Monday at Hot Docs
(April 28, 2019 – Toronto, ON) Tomorrow is Day 5 at the 26th annual Hot Docs Film Festival. There are 45 documentaries on the schedule, more if you count the shorts screening with some of the features. As always our focus is on the Canadian films and there are 12, although it is always possible that we missed one not screening in the Canadian Spectrum.
Monday’s schedule begins at 10 a.m. but the first Canadian film is Toxic Beauty. This is an important film because, quite simply, we just don’t know enough about the things we put into and onto our bodies and we can no longer trust the big brands when they tell us their products are safe. While we are all aware of the larger pollution that surrounds us we just don’t know enough about our own very personal environments. Toxic Beauty only gets two screenings at Hot Docs and this first is a World Premiere. Directed by Phyllis Ellis, the film is co-produced by Peter Raymont and Barri Cohen. Why do you need to see this film? As Aisha Jamal writes for Hot Docs: Toxic Beauty “…ultimately concludes that without action, the greatest chemical disaster may be the one happening inside our bodies.”
Toxic Beauty screens:
Mon. Apr. 29 at 12:45 p.m. at the Tiff Bell Lightbox (TBLB)
Thur. May 2 at 5:45 p.m. at Scotiabank 3
At 1:15 it’s the 2nd screening of Conviction. Co-directed by Ariella Pahlke, Nance Ackerman and Teresa MacInnes, this 78-minute film sets out to understand why women have become the fastest-growing segment of the prison population in Canada. The twist in the film is that some women are given cameras and instead of responding to questions, tell their own stories, providing an unusually authentic point of view.
Mon. Apr. 29 at 1:15 p.m. at TBLB 3
Thur. May 2 at 12:30 p.m. at the Hart House Theatre
Midnight Traveler is a USA-Qatar-UK-Canada co-production that is part of Hot Docs’ World Showcase program. Running 87 minutes, it’s a tense true story about an Afghan director who turns the camera on his family after the Taliban puts a bounty on his head. The film captures their flight to freedom and safety and how in the face of possible death they remain bound by love.
Midnight Traveler screens:
Mon. Apr. 29 at 2:30 p.m. at at the Scotiabank 3
Sun. May 5 at 12:30 p.m. at the Aga Khan Museum
Despite the evidence all around us that weather has changed and we are to blame, the Neanderthals in power (with apologies to Neanderthals) seem hell bent on turning back the clock hoping no one notices that wildfires have grown in size and number, rising sea levels have already damaged island nations, winters seem ever more impossible and heat waves claim more lives every year. The Hottest August is a Canada-U.S. coproduction from director Brett Story. Story shot this film in and around New York on every day of August 2017. Trump had been President for less than a year, white nationalists seem emboldened, if it isn’t wildfires scorching the west coast, it’s hurricanes threatening the east coast. For 31 days she captured a slice of the United States in transition, a moving picture of a singular time that just might stop you in your tracks when you revisit this moment in history.
The Hottest August screens:
Mon. Apr. 29 at 3:15 p.m. at TBLB 1
Thur. May 2 at 6:00 p.m. the Scotiabank 13
Fri. May 3 at 2:00 p.m. at TBLB 2
Advocate is an Israel-Canada-Switzerland co-production and it screens in Hot Docs’ Special Presentations programs. It’s about human rights lawyer Lea Tsemel who has been defending Palestinians against all sorts of criminal charges for almost 50 years. The directors, Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche, weave this profile out of new and archival footage so that we get to know the 74-year-old lawyer who has never betrayed her principles.
Mon, Apr. 29 at 3:30 p.m. at TBLB 2
Sun. May 5 at 6:15 p.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre
When We Walk is a highly personal film and that may be an under statement. In this 79-minute film from Jason DaSilva, he 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. The first screening is a World Premiere.
When We Walk screens:
Mon. Apr. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Isabel Bader Theatre
Tues. Apr. 30 at 12:45 p.m. at Isabel Bader Theatre
Fri. May 3 at 12:45 at Isabel Bader Theatre
Quick…who was the first Black hockey player in the NHL? His name is Willie O’Ree 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 is one of those people we should know, cherish, honour, and that’s what this 89-minute film does and does so well. The first screening is a World Premiere in the Special Presentations section of Hot Docs.
