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Hot Docs 2023 – Special Presentations

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Hot Docs Cinema, image,

Hot Docs 2023 – Special Presentations
by Staff Editors

(March 22, 2023 – Toronto, ON) When the 30th anniversary edition of the Hot Docs Film Festival kicks off on April 27th, there will be plenty to see. It is usual for the festival to screen around 225 films during its run. Yesterday it announced the 24 films that will screen in this ear’s Special Presentations program. These films cover a full range of interests. From music (Joan Baez and Donna Summer) to celebrity (Michael J. Fox and Bethann Hardison) to current events (The Rise of Wagner), there is literally something for everybody, and this is just the beginning.

BLACK BARBIE: A DOCUMENTARY
D: Lagueria Davis | P: Aaliyah Williams, Lagueria Davis | USA | 2023 | 100 min | International Premiere
We all know the Malibu blonde with a big head and bigger fan following, but do you know her Black counterpart? Discover the true story of Black Barbie from her origins to her contemporary presence in Mattel’s metaverse of dolls.

BLIX NOT BOMBS
D: Greta Stocklassa | P: Radovan Síbrt, Alžbeta Karásková, Erik Winker, Mario Adamson | Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden | 2023 | 85 min | North American Premiere 
What the hell is happening in the world? A millennial filmmaker looks to UN diplomat Hans Blix, who led the investigation into weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, for answers. Can diplomacy still play a role in averting catastrophe?

THE DEEPEST BREATH
D: Laura McGann | P: John Battsek, Sarah Thomson, Jamie D’Alton, Anne McLoughlin, Robert Ford | UK, Ireland | 2022 | 109 min | Canadian Premiere
Champion free-diver Alessia and safety diver Stephen seemed destined for one another above and below the water. Experience the astonishing risks they take as Stephen helps Alessia chase her dream of a new world record in this thrilling ocean epic.

The Disappearance of Shere Hite, Hot Docs, image,

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SHERE HITE (Pictured above)
D: Nicole Newnham | P: Nicole Newnham, Molly O’Brien, R.J. Cutler, Elise Pearlstein, Kimberley Ferdinando, Trevor Smith | USA | 2023 | 118 min | International Premiere
Shere Hite’s 1976 bestseller, The Hite Report, liberated the female orgasm by revealing the private experiences of thousands of anonymous women. While her findings rocked the patriarchy, they also ignited an unforgiving backlash that led to her erasure from history.

EL EQUIPO
D: Bernardo Ruiz | P: Bernardo Ruiz, Gabriela Alcalde, Fabian Caballero | USA | 2023 | 80 min | Canadian Premiere
Follow an epic and harrowing 40-year journey through the work of a resilient team of forensic scientists led by the legendary Dr. Clyde Snow as they uncover and identify the victims of authoritarian regimes across Latin America and the world.

FOOD AND COUNTRY
D: Laura Gabbert | P: Laura Gabbert, Ruth Reichl, Paula P. Manzanedo, Caroline Libresco | USA | 2023 | 99 min | International Premiere 
Concerned about the survival of small farmers, ranchers and chefs hobbled by America’s policy of producing cheap food, Ruth Reichl, trailblazing chef, food writer and editor reaches across political and social divides to uncover a broken food system and innovators risking everything to transform it.

IGOR LEVIT – NO FEAR
D: Regina Schilling | P: Thomas Kufus | Germany | 2022 | 118 min | North American Premiere 
The sold-out world tour of classical piano sensation Igor Levit was an intended focus of this up-close portrait, but when COVID hits, a career-defining crisis takes centre stage. Witness a true virtuoso transform musical performance with or without an audience.

INNOCENCE
D: Guy Davidi | P: Sigrid Dyekjær, Hilla Medalia, Margreth Jonasdottir, Kaarle Aho | Denmark, Israel, Finland, Iceland | 2022 | 100 min | Canadian Premiere
Mandatory service in the Israeli Defense Forces makes citizens confront the prospect of violence and the inevitable choice to accept, reject or rationalize it. Diaries and videos of both eager and reluctant recruits question whether innocence and militarization can co-exist.

Invisible Beauty, Hot Docs,

INVISIBLE BEAUTY (Pictured above)
D: Bethann Hardison, Frédéric Tcheng | P: Lisa Cortés, Paul Dallas | USA | 2023 | 115 min | Canadian Premiere
Pioneering Black model Bethann Hardison turns the camera on herself as she takes us behind the runway and into her life as agent, activist, and, most importantly, a mentor in the fight for racial diversity.

IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?
D: Ella Glendining | P: Janine Marmot | UK | 2023 | 87 min | Canadian Premiere
While navigating daily discrimination, a filmmaker who loves her unusual body searches the world for another person like her, as she explores what it takes to love oneself fiercely despite the pervasiveness of ableism.

IT’S ONLY LIFE AFTER ALL
D: Alexandria Bombach | P: Kathlyn Horan, Jessica Devaney, Anya Rous, Alexandria Bombach | USA | 2023 | 123 min | Canadian Premiere
In this poignant reflection from Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, the iconic folk-rock duo Indigo Girls offer a timely look into the obstacles, activism and life lessons of two queer friends who never expected to make it big.

Joan Baez, Hot Docs,

JOAN BAEZ I AM A NOISE
D: Karen O’Connor, Miri Navasky, Maeve O’Boyle | P: Miri Navasky, Karen O’Connor | USA | 2023 | 113 min | Canadian Premiere
In this searingly honest and intimate look at a living legend, Joan Baez brings us into her world both on and off the stage—from lifelong emotional struggles to her civil rights work with MLK and a heartbreaking romance with Bob Dylan.

