(May 7, 2016 – Toronto, ON) There are only two days left, today and tomorrow, before Hot Docs wraps on what will be another highly successful year. There are 8 Canadian films on today’s schedule and the first of them plays at 10 this morning at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, where documentaries can be enjoyed all year long.
Spaceship Earth from director Kevin McMahon while similar to the IMAX film A Beautiful Planet, stands on its own as a must see film about this tiny blue ball we occupy and use and abuse. Using stunning footage that looks back at our planet from space, McMahon gently prods the audience into the realization that we’re all in trouble here on Earth. The people doing the prodding are prominent thinkers, astronauts and activists who all in their own words remind us we are crew members, not passengers, on this spaceship we call home. Spaceship Earth’s last screening is at 10AM at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.
Three films crowd the early afternoon schedule. They are After Circus at 1PM and The Prison in Twelve Landscapes and A Dog’s Life at 1:30.
After Circus is set in the retirement community of retired and semi-retired circus performers living in Sarasota, Florida. This 80-minute doc features a cast of characters who share their former exploits and current challenges with humour and warmth. The film also features some breathtaking performances by renowned circus stars like Dolly Jacobs, an aerialist who at 55 defies age and gravity to wow crowds. After Circus screens at 1PM at the Scotiabank Theatre.
The Prison in Twelve Landscapes was best described by Alexander Rogalski in his Hot Docs blurb: “Purposely avoiding the obvious imagery of penitentiaries, Brett Story’s distinctive vignettes draw attention to the changing landscape of the prison complex through the perspectives of individuals affected by it. Pocket parks in Los Angeles designed to prevent released sex offenders from settling nearby, and formerly incarcerated chess players unable to find work, raise questions about the efficacy of reintegration. In this brilliant investigation of the American prison system’s pervasive influence, the formalist structure fosters discovery and contemplation about issues of race, power and poverty through a cinematic journey across the land of the free.” The Prison in Twelve Landscapes screens for the last time at 1:30 this afternoon at the Scotiabank Theatre.
In the film A Dog’s Life, director Hélène Choquette has created a touching tale of the companionship between the homeless and their pets. As Lynn Fernie writes for Hot Docs, “In large cities with a substantial homeless population, it’s a common sight to see panhandlers on the sidewalk huddled up on a cold winter’s day with their loyal dogs. Some wonder how they can afford to take care of a pet, let alone themselves. What’s important to realize is that these dogs provide many homeless people with a lifeline-they offer unconditional love to those who have often suffered abuse, as well as stability and warmth on cold nights. But few shelters accept pets, forcing people already isolated and marginalized to make the incredibly difficult decision to give up their beloved animals if they want a roof and a bed.” A Dog’s Life has its final screening today at 1:30 at the TIFF Bell Light Box.
One of our favourites here at Northernstars is the remarkably beautiful Koneline: Our Land Beautiful from director Nettie Wild. Set in the territory the Tahltan First Nation has occupied for thousands of years in remote northwestern British Columbia, their own word for this place is “koneline” which means “our land beautiful” as well as “our mind beautiful,” inextricably weaving human consciousness with the health of the land. Copper and gold mining companies call the area “the golden triangle,” while hunting outfitters refer to it as “Canada’s Serengeti.” Award-winning director Nettie Wild crafts a breathtaking love letter that captures the majestic beauty of the land and the unique people who live on it. Click here to watch Nettie Wild talk to Northernstars about her film, which screens for the last time at Hot Docs today at 3:15 at the Hart House Theatre.
If you like the blues you’ll love I Am The Blues. It’s the tale of Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, who has been running the Blue Front Cafe for 43 years in Mississippi. As they say in the Hot Docs blurb, “Bobby Rush, Barbara Lynn, Lazy Lester and their friends guide this musical travelogue from front porches to church halls, sharing stories and sliding their strings to create one of the most authentic moving tributes to the last of the original blues devils.” I Am the Blues from director Daniel Cross screens at 3:45PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Wizard Mode is all about mastering classic pinball arcade games. It’s a talent or ability that requires focus, agility and dedication. Robert Gagno has all these traits. It might explain why he surged from a complete unknown to one of the world’s best players in just five years. The achievement is even more impressive considering he was diagnosed with autism at age three. His success on the pinball circuit made him part of a community that provided acceptance and encouragement. The film tracks Gagno’s progress as he overcomes obstacles and manages the highs of success and lows of falling short. Directed by Nathan Drillot and Jeff Petry, Wizard Mode is, as Hot Docs’ Alexander Rogalski puts it, “flashing lights and triple combos highlight an outstanding individual who continues to beat the odds and set records.” Wizard Mode has its final screening at 6:15PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Any mention of time machines brings the name H.G.Wells to the fore and so its no surprise that the film How To Build a Time Machine was inspired by the science-fiction author. The book itself, published in 1895, has been made into a movie in 1960 and again in 2002. This film teams an animator with a physicist as they pursue very different approaches to time travel. How To Build a Time Machine from director Jay Cheel has its final screen tonight at 8:45 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.