Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hot Docs 2012 Line Up Unveiled


Hot Docs will always hold a special place in my heart as my son was born right in the middle of last year’s festival. With a newly renovated home at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, this year’s edition of the festival has much to celebrate. Last year Hot Docs screened many great documentaries including PROJECT NIM, BEING ELMO, BEAUTY DAY, and BEATS, RHYMES, & LIFE: THE TRAVELS of A TRIBE CALLED QUEST. Not do be outdone, this year’s festival features documentaries centered around the likes of musicians such as LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy and Bob Marley, female wrestlers, and even DRIVE director Nicholas Winding Refn. There are also documentaries that focus on marketing sex to tweens, the life of Ethel Kennedy, corruption in Liberia, and a look at how the economic crisis has crippled the city of Detroit from the directors of JESUS CAMP. Believe me, that is not even scratching the surface of what the festival has to offer this year. Below are a few of the highlights from the various Hot Docs programs:

In addition to the opening night Canadian premiere of Alison Klayman’s AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY, an up-close portrait of the renowned Chinese activist and artist, other notable films in the Special Presentations program include: Bart Layton’s THE IMPOSTER, which depicts a lost and found boy who may not be who he claims; James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot’s INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE, a look into the lives of video game developers; Lauren Greenfield’s THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES, a portrait of an eccentric billionaire family facing the economic crisis; Kevin Macdonald’s MARLEY, the definitive biography of reggae artist Bob Marley; Christian Bonke and Andreas Koefoed’s BALLROOM DANCER, a look at a Latin ballroom champion’s ambitious comeback plans; and Yung Chang’s CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT, an intimate portrayal of a boxing coach training poor teens in rural China.



In the competitive Canadian Spectrum program, notable films include: Christy Garland’s THE BASTARD SINGS THE SWEETEST SONG, the story of a tumultuous mother-son relationship in Guyana; Omar Majeed and Ryan Mullins’ THE FROG PRINCES, the story of a developmentally challenged theatre group’s struggle to mount an ambitious production; Angad Singh Bhalla’s HERMAN’S HOUSE, a trip through the years with jailed Black Panther activist Herman Wallace; and Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math’s THE FINAL MEMBER, which looks at Iceland’s penis museum’s search for a critical artifact.

In the competitive International Spectrum program, notable films include: Bill Ross and Turner Ross’ TCHOUPITOULAS, the adventures of three teenagers exploring the heart of New Orleans at night; Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s THE LAW IN THESE PARTS, a candid glimpse into the legal minds behind the rules and regulations governing the Occupied Territories; Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippet’s ONLY THE YOUNG, a look at a last stolen summer of first loves; and Sean McAllister’s THE RELUCTANT REVOLUTIONARY, a portrait of a tour guide caught in the 2011 uprising in Yemen’s capital.



In the World Showcase program, notable films include: Tiffany Sudela-Junker’s MY NAME IS FAITH, the story of a 12-year-old girl’s struggle to overcome trauma and accept her adopted family; Beth Murphy’s THE LIST, which reveals an American’s crusade for refuge for his Iraqi colleagues; Alessandro Comodin’s SUMMER OF GIACOMO, a 19-year-old deaf boy spends a summer day with a childhood friend; and Peter Gerdehag’s WOMEN WITH COWS, the story of two sisters and their complicated relationship with a dozen cows.

The Made In Southeastern Europe program includes: Lena Müller and Dragan von Petrovic’s DRAGAN WENDE – WEST BERLIN, about West Berlin in 1970s and now as seen through a working-class Serbian émigré; Ed Moschitz’s MAMA ILLEGAL, a glimpse into the lives of Moldovan women who struggle to support their families; and András Kollmann’s STRONG – A RECOVERY STORY, about a mountaineer whose desire to climb does not fade following a catastrophic injury.



The Next program includes: Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern’s SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS, where LCD Soundsystem front-man James Murphy’s bids farewell to his fans; Poull Brien’s CHARLES BRADLEY: SOUL OF AMERICA, a heart-warming story of a 62-year-old illiterate James Brown impersonator from Brooklyn; Maya Gallus’ THE MYSTERY OF MAZO DE LA ROCHE, a look at the mysterious life of the Canadian author; and Sylvia Caminer’s AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART, a peek into the world of devoted Rick Springfield fans.

The Rise Against program includes: Brian Knappenberger’s WE ARE LEGION: THE STORY OF THE HACKTIVISTS, a radical collective’s fight that redefined civil disobedience; Guy Davidi and Emad Burnat’s 5 BROKEN CAMERAS, a portrait of a West Bank village threatened by an encroaching Israeli settlement; and Petr Lom’s BACK TO THE SQUARE, a look at citizens in post-revolution Egypt.



The Nightvision program includes: Chris James Thompson’s JEFF, a biography of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer; Mary Kerr’s RADIOMAN, the story of Radioman, a fixture in the NYC film scene; and James Franco and Ian Olds’ FRANCOPHRENIA (OR: DON’T KILL ME, I KNOW WHERE THE BABY IS, a wild behind-the-scenes doc with James Franco on General Hospital.

The Documentary Plays Itself program includes: Phie Ambo’s GAMBLER, which follows director Nicholas Winding Refn as he shoots sequels of his cult classic; Louis Pepe and Keith Fulton’s LOST IN LA MANCHA, which captures Terry Gilliam’s ill-fated attempt to film the Don Quixote story; and Thom Andersen’s LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF, a look at how Los Angeles is depicted on film.

The full lineup of films can be found at www.hotdocs.ca

2 comments:

  1. very exciting stuff. I can see at least ten there that I'm looking forward to already, even though it'll be months until I do.

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    1. Depending on the titles you are interested in, you may see them sooner than you think. Several of the films usually get released in theatres within months. Morgan Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold for example hit theatres a few weeks or so after playing Hot Docs.

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