Hot Docs: May 2
(May 1, 2019 – Toronto, ON) There are only 4 days left for the 26th annual Hot Docs Film Festival and each day is filled with the best documentaries produced the world over. In fact, there are 40 films on the May 2 schedule and that’s not counting the Visual Reality productions and short films. Most of the films we’re looking at will be having their last screening and that includes the first Canadian film at 10:00 a.m. Illusions of Control.
Directed by Shannon Walsh, Illusions of Control is a far-ranging film that examines what we are doing and have done to the only planet we can inhabit. The film concentrates on the stories of five women who deal with nuclear fallout, arsenic-laced water and desert dust storms in places like Fukushima, Chicago and Yellowknife. This is yet another film about the Anthropocene age we now live in and how we are destroying the planet and what survival in the future might look like.
Illusions of Control screens:
Thur. May 2 at 10:00 a.m. at Tiff Bell Lightbox (TBLB) 3
Today is also the last screening of Conviction. Co-directed by Ariella Pahlke, Nance Ackerman and Teresa MacInnes, this 78-minute film sets out to understand why women have become the fastest-growing segment of the prison population in Canada. The twist in the film is that some women are given cameras and instead of responding to questions, tell their own stories, providing an unusually authentic point of view.
Thur. May 2 at 12:30 p.m. at the Hart House Theatre
At 1:30 p.m. it’s the last of 3 screenings of Prey. Matt Gallagher’s film is about the indefensible sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. It tracks the case of Father Hod Marshall, who pled guilty to 17 assault charges. One of his victims, seeking closure for what happened during his childhood, filed suit against the Basilian Fathers of Toronto. The film centres on a man known by some as “the priest hunter,” lawyer Rob Talach and on a number of survivors who provided testimony.
Thu. May 2 at 1:30 p.m. at TBLB
At the Hart House Theatre on the University of Toronto campus it’s the last screening of Ingrid Veninger’s documentary, The World or Nothing. Two Cuban men, twin brothers, have moved to Spain to seek their fame and fortune, hoping for online stardom as they shoot their own dance videos. Seemingly inseparable, they do everything together. Towards the end one says he will only marry if his intended bride accepts his brother as part of the marriage. While they are, or should be, grown men, they are dreamers who miss their mother, go forward blinded by hope and want nothing less than what the title says.
The World or Nothing screens:
Thur. May 2 at 3:00 p.m. at the Hart House Theatre
Toxic Beauty is an important film because, quite simply, we just don’t know enough about the things we put into and onto our bodies and we can no longer trust the big brands when they tell us their products are safe. While we are all aware of the larger pollution that surrounds us we just don’t know enough about our own very personal environments. Directed by Phyllis Ellis, the film is co-produced by Peter Raymont and Barri Cohen. Why should you see this film? As Aisha Jamal writes for Hot Docs: Toxic Beauty “…ultimately concludes that without action, the greatest chemical disaster may be the one happening inside our bodies.” This is the film’s final screening.
Toxic Beauty screens:
Thur. May 2 at 5:45 p.m. at Scotiabank 3
Today is also the final screening of The Daughter Tree, directed by Rama Rau and set in the Punjab region of India. More specifically in a village known as the Village of Men. No girls have been born there in more than 20 years. Men who wish to marry have to leave home to find a bride. The main focus of the film is Neelam Bala, described as “a warrior midwife” who works to save unborn baby girls, a more-than-difficult task given the cultural preference for sons. When a girl is born a fruit tree is planted and when she grows up she will have this tree as her own property and can use it to make a living and perhaps have some economic freedom through the sale of the tree’s fruit. A wonderful tale of resilience and determination against long and entrenched odds and cultural traditions.
The Daughter Tree screens:
Thur. May 2 at 9:00 p.m. at Hart House Theatre
The last Canadian film on the schedule is the only Canadian film screening within Hot Docs’ Nightvision section. These are new films that programmers predict will become future cult classics. Titled Who Let the Dogs Out, this 60-minute film from Brent Hodge is a funny take on a famous song. The film tracks artist and curator Ben Sisto who spent 8 years traveling the world trying to find the answer to the song that asked who, who, who, who, who let the dogs out? It’s a fun film and yes, documentaries can be funny. This is the first of three screenings and because of its relatively short length, it screens with two shorts, one from the United States the other from the UK.
Who Let the Dogs Out screens:
Thur. May 2 at 9:30 p.m. at the TBLB 1
Fri. May 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hart House Theatre
Sun. May 5 at 9:30 at TBLB 2