Hot Docs on Tuesday
(April 29, 2019 – Toronto, ON) Tomorrow is Day 6 of Hot Docs and there are more films on the day’s schedule than anyone could possibly see. We counted 45 and that doesn’t include the free Visual Realty projects available at the Autodesk Technology Centre. More about that later in this article. Of the 45 feature documentaries, we found 11 Canadian productions or co-productions and because it’s still in the first half of the festival, a few are Premiere screenings.
There are two films close to each other in terms of time that get the day started tomorrow morning at 10:00 it’s The Corporate Coup d’État. Directed by Fred Peabody and produced by Peter Raymont it runs 90-minutes and features journalist Chris Hedges and Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul who dissect the current state if events in the United States of America, exposing Trump’s MAGA doctrine as a symptom of a broken democracy where power now lies with corporations, not citizens. As the blurb on the Hot Docs website says, “If you think Amazon and Apple are controlling your life, you may sadly be right.” It’s first screening is a Canadian Premiere. Note: It was announced on Monday that Peter Raymond is this year’s recipient of the highly coveted Don Haig Award.
Corporate Coup d’État screens:
Tues. Apr. 30 at 10:00 a.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre
Fri. May 3 at 12:00 p.m. at Hart House Theatre
At 10:15 at Tiff Bell Lightbox (TBLB) The Daughter Tree will have its 2nd screening. Directed by Rama Rau, this 88-minute documentary is set in the Punjab region of India and more specifically in a village known as the Village of Men. No girls have been born there in more than 20 years. Men who wish to marry have to leave home to find a bride. The main focus of the film is Neelam Bala, described as “a warrior midwife” who works to save unborn baby girls, a more-than-difficult task given the cultural preference for sons. When a girl is born a fruit tree is planted and when she grows up she will have this tree as her own property and can use it to make a living and perhaps have some economic freedom through the sale of the tree’s fruit. A wonderful tale of resilience and determination against long and entrenched odds and cultural traditions.
The Daughter Tree screens:
Tue. Apr. 30 at 10:15 a.m. at TBLB 2
Thur. May 2 at 9:00 p.m. at Hart House Theatre
At 12:15 it’s When We Walk, a highly personal 79-minute film from Jason DaSilva, who focuses the camera on himself. Diagnosed with a severe form of multiple sclerosis more than a decade ago, DaSilva’s marriage ends and his ex-wife and his son move to Texas. DaSilva lives in New York City in part because of the care he gets there. If he moves so that he can be close to his son, he will lose his access to Medicaid. DaSilva uses a wheelchair and needs around-the-clock support and has tenaciously guarded his independence, despite using a wheelchair and requiring around-the-clock support. This is one of those films that is brutally honest, the story unvarnished, the participants real, honest, broken yet heroic.
When We Walk screens:
Tues. Apr. 30 at 12:45 p.m. at Isabel Bader Theatre
Fri. May 3 at 12:45 at Isabel Bader Theatre
Drag Kids focuses on four preteens who practice lip-syncing and getting their runway walk down pat in preparation of doing their stuff during the annual Montreal Pride celebration. Their parents are there to guide and encourage them on their journey, but it’s a film that is bound to generate controversy. The Washington Examiner, which is considered to be a right-leaning publication, in part of its review of the film earlier this year said, “There’s nothing politically correct about this new frontier; it’s abuse, merely distorted and cloaked in progressivism.” Maurie Alioff, a frequent contributor to Northernstars concludes his review of the film for POV Magazine by writing, “Overall, the film offers a rare glimpse into an unusual world that has received scant attention.” You can make up your own mind at one of the two remaining screenings.
Drag Kids screens:
Tue. Apr. 30 at 1:15 p.m. at TBLB 3
Fri. May 3 at 3:45 p.m. at TBLB 1
Next up is Cavebirds at 1:45 p.m. at the Tiff Bell Lightbox 4. Yes it does have something to do with birds, but it’s really about former Montrealer Howard Gan, a recently retired Chinese-Malaysian Canadian immigrant, and his daughter, the film’s director, who finds certain similarities and parallels in her father’s life and in his passion for a specific financial investment in the market and production of the key ingredient in bird’s nest soup.
Tue, Apr. 30 at 1:45 p.m. at TBLB 4
Fri, May 3 at 10:30 a.m. at TBLB 4
Propaganda is a powerful and eye-opening exploration of how we can be easily manipulated by powers trained to sell us something or make us believe something. Three artists, Kent Monkman, Shepard Fairey and Ai Weiwei (pictured above) roll out stories of how real events, real ideas, real threats can be twisted and sold back to us as something they are not. We live in a world where the American President can condemn the media as Fake News, and thrill his followers by using language unbecoming the office he holds. Bulls**t and propaganda surround us and this documentary is perfect for the times we now live in. There is one scene were Ai Weiwei uses children’s school backpacks to make a statement and it is devastating.