Mon. Apr. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Tues. Apr. 30 at 4:40 p.m. at TBLB 1
Fri. May 3 at 10:15 a.m. at TBLB 1
This is the 2nd and last screening of El Toro, which has nothing to do with bullfights or lawnmowers. It’s a trip down memory lane for eight siblings who spent part of the 1960s growing up at the family-run truck stop just outside of Winnipeg. While the actual diner is no longer around, their stories bring fond memories back to life. It’s a long-short, if you will, running only 43 minutes. To round out the program there are a couple of Canadian shorts that will screen along with El Toro.
El Toro screens:
Mon. Apr. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Scotiabank 8
There are only 2 screenings of There Are No Fakes from director Jamie Kastner. This is another film that looks inside the usually obscure world of art and art sales. In 2017 director Barry Avrich released Blurred Lines: Inside The Art World, which also screened at Hot Docs. This time the story revolves around a specific work by Norval Morrisseau. Also known as Copper Thunderbird, he is arguably the most influential Indigenous artist in Canada and usually referred to as the founder of the “Woodlands style.” The central story revolves around one of his paintings, Spirit Energy of Mother Earth. Owned by musician Kevin Hearn the authenticity of his painting is called into question and he subsequently decides to sue the art dealer. This launches an investigation into the painting’s provenance and the eventual unravelling of an art fraud ring with different factions, all claiming to be the true protectors of the Anishinaabe painter’s legacy. It’s a 114-minute mystery story where culture and commerce collide all deftly handled by the film’s director.
There Are No Fakes screens:
Mon. Apr. 29 at 6:00 p.m. at TBLB 1
Wed. May 1 at 8:15 p.m. at Scotiabank 1
At 6:15 Our Dance of Revolution has its World Premiere. Writing for Hot Docs, Nataleah Hunter-Young said: “This untold history of Toronto’s Black queer community spans four decades of passionate activist rebellion. Refusing to be silenced and raging with love, the featured trailblazers demanded a city where they could all live their truths free from the threat of violence.” Produced and directed by lawyer-turned-filmmaker Phillip Pike, on the film’s own website it states, in part, “Our Dance of Revolution is a human-scale reckoning of how audacious individuals find themselves by finding others, and how they muster the courage, tenacity, and creativity to prevail against the forces of marginalization.”
Our Dance of Revolution screens:
Mon. Apr. 29 at 6:15 p.m. at TBLB 2
Wed. May 1 at 2:45 p.m. at Scotiabank 3
Fri. May 3 at 12:00 p.m. at Scotiabank 8
Corporate Coup d’État is directed by Fred Peabody and produced by Peter Raymont. Running 90-minutes, journalist Chris Hedges and Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul (pictured above) dissect America at a troubling crossroads, exposing Trump’s MAGA doctrine as a symptom of a broken democracy where power now lies with corporations, not citizens. As the blub on the Hot Docs website says, “If you think Amazon and Apple are controlling your life, you may sadly be right.” Its first screening is a Canadian Premiere.
Corporate Coup d’État screens:
Mon. Apr. 29 at 9:30 p.m. at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
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
The final Canadian doc on today’s schedule is one of the mysteries that anyone could get caught up in. In the case of Shella Record: A Reggae Mystery, the central character is an artist and an otherwise normal, average, everyday sort of guy named Chris Flanagan, who also happens to be a record fanatic. What makes him different is a decades-long obsession to find the woman behind the voice he hears on a 45-rpm record he picks up for a dime. The label says the singer is someone named Shella Record, but no one seems to know the first thing about her. Flanagan’s obsession will take him to a hairdressing studio in Toronto, a fortune teller in L.A., and to one of the legendary recording studios of Jamaica. Flanagan, also happens to be the producer and director of this 87-minute documentary. The first screening is a World Premiere.
Shella Record: A Reggae Mystery screens:
Mon. Apr. 29 at 9:15 p.m. at TBLB 2
Wed. May 1 at 12:45 p.m. at Scotiabank 4
Fri. May 3 at 3:15 p.m. at Scotiabank 3
Find more information and tickets online at Hot Docs.