LOVE TO LOVE YOU, DONNA SUMMER
D: Roger Ross Williams, Brooklyn Sudano | P: Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn, Roger Ross Williams, David Blackman, J. Daniel Torres | USA | 2023 | 107 min | Canadian Premiere
Featuring a trove of exclusive, previously unseen footage, the life and times of the one and only Donna Summer are richly detailed in this vibrant exploration of the singer whose iconic voice changed music forever.

THE MAN WHO STOLE EINSTEIN’S BRAIN
D: Michelle Shephard | P: Bryn Hughes, Carolyn Abraham | Canada | 2022 | 78 min | World Premiere
On April 18, 1955, the pathologist performing the autopsy on Albert Einstein covertly steals the genius’s brain, hoping to uncover the secret of brilliance. His good intentions and scientific ambitions collide with harsh realities as his world crumbles.

PERIODICAL
D: Lina Lyte Plioplyte | P: Pegah Farahmand | USA | 2022 | 95 min | International Premiere
Enough with “being on the rag” and ditch “Aunt Flo,” it’s time to start treating menstruation with some respect. Activists, doctors and celebrities deconstruct sexist junk science and share the truth: your period is an asset and not “the curse.”

PRAYING FOR ARMAGEDDON
D: Tonje Hessen Schei, Michael Rowley | P: Torstein Parelius, Ingrid G. Aune Falch, Christian Aune Falch | Norway | 2022 | 96 min | North American Premiere
By infiltrating the machinery of the US politics, powerful American Evangelicals push to realize the biblical prophecy of Armageddon and manifest the Apocalypse, exercising influence that not only threatens American democracy but also foreign policy in the Middle East.

THE RISE OF WAGNER
D: Benoît Bringer | P: Laurent Richard | France | 2022 | 104 min | World Premiere
Wagner Group mercenaries contracted to fight Russia’s proxy wars have never been prosecuted for suspected human rights violations—until now. In this chilling expose, journalists crack open secret killings and Kremlin collusion that have kept the business of dirty wars above the law.

STEPHEN CURRY: UNDERRATED
D: Peter Nicks | P: Peter Nicks, Ryan Coogler, Erick Peyton, Sean Havey, Ben Cotner, Marissa Torres Ericson | USA | 2023 | 110 min | International Premiere
The life of one of the greatest NBA players playing today is explored with unprecedented access, from his humble beginnings to his now historic record-breaking career.

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, image, Sundance,

STILL: A MICHAEL J. FOX MOVIE
D: Davis Guggenheim | P: Davis Guggenheim, Annetta Marion, Jonathan King, Will Cohen | USA | 2022 | 95 min | Canadian Premiere
With trademark wit, honesty and insight, Canadian icon Michael J. Fox recounts his improbable rise to the heights of Hollywood stardom alongside his private journey following his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease at 29.

THEATRE OF VIOLENCE
D: Lukasz Konopa, Emil Langballe | P: Helle Faber, Heidi Kim Andersen | Denmark | 2023 | 106 min | North American Premiere
As the first former child soldier–a forced recruit into Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army–faces trial in The Hague, his lawyer prepares a compelling defense that questions the international justice system, culpability and how communities recover from trauma.

TIME BOMB Y2K
D: Marley McDonald, Brian Becker | P: Brian Becker | USA | 2023 | 80 min | Canadian Premiere
As the year 2000 approaches, the tech industry discovers a computer flaw that could ignite the largest technological disaster in human history. Crafted entirely through archival footage, examine the rising hysteria and concerning fragility of the technological world we have created.

TOTAL TRUST
D: Jialing Zhang | P: Knut Jäger, Jialing Zhang | Germany, Netherlands, China | 2023 | 97 min | North American Premiere
China is creating a comprehensive, digitally controlled state using Big Data, biometrics and voice recognition technology to track its citizens. Total Trust explores the transformation of social behaviours under an all-seeing eye and how people are fighting against its abuse.

WE ARE GUARDIANS
D: Edivan Guajajara, Chelsea Greene, Rob Grobman | P: Maura Anderson, Zak Kilberg, Fisher Stevens, Chelsea Greene | Brazil, USA | 2023 | 85 min | World Premiere
In this expansive character-driven exposé, Indigenous guardians of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil fight to protect their territories from the ravages of extractive industries, confronting deforestation by illegal loggers, corrupt politicians and profit hungry global corporations.

WHO’S AFRAID OF NATHAN LAW?
D: Joe Piscatella | P: Matthew Torne, Mark Rinehart, Joe Piscatella | USA, Hong Kong, UK | 2023 | 90 min | World Premiere
Revolutionary at 21. Lawmaker at 23. Most Wanted at 26. With intimate access to the leaders of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution, Who is Afraid of Nathan Law? chronicles one of the world’s most famous dissidents in his fight for democracy against a superpower. 

WITHOUT PRECEDENT: THE SUPREME LIFE OF ROSALIE ABELLA
D: Barry Avrich | P: Mark Selby, Barry Avrich, Rosemary Sadlier, Jonas Prince | Canada | 2023 | 84 min | World Premiere
Canada’s first female Jewish Supreme Court Judge reflects on a career that made her a human rights hero. As a passionate advocate for the disabled community and visible minorities, she commands respect across the political spectrum.

Hot Docs 2023 runs from April 27 to May 7. Tickets, passes and packages are available now.

SOURCE: Hot Docs