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Hot Docs – Day 3

Hot Docs, Shiners,
Production still from the documentary, Shiners.

(April 29, 2017 – Toronto, ON) There are 48 films on today’s schedule, screening across the city at 12 different venues. As any festival filmgoer knows it’s often a juggling act to get from one cinema to another in time to catch the documentaries you want to see. There are a number of Canadian films today and one of them is free on a first-come, first-served basis.

It’s titled The Charter at 35. It is the most important document in our country and it’s celebrating an anniversary. In this 150th anniversary year, this documentary looks at the most important document in the nation, our Charter of Rights and Freedom. Former Supreme Court Justice, Ian Binnie takes viewers through the charter examining some of the most important issues facing Canadians today. This free screening is today at 1:00PM at the Tiff Bell Lightbox. Tickets will be available starting 1 hour before screen time.

But the Canadian films start earlier than that. At 10:00AM it’s the second screening of Let There Be Light. This is a doc 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. It’s screening at the Scotia 3 in downtown Toronto.

At 1:00PM director Barry Avrich takes us inside the world of art in a dazzling film with all the high-end production values of a Hollywood feature film. It’s fitting in this film, titled Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World, because it’s world unto itself that is usually thought of as some staid destination of patrons and artists and curators and collectors. Avrich shows us it can also be a world seething with greed, the need to acquire and how rices can be manipulated for the sake of profit and pride. Part of the Artscapes program at Hot Docs, this 2nd screening of Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World is at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.

At 1:30PM, Who is Arthur Chu? gets its second screening at Hot Docs. Arthur Chu was 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. It’s screening at the Tiff Bell Lightbox.

Mermaids, film, image,
Production still from the documentary, Mermaids.

At 2:30, it’s the 2nd screening of Mermaids. It’s 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. Worth catching. If you miss it today it screens again on Monday May 1st and next Friday, May 5th.

There are three Canadian films clustered around the 7:00PM hour. At 6:45 at the Scotia 4 it’s Motel. Director Jesse McCracken sets this doc in Niagara Falls, known as the Honeymoon Capital of the World. But this isn’t about newlyweds, it’s about the structure itself. A small hotel is converted into affordable housing. Motel screens with he 18 minute short, Babe, I Hate to Go from Director Andrew Moir.

Production still from the documentary Hope.

At 7:00PM at the Tiff Bell Lightbox, Alan Zweig unveils what could be considered as Chapter 2 in the story of Steve Fonyo. To remember the brave 18-year-old who ran across Canada after losing his left leg to cancer and to see him portrayed today as a fallen idol is at times maddening and at times very sad. Zweig’s first Fonyo film was titled Hurt. This one is titled Hope and ultimately that’s what this doc delivers. It is almost impossible not to hope that this once famous recipient of the Order of Canada has found a way to become the man the boy once was. NOTE: Northernstars has recorded an interview with Alan Zweig which will be posted as soon as it comes out of the edit suite.

At 7:30 at the Isabel Bader Theatre on Charles Street, the intriguing and eye-opening Shiners gets its first of three screenings. Shiners is about putting your best foot forward thanks to the people who make sure your shoes look their best. It’s a delightful and uplifting story of people who have chosen to serve some special calling. People who are proud of their work and who often come from some surprising former occupations. Shiners screens with the US short He Who Dances on Wood. If you miss Shiners tonight it screens again tomorrow and also on May 4th.

Tonight at 9:00 at the Tiff Bell Lightbox there is a film that contains all the elements of a grand Shakespearian drama. My Enemy, My Brother is about how two men who once met on the battlefield during the Iran-Iraq war meet again years later in Vancouver. One of them sets out on a quest to find a long lost child left behind so many years ago. The story of these two men, once enemies and now as close as brothers is remarkable filmmaking and Ann Shin has created a compelling story worthy of your attention and support. This is its first screening. My Enemy, My Brother will play again on Monday, May 1st and next Saturday, May 6th.

Also at 9:00PM at the Scotia 7, the 65-minute doc Rue de la Victoire follows the life of a gifted performer who is forced to leave post-war Tunisia after the circus school he was attending closes. Pursuing his art in France allows him to see things differently and to come to terms with his past and his future after he returns home. Rue de la Victoire screens with the 20-minute short, The Botanist.

Click here for the complete lineup of films at the 2017 Hot Docs Canadian and International Documentary Festival.