15 Special Presentations at Hot Docs
(March 5, 2019, Toronto, ON) Hot Docs has announced the titles of 15 documentary features that will screen in this year’s Special Presentations program, as part of the 26th annual edition of North America’s largest documentary festival. The list includes six Canadian productions or co-productions and two of them were produced by Peter Raymont. Special Presentations features are a high-profile collection of world and international premieres, award winners from the recent international festival circuit and works by master filmmakers or featuring star subjects.
Notable subjects featured as part of the Special Presentations program include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, newly elected Democratic Congressperson and the youngest woman ever to serve in the United States Congress (Knock Down the House); Diana Kennedy, the “Mick Jagger of Mexican cuisine” (Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy); and Pulitzer Prize–winning author N. Scott Momaday, one of Native America’s most celebrated literary figures (N. Scott Momaday: Words From a Bear). Award winners from the recent international festival circuit include Always in Season, which won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for Moral Urgency at Sundance this year, and Knock Down the House, which won Sundance’s Festival Favorite Award this year.
Following, in alphabetical order are the Special Presentation titles announced today:
D: Rachel Leah Jones, Philippe Bellaiche | P: Joëlle Bertossa, Paul Cadieux | Canada, Israel, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland | 2019 | 105 min | Canadian Premiere
As one of the few Israeli human-rights lawyers willing to defend Palestinians, Lea Tsemel has been defying hostility and vitriol from the public and press for nearly 50 years to fight for clients in a stacked system.
ALWAYS IN SEASON
D: Jacqueline Olive | P: Jacqueline Olive, Jessica Devaney | USA | 2019 | 88 min | International Premiere
The unresolved case of a Black teen found hanging from a swing set in North Carolina in 2014 is the lens through which this searing doc examines the lingering trauma of more than a century of lynching and continued racial violence.
ASSHOLES: A THEORY
D: John Walker | P: Ann Bernier, Annette Clarke, John Walker | Canada | 2019 | 81 min | North American Premiere
Inspired by the New York Times bestselling book, this lively philosophical investigation into the rise of asshole behaviour across the world asks: What does it mean to be an asshole, and more importantly, how do we stop their proliferation?
D: Heddy Honigmann | P: John Appel | Netherlands | 2018 | 86 min | Canadian Premiere
Master documentarian Heddy Honigmann turns her eye for authenticity and genuine interview to the complex relationships between service dogs and their owners. Witness canine humanity and life-altering trust at work in this observational marvel.
THE CORPORATE COUP D’ETAT
D: Fred Peabody | P: Peter Raymont | Canada | 2018 | 90 min | Canadian Premiere
Piercing insights from journalist Chris Hedges and philosopher John Ralston Saul dissect America at a troubling crossroads, exposing Trump’s MAGA doctrine as a symptom of a broken democracy where power now lies with corporations, not citizens.
THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY
D: Petra Costa | P: Joanna Natasegara | Brazil | 2019 | 112 min | Canadian Premierebr/>
Featuring unprecedented access to former Brazilian presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva, the personal and political brilliantly combine in this unflinching exploration of one of the most dramatic and polarizing periods in Brazilian history.
D: Garry Keane, Andrew McConnell | P: Paul Cadieux, Brendan J. Byrne | Canada | 2018 | 90 min | Canadian Premiere
Fully blockaded and home to almost two million people, the Gaza Strip is portrayed in the news as the world’s largest open-air prison—but this rare immersion into everyday Palestinian life reveals the pressures of occupation and the humanity straining to flourish.
D: Adam Bolt | P: Sarah Goodwin, Meredith Desalazar, Elliot Kirschner | USA | 2019 | 107 min | Canadian Premiere
In a brave new world in which science fiction collides with fact and DNA sequences can be edited with ease, this provocative examination forces us to reconsider what it means to be human.
KILLING PATIENT ZERO
D: Laurie Lynd | P: Corey Russell | Canada | 2019 | 100 min | World Premiere
Skilfully revealing the homophobia behind the headlines, this doc traces the devastating impact of the 1980s AIDS epidemic and clears the name of the Québécois flight attendant who was infamously known as “patient zero.”
KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE
D: Rachel Lears | P: Rachel Lears, Robin Blotnick, Sarah Olson | USA | 2019 | 85 min | International Premiere
This rollercoaster ride follows four progressive women—including Bronx bartender Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—behind the scenes and in the streets as they grind through long-shot grassroots campaigns for Congress during the 2018 US midterms.
N. SCOTT MOMADAY: WORDS FROM A BEAR
D: Jeffrey Palmer | P: Jeffrey Palmer, Youngsun Palmer | USA | 2018 | 85 mins | International Premiere
The life and career of Pulitzer Prize–winning Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday, one of Native America’s most celebrated literary figures, is explored in this spiritual journey through the expansive landscapes of the West and New Mexico.
NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY
D: Elizabeth Carroll | P: Elizabeth Carroll, Dan Braun, Gina Abatemarco | USA | 2019 | 82 min | International Premiere
Dubbed “the Mick Jagger of Mexican cooking,” a 96-year-old firebrand chef who’s spent her career celebrating the country’s regional cuisines rushes to solidify her hard-earned legacy in the face of her own mortality.
D: Fredrik Gertten | P: Margarete Jangård | Sweden | 2019 | 92 min | North American Premiere
As skyrocketing housing prices and stagnant incomes squeeze families out of cities worldwide, a newly appointed UN specialist from Ottawa travels from Toronto to Barcelona to London and beyond, fighting to have affordable housing recognized as a human right.
D: Phyllis Ellis | P: Peter Raymont, Barri Cohen | Canada | 2019 | 90 min | World Premiere
Cancer, diabetes, developmental delays and more—the cosmetics industry’s ugly secrets are exposed through exclusive interviews with scientists, whistleblowers and consumer survivors who raise pressing questions about risks, regulations and the true cost of beauty.
THE TRIAL OF RATKO MLADIC
D: Henry Singer, Rob Miller | P: Henry Singer, Rob Miller, Ida Bruusgaard | UK, Norway | 2018 | 100 min | Canadian Premiere
Accused of horrific war crimes, the “Butcher of Bosnia” finally faces a verdict in the biggest trial since Nuremberg. Embedded with both the prosecution and defense, this courtroom thriller reveals the troublingly nuanced Serbian–Bosnian conflict that still rages on.
These Special Presentations will screen as part of the 2019 festival. Hot Docs is North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market running from April 25to May 5, 2019. The full selection of films to screen at Hot Docs 2019, including the opening night film, will be announced on March 19. Ticket packages and passes are now on sale online. Ticket package redemption and single ticket sales for Hot Docs members are available starting March 19. Single ticket sales open to the public on March 26.