(March 18, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) Filmmakers and media began to gather early at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto this morning eager to hear what the 2014 festival holds in store. Things kicked off right on schedule and after the usual opening niceties, Hot Docs Director of Programming, Charlotte Cook, was behind the podium to talk about a few of the 197 films that have been selected from the 2,435 submissions received in this year`s call for entry. Sticking with stats, the films come from 43 countries and will screen in a total of 12 different programs.
“We are so proud to be showing these incredible films and combining them with amazing live events and experiences.” said Cook. “We truly hope it will be a festival of ideas, discussion and amazement and we’re looking forward to bringing the best filmmaking in the world to the world’s greatest audience.”
In addition to the opening night international premiere of Brian Knappenberger’s The Internet`s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, which is an inspiring and emotional portrait of a young Internet visionary, other notable films in the Special Presentations program include: Pavel Loparev and Askold Kurov’s Children 404, a firsthand account of LGBT youth in Russia; Anthony Baxter’s A Dangerous Game, an explosive tale of everyday heroes battling against Donald Trump’s development plans; Chad Walker and Dave LaMattina’s I am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, a big-hearted tale of the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch; Jesse Moss’ The Overnighters, depicting a local pastor risking everything to welcome the desperate men migrating to a small North Dakota community; Cynthia Hill’s Private Violence, a beautifully crafted story exploring the fact that the most dangerous place for a woman is her home; Igal Hecht’s The Sheik, a personal and emotional tale of Olympic wrestler and pop culture icon the Iron Sheik (pictured); and Joe Berlinger’s Whitey: UNited States of America vs James J. Bulger, which strips away the myths surrounding infamous Boston gangster and FBI informant James “Whitey” Bulger.
Because our focus at Northernstars is on Canadian films and filmmakers, we can tell you that this year`s offering cane be described by the single word, stellar. In the competitive Canadian Spectrum program, notable films include: Thomas Wallner’s Before the Last Curtain Falls, a stunning portrayal of the tumultuous off-stage lives of six aging Belgian transvestites and transsexual performers; Vic Sarin’sThe Boy from Geita, the story of a young Tanzanian boy with albinism surviving a brutal attack and given hope with the promise of surgery in Canada; Ray Klonsky and Marc Lamy’s David & Me, following a tenacious filmmaker’s quest to prove a man’s innocence 28 years after his incarceration; Julia Kwan’sEverything Will Be, a heartwarming and cinematically stunning ode to a Vancouver community in transition; Tony Girardin’s Marinoni, the story of Canada’s most revered bicycle craftsman attempting a world cycling record at 75 years old; John Kastner’sOut of Mind, Out of Sight, which follows the filmmaker’s return to the Brockville Mental Health Centre to capture patients struggling for control of their lives; and Amar Wala’s The Secret Trial 5, the shocking story of five Muslim men imprisoned without charge under Canada’s controversial security certificates policy.
The films by Kwan and Kastner are just two of seven National Film Board documentaries that will screen at this year`s festival. A third is the film Jutra. With an ingenious assembly of archival footage and animated sequences, director Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre creates a clever and astute cinephile portrait of Claude Jutra, the director of Mon oncle Antoine.
Bound to be one of the more popular screenings is the Canadian film Super Duper Alice Cooper. Directors Reginald Harkema, Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn (pictured below) will not only be at the festival, but joining them onstage will be the subject of their documentary, the legendary rocker Alice Cooper. But the big news about the film was unveiled by Hot Docs Executive Director, Brett Hendrie who caused attendees to erupt in applause when he announced that the film`s Canadian premiere and a post-screening Q&A will be simulcast to 47 theatres across Canada as part of Cineplex Entertainment’s Front Row Centre Events. “If I said we had a secret plan to bring Alice Cooper, three great Canadian filmmakers, and the Hot Docs Festival into communities coast-to-coast, I’d be lying,” said Hendrie, “But, happily these pieces came together and now national audiences from Saint John to Victoria will be able to attend Hot Docs.”
Super Duper Alice Cooper is the story of Vincent Furnier, preacher’s son, who struck fear into the hearts of parents as Alice Cooper, the ultimate rock star of the bizarre. The film is the first ever “doc opera”—a dizzying blend of documentary archive footage, animation and rock opera—and features exclusive interviews with members of the original Alice Cooper Group, Elton John, Iggy Pop, John Lydon, Dee Snider and of course, Alice himself. This special screening will take place on Monday, April 28, at 9:00 pm at Toronto`s downtown Scotiabank Theatre.
The Redux program at this year`s Hot Docs will highlight five films that deserve another outing on the big screen. Additionally, Hot Docs will present two retrospective programs: Focus On John Zaritsky, a mid-career retrospective of the filmmaker’s work; and the Outstanding Achievement Award Retrospective, honouring the influential work of English documentary filmmaker and journalist Adam Curtis. Also a premier documentary conference and market, Hot Docs will be welcoming over 2,000 industry delegates who will partake in a wide array of industry events and services, including conferences sessions, receptions and parties, Hot Docs Deal Maker, The Doc Shop and the Hot Docs Forum, April 30 and May 1.