Francophrenia (or: Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is)A baby’s been stolen and Franco, the homicidal performance artist, is the prime suspect. Actor James Franco’s behind-the-scenes take on his guest stint on daytime soap opera General Hospital starts out as an observational document of the production—rehearsal, take, break, repeat—but quickly evolves into a wild stream-of-consciousness whodunit. Franco the actor and Franco the character bleed into one another until there is no discernable difference. Will the real Franco please stand up? What you see is definitely not what you get in this film that could be either documentary or fiction—or both. A collaborative experiment by directors Franco and Ian Olds, this weird and wonderful psychological thriller riffs on spectacle, suspicion and the interpretation of image. Behold, the actor as madman caught in the throes of a mind-bending Method meltdown.
Screenings: Tuesday May 1st 11:30 pm – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema; Wednesday May 2nd 10:00 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2; Saturday May 5th 9:45 pm pm – The Royal Cinema.
China HeavyweightAward-winning director Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze) takes his camera back to China to follow Qi Moxiang, a charismatic state boxing coach, on a search for raw talent in the village schools and rural tobacco fields of Sichuan province. Those chosen leave the poverty of their farms for training in special schools in the hopes that they’ll turn out to be extraordinary, winning medals and honour for their country. In this observational film, Chang entwines Coach Qi’s desire to fight “one more time” with an intimate portrait of the students’ lives, the rigours of training and the camaraderie as they grow from teenagers to young adults. As a new century of change and fierce competition sweeps through China, the best must decide between communist ideals of the common good and Western individualism: Will they fight for the glory of their country or for fame and money, becoming boxing kings like Tyson or Pacquiao?
Screenings: Wednesday May 2nd 9:00 pm - Bloor Hot Docs Cinema; Thursday May 3rd 2:00 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox2; Friday May 4th 9:30 pm – Fox Theatre
*This film is one of two films screening as part of Hot Docs Live! Be sure find out what theatre near you will be featuring Hot Docs Live!
Beauty is EmbarrassingBeauty Is Embarrassing is the irreverent and inspiring story of one of America’s most important artists, Wayne White, a man who began his career as a humble puppeteer. When the Tennessee-raised White moves to New York, his big break comes in love and as one of the creators of Pee-wee’s Playhouse. The film follows White through his artistic journey and the highs and lows of his art career. With his infectious Southern charm and playful childlike spirit, White maintains a passion and creative drive that’s unstoppable. He’s a reminder to us all that we should follow our passion. It’s those creative impulses that will lead us to where we need to go
Screenings: Saturday April 28th 6:00 pm – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema; Sunday April 29 1:30 pm – Isabel Bader Theatre; Sunday May 6th 3:30 pm – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.
LauraThe main character in Fellipe Gamarano Barbosa’s newest film is somewhere between Grey Gardens’ Little Edie and Breakfast at Tiffany’s Holly Golightly. Meet Laura, a South American socialite and hoarder who lives in a closet-like apartment in New York crammed to the ceiling with bags of clothes and seemingly worthless ephemera. Laura vehemently guards her space, concealing her poverty to protect her persona as diva. She fascinates Barbosa, and he and his cameraman begin to follow her, the uninvited guest, as she sneaks her way through the back entrances of exclusive parties and star-studded events. As Barbosa’s intrigue grows, Laura begins to exploit him and his crew, playing a cat and mouse game between subject and filmmaker as he follows her antics of mixing with New York’s elite by night while cheating poverty by day. Winner of the Brazilian Doctv Latin America program.
Screenings: Sunday April 29th 7:00 pm – The ROM Theatre; Tuesday May 1st 4:00 pm – The ROM Theatre; Saturday May 5th 4:00 pm – Cumberland 2.
Legend of a WarriorGrunts, thwacks, slaps and yaaaii’s pierce the air in grand master Frank Lee’s Edmonton gym as his students practice his famous White Crane technique. Still ebullient and charismatic, Sifu Frank is turning 70 and, after a 25-year absence, his filmmaker son has decided to train at his dad’s gym to understand his Chinese heritage and discover the man behind the legend before it’s too late. As his training intensifies, their relationship remains distant until a father-son trip to Hong Kong triggers Sifu’s painful memories of fighting to survive. Director Corey Lee perfectly blends stunning shots of kung fu and action-style animations with candid conversations to gradually reveal the men beneath the warrior and his once-estranged son. Lee executes a perfect combination punch with an action film that’s also a love story about fathers and sons who fight for the courage to heal old wounds.
Screenings: Monday April 30h 9:15 pm – Cumberland 2; Tuesday May 1st 1:30 pm – The ROM Theatre; Friday May 4th 4:00 pm – Isabel Bader Theatre.
All film summaries are courtesy of the Hot Docs website. Please visit the site to purchase tickets and find out about the other great films playing at the festival.