(May 5, 2017 – Toronto, ON) The March of Time brings us to the final Friday at the 24th annual Hot Docs Film Festival and there will be a bit of a scramble to catch Canadian films this morning because there are seven titles screening between 10:00AM and 1:15PM. You’ll need to choose wisely because for many, if not all, these will be their last screenings at this year’s festival.
At 10:00AM its Who is Arthur Chu? looks into the life of the 11-time winner who “hacked” the TV show Jeopardy! and won big, becoming one of the show’s most controversial contestants. He’s using his newfound celebrity to battle dark forces on the Internet as a blogger and cultural pundit. Co-directed by Yu Gu and Scott Drucker, Who is Arthur Chu? screens at the Tiff Bell Lightbox.
Mermaids is a light romp with some deeper moments about our curiosity with the myths and realities of life as a mermaid. The archival footage from a Florida theme park is worth the price of entry alone. The cast of characters who all become modern day mermaids is fascinating and the “chapters” in the film are separated with very short mermaid myths which gives everything some historical perspective. It is definitely worth catching and this is its last of four screenings today at 12:00 noon at the Scotia 7 in downtown Toronto.
At 12:30 you have a choice of two Canadian films. Rebels on Pointe and Let There Be Light. Let There Be Light is for the scientific-minded or for those just curious about the future of the planet. Directors Mila Aung-Thwin and Van Royko investigate the attempts to create a small duplicate version of our sun here on earth. Why? Potentially abundant and cheap energy with no pollution. It’s a worthy quest if highly complicated and massively expensive, which is why this documentary makes for some very compelling story-telling. Let There Be Light is screening at the cavernous Hart House Theatre on the campus of the University of Toronto.
This is last screening of Rebels on Pointe from Hot Docs Singular Sensations program. Director Bobbi Jo Hart whose first documentary was released in 1997. Rebels On Pointe is the first cinema verite film ever made about the notorious Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the all male, drag ballet company founded in New York City in 1974 on the heels of the Stonewall riots… and who now have a cult following around the world. To prove that point this film follows the troupe as it makes its way from Japan to Canada and across Europe. In an interview on the website We Are Moving Stories, Bobbi Jo Hart said, “You should watch this film because it is a fascinating, funny and deeply touching story about people reaching for their dreams, braving the societal pressures of “the norm” to break through ceilings and embrace their identity and passion in life. Rebels on Pointe is screening at 12:30 at the Scotia 13.
At 12:45 it’s the final screening of Vancouver: No Fixed Address. The buzz about house prices in Toronto and Vancouver seems to have reached a constant dull roar, which makes director Charles Wilkinson’s doc very timely. Vancouver: No Fixed Address is all about affordable housing in a market where house prices seem to rise on an hourly basis. The rich get to live there but thousands upon thousands face the reality that they have been priced out of the dream of ever owning their own home. Vancouver: No Fixed Address screens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 2.
At 1:00PM Ghosts of Our Forest has its second of three screenings. Director Daniel Roher takes his camera to Uganda and tells the story of the Batwa people. In 1992, the pygmy Batwa were removed from their ancestral homes by the government to protect the habitat of the endangered gorilla population. Given no compensation, the Batwa people were left to fend for themselves and most now live in poverty. To help his people, 24-year-old Gad Semejeri formed the Batwa Music Club, singing and dancing the spiritual and traditional music of the Batwa. This documentary follows the members as they prepare and rehearse for a concert in Kampala where they hope to raise awareness of the injustice they have thrust on them and their dire situation. Ghosts of Our Forest screens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 3.
At 1:15PM it’s The Quiet Zone. This is a 45-minute documentary is set in a remote corner of West Virginia where the world’s largest steerable radio telescope is located. It’s there because there is hardly any other radio wave interference. The place also attracts people who suffer from extreme radio sensitivity. Thus, The Quiet Zone. Co-directed by Elisa Gonzalez and Daniel Froidevaux, The Quiet Zone screens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 4 and opens with the American 20-minute short, Silently Steal Away.
The Canada-Chile co-production Resurrecting Hassan has its final screening today. Director Carlo Guillermo Proto’s focuses his lens on a family of buskers who make their home in Montreal in this 100-minute documentary. Not special enough for you? Well, consider they are blind, and are still dealing with the almost impossible task of healing after the death of a child. They decide to seek the help of a Russian mystic healer to see if their second child, Hassan, can be resurrected from the dead. This screening of Resurrecting Hassan is at the Scotia 7.
At 3:45 it’s your last chance to see Maison du Bonheur. It’s an exquisitely constructed film broken into 30 segments each revealing something about a retired and vibrant French astrologer. It is, according to one write-up, “an ode to the beauty of everyday life.” Maison du Bonheur is directed by Sofia Bohdanowicz and runs 64 minutes. It screens with the 10-minute Japanese short A Friendship in Tow/Toe. Maison du Bonheur screens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 3.
At 4:30 catch the last screening of Integral Man. This doc focuses on the late Jim Stewart, an expect in math who wrote many books on the subject and used the wealth his books created to commission an outstanding and very different home in Toronto’s exclusive Rosedale neighbourhood. A home that was part office, part retreat, but most importantly a home that was also a performance space because Stewart once played violin and always maintained his love of music. The space was often used by fund-raisers and that was Stewart’s way of giving back. The house was named Integral House and thus the title of this film. Integral Man. It screens today at the Fox Theatre, which is located at 2236 Queen Street East.
Two films from the Democrazy program screen tonight at Hot Docs. The first is You’re Soaking In It from director Scott Harper. This 75-minute doc gives us a close up of the critical importance of Big Data. The right set of numbers can determine almost everything from what what you buy to who you vote for. As Big Data provides an exciting new frontier for industries to target their campaigns to individuals, the era of splashy billboards and catchy jingles may have given way to a much more sophisticated means of tapping into our subconscious. This is the last screening ion You’re Shaking In It and it’s tonight at 6:30 at the Scotia 3.
At 9:30 its State of Exception, a Canada-Brazil co-pro. Set in Rio de Janeiro as the city was making preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, director Jason O’Hara focuses on a community of self-described “urban Indians” who have banded together to fight against forced evictions. Their effort grows when they join forces with other marginalized groups.Writing for Hot Docs, Alexander Rogalski states, “ A familiar narrative has emerged as these roaming corporate sporting events descend upon metropolises, causing major disruption and corruption to local democracies while displacing the most vulnerable. This is the final screening for State of Exception, tonight at 9:15 at the Scotia 7.
Click here to see all the documentaries screening at Hot Docs 2017.