CDN Spectrum at Hot Docs – Take 3
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(April 21, 2022 – Toronto, ON) I thought we would pick up today where we left off yesterday, checking the shorts screening within the Canadian Spectrum program. As I mentioned yesterday, short documentaries are a great way to introduce yourself to this particular art form. Yesterday’s shorts program, Artistic Journeys, was made up of only 4 films totalling a little more than 90 minutes. The second shorts program is titled Stronger Together and is made up of 6 films with a total running time of just under 85 minutes. The shortest, Not My Day, is only 3 minutes long.
The Stronger Together program is defined by Hot Docs as films that forge ahead “…into the unknown…” They go on to state, “Resistance and resilience are signs of strength evident in these stories, as is the bravery of asking for help when you can’t conquer it all on your own.” The titles in this group are The Benevolents from director Sarah Baril Gaudet; Fatima in Kabul by Brishkay Ahmed; Not My Day from director Emily Nixon, Out There by Sebastian Hills-Esbrand; Patty vs. Patty from Chris Strikes and Perfecting the Art of Longing from director Kitra Cahana.
Stronger Together shorts screens just once:
Sunday, May 1, 10:45am at the Isabel Bader Theatre
The third set of 3 features we’re highlighting today includes slightly offbeat, highly intriguing, highly personal stories. First up is the World Premiere of Mike Hoolboom’s Freedom From Everything. This is a very personal essay about both the COVID and AIDS pandemics. By personal, here’s a quote lifted from an interview the director gave to Alena Koroleva, “My mother died at the beginning of the pandemic, suddenly and unexpectedly. My sister found her lying unresponsive, and we rushed to the hospital where she spent her last hours in a coma, undoing her knots, her ties to the world.”
On his website, Hoolbloom describes his film with these words: “Body memorials, survivor stories, remembrances. Both plagues are reframed by neoliberalism and its central mythology of personal freedom, brilliantly laid out in Hito Steyerl’s essay gem “Freedom from Everything” which is adapted and shapeshifted here. Pronouncing on the new precarity of the freelancer, Hito wryly observes that they have “freedom from everything,” from a good job, health care, affordable housing…”
Freedom From Everything screens:
Friday, April 29, 8:15pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Tuesday, May 3, 2:15pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Jackie Torrens is a writer, journalist, playwright, radio documentary maker and actor in TV, film, theatre and radio. In 2017 she made the short, Bernie Langille Wants to Know Who Killed Bernie Langille. The title has been changed to Bernie Langille Wants to Know What Happened to Bernie Langille and now runs 78 minutes and will have its World Premiere at Hot Docs. It’s a story of a grandson trying to find out what happened to his grandfather & namesake, a military corporal who died more than 50 years ago under mysterious circumstances. Through the use of miniature sets, Bernie use fragments of the bizarre tale almost as jigsaw pieces, to hopefully solve a family mystery and release that family which seems to be emotionally frozen in 1968, the year Bernie Langille died.
Bernie Langille Wants to Know What Happened to Bernie Langille screens:
Saturday, April 30, 8:30pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Thursday, May 5, 1:00pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
The 9th of 12 features in the Canadian Spectrum we’re looking at this time is titled Shelter. Tess Girard’s films often mix documentary and experimental and her work has been recognized with nominations and awards. This time out she finds herself in the midst of a major life transition and visits a local doomsday shelter, which forces her to reckon with impermanence and the extreme measures we take to avoid the inevitable. As Alexander Rogalski writes for Hot Docs, Girard has “Conversations with a youthful gravedigger who provides locals with their final resting place,” and that contrasts with…”an eccentric elderly couple who plan to save humanity with a bunker of buried school buses known as Ark Two.” I never said documentaries can’t be quirky.
Tuesday, May 3, 5:45pm at the Varsity Cinemas
Friday, May 6 at 12:30pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Tomorrow the last of 12 features screening in the 2022 Canadian Spectrum.
There is more information online about these films and others and about streaming these films from anywhere in Canada.
Also see: CDN Spectrum – Take 2
Also see: CDN Spectrum – Take 1
Also see: Canadian films screening in the Hot Docs Special Presentations.
Ralph Lucas is the founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca. He began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.