Hot Docs 2023
by Staff Editors
(March 28, 2023 – Toronto) Details of the 30th anniversary Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival were unveiled this morning at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. As usual, the numbers help tell the tale. This year, organizers received 2848 submissions, selecting less than 10 percent for Northern America’s largest documentary festival. This year there are 214 films from 72 countries in 13 programs. Of the 214 there will be 70 World and 33 International premieres. Almost half, more than 100 official selections will also stream nationwide on Hot Docs at Home starting the final weekend of the Festival, May 5-9. Hot Docs’ commitment to gender parity sees 53% of the directors in the official selection identify as female.
“2023 marks 30 years of Hot Docs in Toronto, and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate this milestone with our audiences, supporters, and talented filmmakers,” said Shane Smith, Hot Docs’ artistic director. “As Hot Docs has grown and evolved over the last 30 years, so too has the inventiveness, impact and craft of documentary filmmaking. Filmmakers continue to thrill us with unexpected approaches, unforgettable subjects and exceptional storytelling, and their outspoken, outstanding films continue to inspire and inform Hot Docs’ passionate audiences. We’re truly honoured to present a showcase of the finest documentary films from Canada and over 70 countries around the world at this year’s Festival.”
Hot Docs 2023 will open its 30th-anniversary Festival with Twice Colonized, directed by Danish director Lin Alluna. The film centres on renowned Greenlandic Inuit lawyer, activist, and fierce protector of her ancestral lands, Aaju Peter, who has led a lifelong fight for the rights of her people. When her son suddenly dies, Aaju embarks on a journey to reclaim her language and culture after a lifetime of whitewashing and forced assimilation as she fights for the human rights of Indigenous people of the Arctic, working to bring her colonizers in Canada and Denmark to justice. A trailer for the film was introduced by two of the producers, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril and Stacey Aglok MacDonald, pictured below.
Regular readers will know our focus is somewhere between strictly and mainly Canadian. The Canadian Spectrum at Hot Docs is a competitive program showcasing bold new works by Canadian directors. It includes the world premieres of Cynara, the gripping story of Canada’s justice system on trial; I’m Just Here for The Riot, a look into the world’s “first smartphone riot” after the Vancouver Canucks lost the 2011 Stanley Cup final; July Talk: Love Lives Here, in which the hard-touring band books a drive-in theatre in hopes of bouncing back from the pandemic’s live music shut-downs; Silvicola, exploring the human impact on forests through breathtaking vistas and poignant vignettes set in Canada’s Pacific Northwest; Someone Lives Here, the story of a young Toronto carpenter building life-saving shelters for unhoused people while also facing staunch opposition from the city government; Subterranean, in which two gritty teams of hobbyist cavers are poised to discover the longest and deepest caves in Canada; and Upstream, in which the filmmaker revisits childhood friends in Northern China’s rustbelt. The Canadian Spectrum program is sponsored by TVO.
Canadian filmmaker Barry Avrich returns to Hot Docs with Without Precedent: The Supreme Life of Rosalie Abella, a portrait of Canada’s first female Jewish Supreme Court Judge, a passionate advocate for the disabled community and visible minorities. A still from the film, pictured above, was part of today’s media launch of the festival. It screens as part of the Special Presentations program.
Other programs include the International Spectrum, The World Showcase; Artscapes, Nightvision, Persisters, Markers, Deep Dive, and several more. There’s also a showcase of recent films from Ukraine that makes up the Made In program.
Hot Docs’ 30th-anniversary Festival will pay homage to Canadian film producer, visual researcher and clearance specialist Elizabeth Klinck with its annual Focus On tribute, celebrating the work of Canadian filmmakers and craftspeople who have made a significant contribution to the documentary landscape. On Thursday, May 4, at 5:30 pm, Klinck will be joined on stage by award-winning documentary director Jennifer Baichwal for Working Together: The Visual Researcher And The Director: A Conversation between Elizabeth Klinck and Jennifer Baichwal, an illuminating conversation about the integral role of archival research and producing in the documentary filmmaking process. The Focus On Elizabeth Klinck program is supported by K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation.
Not to be missed, the Hamburg-based collective A Wall is a Screen will take Hot Docs out of the cinema and onto the streets for A Wall is a Screen: Toronto, a free outdoor film event taking place on-site at Toronto’s historic Ontario Place.
There is much, much more information online. Also, starting today, March 28, festival ticket package holders, including Doc Soup subscribers, can redeem their ticket packages, and Hot Docs Members can purchase single tickets. Starting Tuesday, April 4, single tickets will be available to the public. Tickets and ticket packages can be purchased and/or redeemed online.
Also see: Special Presentations at Hot Docs 2023.
Photos by Ralph Lucas for Northernstars.ca
Source: Hot Docs