“We are thrilled to be announcing some of this year`s Special Presentation films,” said Hot Docs director of programming, Charlotte Cook. “We are especially proud to be announcing four fantastic world premieres: THE DANGEROUS GAME is Anthony Baxter’s follow up to the acclaimed YOU’VE BEEN TRUMPED, which sees him again as one man against the might of the Trump empire; CHILDREN 404 is an incredibly intimate and insightful look into what it means to be an LGBT youth in Russia; I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY is a beautiful portrait of the man who has given life to Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since their beginnings; and THE SHEIK shows what it’s like to be an Olympic wrestler and pop culture icon.”
Following, in alphabetical order, are the Special Presentation titles announced today:
CHILDREN 404 D: Askold Kurov, Pavel Loparev | Russia | 2014 | 70 min | World Premiere. An intimate firsthand account of how Russian’s LGBT youth have become defenseless after President Vladimir Putin passed a law forbidding “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”
A DANGEROUS GAME D: Anthony Baxter | UK | 2014 | 90 min | World Premiere. In this explosive tale, everyday heroes battle against Donald Trump and a cast of greedy Goliaths who want to turn some of the earth’s most precious places into golf courses for the super-rich.
DEMONSTRATION D: Victor Kossakovsky, 32 film students VVAA | Russia , Spain | 2013 | 70 min | Canadian Premiere. Legendary director Victor Kossakovsky sends 32 film students to document Barcelona ’s massive and violent anti-austerity street protest in 2012. Set to an operatic score, his stunning collage transforms into a brilliant crowd-sourced street ballet.
EVERYDAY REBELLION D: Arash T. Riahi, Arman T. Riahi | Austria , Switzerland , Germany | 2013 | 118 min | Canadian Premiere. What do topless Ukrainian women, Syrian dissidents and Wall Street Occupiers have in common? A colourful new tactic—creative non-violent protest. See why and how modern pacifism is winning in this slick tribute to disobedience.
THE GREAT INVISIBLE D: Margaret Brown | USA | 2014 | 92 min | Canadian Premiere. With unprecedented access, this comprehensive documentary utilizes an investigative eye and a humanizing touch to examine the causes and impacts of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico .
I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY D: Chad Walker, Dave LaMattina | USA | 2014 | 85 min | World Premiere. With an incredible archive of home videos, the story of Caroll Spinney reveals how a big heart and unstoppable talent created two of the world’s most beloved Muppets, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.
MISSION BLUE D: Robert Nixon, Fisher Stevens | USA | 2013 | 95 min | Canadian Premiere. The trailblazing career of internationally renowned oceanographer and eco-activist Sylvia Earle is celebrated in this beautifully shot testament to her passionate commitment to saving the world’s oceans and its imperiled inhabitants.
POINT AND SHOOT D: Marshall Curry | USA | 2014 | 82 min | International Premiere. Baltimore native Matthew VanDyke shares extraordinary visual tales of his adventures motorcycling across the Middle East —including when he joins forces with Libyan rebels to oust Muammar Gaddafi, is captured and held in solitary confinement for six months.
RETURN TO HOMS D: Talal Derki | Syria , Germany | 2013 | 87 min | Canadian Premiere. Filmed over the course of two years, Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize-winner Return to Homs takes us into the lives of two friends caught in the middle of the raging civil war in Syria .
RICH HILL D: Andrew Droz Palermo, Tracy Droz Tragos | USA | 2014 | 92 min | International Premiere. In a small rural town, three young residents find themselves dreaming big but living small in this achingly beautiful, Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning depiction of adolescence.
SACRO GRA D: Gianfranco Rosi | Italy , France | 2013 | 93 min | Canadian Premiere. Following the stories and endeavours of citizens living and working along the giant ring road that encircles Rome , this Venice Golden Lion winner paints an enchanting portrait of everyday moments in The Eternal City.
THE SHEIK D: Igal Hecht | Canada | 2014 | 95 min | World Premiere. Every hero needs a villain. Without the Iron Sheik there could be no Hulkamania. Khosrow Vaziri’s transformation from Olympic wrestler to American pop culture icon is a personal and emotional tale that will “make you humble.”
UKRAINE IS NOT A BROTHEL D: Kitty Green | Australia , Ukraine | 2013 | 80 min | Canadian Premiere. Ukraine’s gorgeous group of topless feminist activists, FEMEN, take off their shirts to take on their government, exposing gender inequality and government corruption through their provocative public protests.
WHITEY: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. JAMES J. BULGER D: Joe Berlinger | USA | 2014 | 90 min | Canadian Premiere. Oscar-nominated director Joe Berlinger strips away the myths surrounding infamous Boston gangster and FBI informant James “Whitey” Bulger, exposing the truth behind his criminal empire and revealing shocking new allegations of government corruption and complicity.
Hot Docs is North America ’s largest documentary festival, conference and market, and it will present its 21st annual edition from April 24 – May 4, 2014. As always, there is more information online.