Sunday at Hot Docs
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(April 30, 2023 – Toronto, ON) There are four documentaries in the Canadian Spectrum screening today at Hot Docs. In alphabetical order they are Cynara, I’m Just Here for the Riot, Upstream and Veranada. In screening order, Veranada screens this morning.
As previously covered on Northernstars, Veranada is a Canada-Argentina film that centres on Don Luis Arturo Avila, a gaucho from Malargüe, Mendoza, Argentina. The word means summer pasture. Set in a remote community of herders in the Andes mountains, Don Arturo rides his horse in search of greener grasslands to feed his goats and sheep. Herders here depend on the one necessary resource to survive: water nourishes the plants in the meadows which feed the herds. This story is about Don Arturo’s tenacious yet hopeful will to survive in a region affected by climate change, severe drought. This is the last screening for this film.
April 30 – 11:45AN – Scotiabank Theatre.
Cynara is a title that has been used many times before. This film, written, directed and produced by Toronto-based Sherien Barsoum, is a crime drama, but the crime is real and the drama, also real, is difficult to believe. In short, this 88-minute film tells the story of a break-in, which is also the story of a disabled daughter named Cynara. Following the break-in, her mother calls 911 needing help for her child. Hours later, Cynara is dead, and her mother is the prime suspect. This is also a story of Canada’s justice system on trial. Barsoum is a founding member of the Racial Equity Media Collective, which uses research to advocate on behalf of racialized creators in Canada. She is also the former Director of Programming for the Reelworld Film Festival and served as a board member of the Documentary Organization of Canada.
April 30 – 1:45PM – Isabel Bader Theatre
May 4 – 5:00PM – Scotiabank Theatre
Upstream is a poetic look at where life begins and our need to revisit our beginnings. What came to mind immediately was the Thomas Wolfe quote “You Can’t Go Home Again.” It’s a thought or topic that’s been dealt with in every medium since forever. The “blurb” for this film on the director’s website states “”I” am the main character of the film, and “I” am a wildlife photographer who takes my camera and subjective point of view on a journey from Canada back to my hometown in China. At the same time, a school of salmon makes the long journey from the Pacific Ocean, thousands of kilometers away, back to the freshwater river where they were born.” Directed by Xin Liu, this first of two screenings is a World Premiere.
pril 30 – 5:30PM – TIFF Bell Lightbox
May 5 – 12:00PM – TIFF Bell Lightbox
I’m Just Here for the Riot is a bit of history we all (I hope) wish never happened. In 2011 the Vancouver Canucks did the unforgivable thing of losing a hockey game. Not just any hockey game but the Stanley Cup, which was still just another hockey game. Not the first hockey game to be followed by a riot—the 1955 riot outside the Montreal Forum comes to mind—what makes this one different is the use of technology. It was the first techno-mob riot that has become all too familiar over the past 12 years. The term Flash Mob is now in most if not all dictionaries. Like Upstream, this is the World Premiere of I’m Just Here for the Riot.
I’m Just Here for the Riot screens:
pril 30 – 6:30PM – TIFF Bell Lightox
May 4 – 2:00PM – Scotiabank Theatre
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.