Tue. Apr. 30 at 3:15 p.m. at Isabel Bader Theatre
Fri. May 3 at 9:00 p.m. at TBLB 2
Illusions of Control is directed by Shannon Walsh. It’s a far-ranging film that examines what we are doing and have done to the only planet we can inhabit. The film concentrates on the stories of five women who deal with nuclear fallout, arsenic-laced water and desert dust storms in places like Fukushima, Chicago and Yellowknife. This is yet another film about the Anthropocene age we now live in and how we are destroying the planet and what survival in the future might look like.
Illusions of Control screens
Tue. Apr. 30 at 2:30 p.m. at Scotiabank 3
Thur. May 2 at 10:00 a.m. at TBLB 3
Willie O’Ree was the first Black hockey player in the NHL and he broke the colour barrier in 1958. He is also the subject of the feature documentary Willie from director Laurence Mathieu-Leger. A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Willie O’Ree is one of those people we should know, cherish and honour and that’s what this 89-minute film does and does so well. The first screening was a World Premiere in the Special Presentations section of Hot Docs. There are two opportunities left to see this film during the festival.
Tues. Apr. 30 at 4:40 p.m. at TBLB 1
Fri. May 3 at 10:15 a.m. at TBLB 1
We mentioned Propaganda earlier, but you may come away from the next film on Tuesday’s schedule, Gaza, thinking it is nothing but that and specifically anti-Israeli propaganda. Shot entirely from the perspective of a few citizens of this small strip of territory, these are people who wish for a normal life, a productive life, a safe life, yet are seemingly trapped between the ambitions of Hamas, which has run the territory since 2007, and the Israeli military who must retaliate to protect its people. There are some two million people who live in an area 41 kilometres long and somewhere between 6 and 12 kilometres wide. It is one of the most densely populated places on earth, yet it is cut off from the rest of world, its people unable to travel, unable to escape. Gaza, also part of the Special Presentations program, is directed by Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell.
Tues. Apr. 30 at 6:00 p.m. at the TBLB 2
Wed. May 1 at 1:45 p.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre
Fri. May 3 at 3:45 p.m. at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.
At 6:30 it’s another Special Presentations event, the second of only two screenings of the film Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind. The 90-minute documentary follows the famed Canadian songwriter and singer from his beginnings in rural Ontario to Greenwich Village to stardom and stadium performances.
Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind screens:
Tue. Apr. 30 at 6:30 p.m. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.
John Cleese was the perfect choice to provide commentary for John Walker’s new film, Assholes: A Theory. The 81-minute film is based on the New York Times bestselling book of the same title by author, Aaron James. Suji Gelerman, a psychotherapist, and Amiée Morrison, a professor in the University of Waterloo’s Literature and Digital Humanities department both provide comments on the psychology and behaviour of assholes. Other key contributors to this documentary include Sherry Lee Benson-Podolchuk, a former RCMP officer who wrote Women Not Wanted, an exposé of RCMP workplace bullying and Robert Hockett, a law professor at Cornell University who consulted for both Occupy Wall Street and the Federal Reserve in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008. John Walker is a multi-award-winning documentarian and all of his work fits easily within the definition of “must see” films. The first of three screenings is a North American Premiere.
Assholes: A Theory screens:
Tues. Apr. 30 at 7:00 p.m. at the TBLB 1
Wed. May 1 at 3:45 p.m. at TBLB 1
Sat. May 4 T 12:45 p.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre.
The last Canadian doc on the schedule is Pipe Dreams, and it’s the 2nd of three screenings. We wrote about it earlier and this page has far more detail and a trailer embedded in it. Pipe Dreams is from Montreal’s Stacey Tenenbaum and it has all the hallmarks of her work. She has an eye for something just a little bit quirky and then executes the project with the highest of quality.
Pipe Dreams screens:
Tue, Apr. 30 at 9:00 p.m. at TBLB 3
Fri. May 3 at 10:00 a.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre
There are 10 Canadian productions in the DOCX program, 8 of them fall within the Virtual Reality and Interactive part of DOCX. Three of the VR shorts are based on the award-winning feature documentary Anthropocene. The Virtual Reality and Interactive part of DOCX is free at the Autodesk Technology Centre at 661 University Avenue. There are a couple of films and a live performance as part of this program as well.
If we missed a film we apologize. Find more information and tickets online at Hot Docs