotiabank Big Ideas Series which features Films focusing on important issues, and spellbinding Documentaries that hit home emotionally.
Part of the Scotiabank Big Ideas Series, TIG is the Story behind Comedienne Tig Notaro’s bravery in the face of Cancer, a powerful Piece that will move you. Also part of the Series is Danny, which is about the Canadian Politician who was fighting for a better life for the people living in Newfoundland and Labrador. Deep Web is another Title in the Big Ideas Program which explores the deepest, darkest parts of the Internet – just as terrifying and real on the level of Street Crime. Sweet Mickey for President also is a part of the Program, following the political run behind famed Musician Michel Martelly. Last but not least, Out To Win is a Film that speaks to the difficulty of being LGBT in the Sports Industry and how a few Trailblazers paved the way for Athletes and non-Athletes alike to live authentically.
On the other hand, there is a Show Me The Funny Program which features Documentaries surrounding great Comedians and their lives, whether it be hardship or their astounding ascents to stardom. Live From New York is part of this Series, which features the brilliance behind beloved Saturday Night Live. Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon focuses on the Magazine, and later the Franchise that launched the careers of some of the most famed Comedians of today. Monty Python: Meaning of Live is the perfect addition to this Program as it focuses on the members of Monty Python getting back together for their sellout Shows last year at the O2 Arena in London.
Lastly, some of the Documentaries that we have seen thus far have truly stood out to us and have garnered our recommendation and praise for their brilliance and powerful Storytelling. Welcome To Leith is a phenomenal Film that captures what happened to a small rural town North Dakota as it shortly, and most unfortunately becomes overrun with white supremacists, a great Movie that tells a Story hard to swallow. As well, Dreamcatcher is an intriguing look at Brenda Myers-Powell and her mission to help Girls on the street reach their true potential.
The Hot Docs Festival runs from Thursday, April 23 through to Sunday, May 3, 2015, ranging from a variety of cinemas in Toronto. More here.
(Photo credit: Hot Docs)
#FIRSTLOOK: TRAILER AND HOT DOCS SCHEDULE FOR “DRAWING THE TIGER”
We want to draw your attention to DRAWING THE TIGER from Filmmakers Amy Benson and Scott Squire, a Film which premieres at the upcoming HOT DOCS Film Festival!
A family in Nepal living on less than a dollar a day wins the globalization jackpot: a charity scholarship for their daughter to go to school in the capital city. She promises to return, to free her family from poverty.
But she does not return. Drawing the Tiger is an intimate portrait of the price one family pays for their golden opportunity.
The number one cause of death among Women in Nepal aged 14 to 49 is suicide.
See the Trailer:
A Kickstarter was launched last month to aid the funding of this Film and its monetary goal was accomplished. We want you to see this important piece of Filmmaking.
DRAWING THE TIGER screens at HOT DOCS Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at Scotiabank Theatre 6:30 PM, Friday, May 1, 2015 at Scotiabank Theatre 4:45 PM and Saturday, May 2, 2015 9:15 PM. Details here.
(Photo/video credit: nonfiction media)
#HOTDOCS: “THE MANOR” ANNOUNCED AS OPENING NIGHT FILM AT 20TH ANNUAL HOT DOCS FILM FESTIVAL
Between April 25 through May 5, 2013, Toronto will once again host the Hot Docs Film Festival, now in its 20th year. The Festival is an annual staple for our City’s truest Film Lovers. This year’s Opening Night slot goes to The Manor, screening at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on April 25, 2013. The Documentary follows Filmmaker Shawney Cohen as he returns home to a small town in Ontario, reuniting with his 400-pound Father, 85-pound Mother and assisting his Brother in running their Family Business – a Strip Club adjoining a 32-room Motel. Unconventional.
Also walking-in with a bit of buzz are Alias, a Documentary about Toronto Rappers and Last Woman Standing, which follows World Champion boxers and former Friends, Ariane Fortin and Mary Spencer, as they fight each other for an Olympic Dream.
The Hot Docs Box Office is situated at Hazelton Lanes Shopping Centre, lower level at 87 Avenue Road.
Read more about this year’s Films right here.
(Photo credit: Six Island Productions)