Friday, April 20, 2012

What’s Hot at Hot Docs 2012 (Part 3)

Hard to believe that Hot Docs is only six days away! As part of our continuing coverage of this year’s Hot Docs, we are offering up another edition (Part 1, Part 2) of our Hot Docs 2012 preview. Here are the titles we think you will want to catch at this year’s festival :

The Ambassador
Sundance award-winning director Mads Brügger returns with his latest film of “performative journalism.” Obtaining backdoor Liberian papers, he travels to the former French colony of the Central African Republic masquerading as a businessman on a diplomatic mission with the public intention of creating a match factory. Privately, however, his aim is to gain access to the country’s diamond-rich power brokers. In this clandestine, darkly humorous and often disturbing endeavour, Brügger exposes how power truly works in the seedy world of those who abuse diplomacy, and reveals the multitude of perks afforded to corrupt ambassadors. This is the story of Africa for the affluent and of those who flaunt a system in which the winners and losers are often the most unexpected.

Screenings: Friday April 27th 4:00 pm – Isabel Bader Theatre; Friday May 4th 4:45 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2; Saturday May 5th 9:00 pm pm – The Regent.

The Invisible War
The Invisible War, the latest groundbreaking investigative documentary by award-winning director Kirby Dick, is about one of America’s most shameful and best kept secrets: the epidemic of rape within the US military. Today, a female soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The number of assaults in the last decade alone reached the hundreds of thousands. Focusing on the powerfully emotional stories of several young women, the film reveals the systemic coverup of the crimes committed against them and follows their struggles to rebuild their lives and fight for justice. The Invisible War features hard-hitting interviews with high-ranking military officials and members of Congress that reveal the perfect storm of conditions that exist for rape in the military, its history of coverup and what can be done to bring about much needed change.

Screenings: Friday April 27th 3:30 pm - Bloor Hot Docs Cinema; Saturday April 28th 9:00 pm – The ROM Theatre; Saturday May 5th 3:15 pm – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

The Frog Princes
All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts.

In The Frog Princes that man is Ray-Man (named by his parents after artist Man-Ray), a young adult with Down syndrome who lives at home but plans to move out, has a girlfriend and is part of a theatre troupe of developmentally challenged actors staging a unique adaptation of The Frog and the Princess. Missed cues, forgotten lines, romances and rivalries highlight the backstage drama as troupe members gain independence and confidence while guided by their charismatic mentor, Dr. Stephen Snow. If life imitates art, The Frog Princes is cleverly framed as a play within a play. As the performance’s third act reveals the hero’s true identity, Ray-man and his fellow thespians discover a new world before them and the transformative power of theatre.

Screenings: Sunday April 29th 7:30 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1; Tuesday May 1st 4:45 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2; Saturday May 5th 9:45 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2.

The Queen of Versailles
Meet Jackie, former Mrs. Florida 1993 and current wife of David Siegel, the self-styled king of a vast timeshare empire. She loves her husband, eight children and shopping. A leggy blond teetering on high heels, Jackie is thrilled to show us her work in progress, the largest single-family home in America. Modeled on the palace of Versailles but arguably more lavish, it features 30 bathrooms and a skating rink. At the same time, David is building the largest timeshare property in Las Vegas, selling average citizens a small piece of the good life for just a little money down. Then the financial crisis of 2008 hits. As the threat of losing it all looms, David’s personality undergoes a marked shift from boastful billionaire to tired old man, but Jackie soldiers on with a bright smile. One wonders what it will take to wake this queen from her American dream.

Screenings: Wednesday May 2nd 7:00 pm – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1; Thursday May 3rd 9:15 pm – Isabel Bader Theatre; Friday May 4th 8:45 pm – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.

Brooklyn Castle
Public school I.S. 318 is a chess powerhouse, producing national champions straight out of junior high. The secret to the school’s success? Coaches who hold leadership skills and divergent thinking above standings and trophies, and students eager to learn and improve. Brooklyn Castle follows the challenges and triumphs both on and off the chessboard as the financial crisis brings severe budget cuts to after-school programs. With three-quarters of the student body living under the poverty line, will the chess club survive the economic downturn? Will the students realize their goals? Will Rochelle become the first female African-American chess master? Will sixth-grade prodigy Justus conquer his stage fright? Will Patrick overcome his ADHD by honing his powers of concentration? In life, as in chess, the answers aren’t clear. The truth is not about right and wrong, it’s about infinite moves and the choices we make.

Screenings: Sunday April 29th 6:30 pm – Cumberland 3; Tuesday May 1st 9:00 pm – The ROM Theatre; Saturday May 5th 1:15 pm – The Regent.

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.

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