Sunday, April 26, 2009

Toronto's "Hot Docs": April 30- May 10

Michael Stevens reporting from Toronto...

The 16th edition of Toronto's Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, runs April 30-May 10.

From a record 1948 film submissions, this year’s slate will present 171 titles from 39 countries in 10 programs, with additional screenings recently added.

"These are wild times," said Sean Farnel, Hot Docs director of programming.

"But as a reflection of the present, documentary continues to be a vibrant storytelling form, helping us to make sense of the world, even as it enlightens, entertains and empowers our audiences."

In addition to previously announced Special Presentations, including opening night world premiere of Jennifer Baichwal’s Act Of God, other high-profile films in the Special Presentations program include Kirby Dick’s Outrage, an indictment of American politicians, the international premiere of Louie Psihoyos’ The Cove, focusing on an intervention to halt dolphin slaughter; Gary Hustwit’s Objectified, a look at our relationship with manufactured objects and the Canadian premiere of Mercedes Stalenhoef’s Carmen Meets Borat, a comedy about Romanian villagers who were misrepresented as Kazakhstani idiots in the comedy feature Borat.

Additionally, three Canadian films screening as Special Presentations include the world premiere of Kevin McMahon’s Waterlife, an immersion into the beauty and toxicity of North America's Great Lakes, the world premiere of Larry Weinstein’s Inside Hana's Suitcase and the North American premiere of John Greyson’s Fig Trees.

In the competitive Canadian Spectrum program, 10 feature-length films will be receiving world premieres, including Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji’s 65 Red Roses about the online friendship of three young women awaiting transplants, Larry Young’s Ana Arthur, looking at the end of a marriage between a 70-year-old female doctor and her 35-year-old husband, Rosie Dransfeld’s Broke, a vérité look at an Edmonton pawnshop, Barry Greenwald and Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s The Experimental Eskimos, following a government experiment that removed three Inuit boys from their families, Alan Zweig’s A Hard Name, Hubert Davis’ Invisible City, Albert Nerenberg’s Laughology, Alison Rose’s Love At The Starlite Motel and Sarah Goodman’s When We Were Boys, a glimpse into the lives of students at a private boys’ school.

In the competitive International Spectrum program, notable films include the world premiere of Mads Brügger’s The Red Chapel, following the exploits of a Danish journalist and two comedians in North Korea, the world premiere of Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson’s Mugabe and the White African, a look at one farmer’s attempt to save his farm from a land reclamation policy, the world premiere of Mary Rosanne Katzke’s About Face: The Story Of Gwendellin Bradshaw, focusing on a young women who seeks to reunite with a mentally ill mother, the international premiere of Samantha Buck’s 21 Below, the international premiere of Eric Daniel Metzgar’s Reporter, following Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof as he reports on the humanitarian crises in the Congo, the international premiere of Aron Gaudet’s The Way We Get By, a look at three seniors who greet American troops returning from war, the North American premiere of Peter Liechti’s The Sound Of Insects- Record Of A Mummy, recreating one man’s solitary last days, the North American premiere of Fabienne Godet’s My Greatest Escape, a character study of a career criminal, the North American premiere of Peter Kereskes’ Cooking History, with military cooks offering perspectives on the 20th century’s major conflicts, the Canadian premiere of Yoav Shamir’s Defamation and the Canadian premiere of Simone Bitton’s Rachel, investigating the death of a young peace activist.

Other screening programs at this year’s Festival include World Showcase, a popular survey of compelling docs from around the globe, Made in South Korea, a revealing look at new work from this burgeoning doc centre and Let’s Make Money, a look at the need and greed surrounding money.

Additionally, Hot Docs will present the retrospective programs Focus on Ron Mann, a mid-career retrospective, the Outstanding Achievement Award Retrospective, honouring Canadian filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin and the Spotlight on the NFB at 70, featuring National Film Board titles selected by guest programmers.

Hot Docs is North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market. running April 30-May 10, 2009, presenting a selection of 170+ documentaries from Canada and around the world to Toronto audiences and international delegates.

Hot Docs will also mount a roster of conference sessions, market events and services for documentary practitioners, including the Toronto Documentary Forum May 6-7 and The Doc Shop...