A Sneak Peek at Toronto’s Hot Doc’s Film Festival: The Preliminaries

2006_09_28_hotdocs.jpgIt’s almost that time of year again. Toronto’s Hot Docs film festival is upon us and the preliminary announcements have been made. For those of you who haven’t heard of the festival, i’ll let their own press release do the nicely worded talking:

Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, will present its 14th annual edition from April 19 – 29, 2007. An outstanding selection of 100+ documentaries from Canada and around the world will be presented to Toronto audiences and international delegates. Hot Docs will also mount a full roster of professional development and market events for documentary practitioners, including the renowned Toronto Documentary Forum happening April 25 and 26.

I’ve just recieved an email with a short list of announcements, including a sneak peek at some of this years featured films. Last year I had the opportunity to catch Darkon and a special speaking engagement by legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog. This year I hope to catch a few more films. (as long as I can work around my job schedule that is!) So without further ado, here’s the list so far:

FOREVER

D: Heddy Honigmann | 95 min | France
Critically-acclaimed Honigmann turns her thoughtful lens on the captivating characters seeking inspiration and solace from the famous artists, writers, and composers laid to rest in Paris’ Père-Lachaise Cemetery. A tribute to the power and vitality of art.

LET’S ALL HATE TORONTO

D: Albert Nerenberg, Rob Spence | 75 min | Canada
The national hobby of hating Toronto is explored in this lively cross-country survey of the one thing that unites and defines Canadians – our perpetual disdain for our largest city.

MANUFACTURING DISSENT

D: Debbie Melnyk, Rick Caine | 96 min | Canada, Australia
Michael Moore, frequently held to be the flag-bearer for the documentary renaissance, gets an inquisitive camera turned upon him for a change, as the subject of this revelatory critical biography.

THE MONASTERY – MR. VIG AND THE NUN
Winner of IDFA’s Joris Ivens Award!

D: Pernille Rose Gronkjaer | 84 min | Denmark
Sure to be one of the Festival’s most beloved films. In this funny, moving story a stubborn 82-year-old bachelor meets his match when a young Russian nun visits his crumbling monastery.

WAR/DANCE
Winner of Sundance’ Directing Award (Documentary)!

D: Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine | 105 min | USA
Victims of war compete for victory in this hope-filled documentary about three orphans from a displacement camp in Northern Uganda who succeed to the finals of a national dance and music contest.

AMINA

D: Khadija Al-Salami | 75 min | Yemen
Amina, a beguiling young mother and former child-bride, is sentenced to death for her husband’s murder despite her claims of innocence. With privileged access to a Yemeni prison, Al-Salami records Amina’s story, which, like the film, takes many unexpected turns.

CALL OF THE HUMMINGBIRD

D: Alice Klein | 62 min | Canada
How does Utopia work if no one takes out the garbage? In rural Brazil, a disparate group of earth-lovers struggle to build consensus on how to save the world before the Mayan calendar ends in 2012.

EVERYTHING’S COOL

D: Daniel B. Gold, Judith Helfand | 95 min | USA
Award-winning filmmakers expertly expose the political machinations that fueled the debate over global warming’s very urgent and real threat; a “toxic comedy” about the most dangerous chasm ever to emerge between scientific understanding and political action.

GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB

D: Rory Kennedy | 78 min | USA
A potent, lucid analysis of the abuses that occurred at the notorious Iraqi prison, and what they say about the American military, and, indeed, America itself.

GIRLS ROCK!

D: Arne Johnson, Shane King | 87 min | USA
At Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for girls, a death metal-loving Korean teen and an 8-year-old who writes experimental rock songs about her dog are taught that it’s okay to sweat, scream, and to wail on their instruments with utter abandon.

HELVETICA

D: Gary Hustwit | 80 min | UK
An illuminating and engaging look at the global visual culture of typography and graphic design, and the way it affects our lives, through the proliferation of one typeface

NO END IN SIGHT

D: Charles Ferguson | 106 min | USA
In this chronicle of the reasons behind Iraq’s descent into guerilla war, criminality and anarchy, Charles Ferguson brings us a jaw-dropping, insider’s tale of wholesale incompetence, recklessness and venality.

THE PRIZE OF THE POLE

D: Staffan Julén | 80 min | Sweden, Denmark
The fascinating, heart-wrenching story of Minik, one of six Inuit brought to New York by famed explorer Robert E. Peary in 1897, is reconstructed in this riveting study of identity and belonging.

SCOTT WALKER – 30 CENTURY MAN

D: Stephen Kijak | 95 min | UK, USA
The extraordinary music and extensive influence of enigmatic singer-composer Scott Walker, a one-time pop star in the UK, is explored, featuring interviews with David Bowie, Thom Yorke, Brian Eno, Ute Lemper and more.

SUPER AMIGOS

D: Arturo Perez Torres | 82 min | Canada, Mexico
When injustice strikes in Mexico City, Super Barrio, Super Gay and their Lucha Libre friends answer the call. Five real-life masked superheroes take their fight out of the wrestling ring and into the streets.

YOGA INC.

D: John Philp | 73 min | USA
Today, the spiritual practice of yoga is a competitive, commercialized mega-industry. Modern-day yogis fight to copyright their moves and to have yoga recognized as an Olympic sport. Can yoga survive with its good karma intact?

CAMPAIGN

D: Kazuhiro Soda | 120 min | Japan, USA
In this verité study of Japanese-style democracy, a candidate with no political experience, but with the backing of the prime minister, runs in a heated election in Kawasaki, Japan.

ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS
Winner of Sundance’s World Cinema Jury Prize (Documentary)

D: Eva Mulvad, Anja Al-Erhayem | 58 min | Denmark
For Afghan parliamentary candidate Malalai Joya, skirting assassination attempts and saving young girls from arranged marriages is all in a day’s work. An arresting portrait of an admirably audacious woman in pursuit of political and social justice.

ORANGE REVOLUTION

D: Steve York | 106 min | USA
Thousands of voters are intimidated, ballot boxes acid bombed, and election officials are “influenced.” And that’s just Day One. Shocking footage and interviews reveal how Ukraine’s 2004 presidential election was narrowly stolen and, even more remarkably, restored.

PUNK THE VOTE!

D: Eric Roach Denis | 72 min | Canada
Two hardcore punks from Montreal shake up the status quo by running for election. Starbuck stays true to his anarchist, sadomasochist and exhibitionist roots. His friend and rival, Roach, pushes reform while trying to resist celebrity’s siren call.

STATE LEGISLATURE

D: Frederick Wiseman | 217 min | USA
The nuts and bolts of the democratic process and its daily grind are followed at the Idaho Legislature, with master filmmaker Frederick Wiseman applying his customary patience and precision.

BALKAN CHAMPION

D: Réka Kincses | 87min | Germany, Hungary
Through the personal and political history of a ‘Transylvanian Don Quixote’, who happens to be the filmmaker’s father, the deep contradictions of Romania, the newest member country of the European Union, become apparent.

HOW IT’S DONE

D: Marcel Lozinski | 87 min | Poland
A cocky Polish media advisor, claiming that he can make anybody into a politician, recruits several citizens with the idea of creating a candidate from scratch. A revelatory look at demagogy in practice.

I GUESS WE’LL MEET AT EUROCAMP

D: Erika Hníková | 57 min | Czech Republic
While the village’s mayor trumpets Eurocamp, a contentious new facility on its outskirts, the small Czech community is, comically, torn asunder by the rivalries between three local associations: the hunters, the athletes and the firefighters.

OTHER WORLDS

D: Marko Skop | 78 min | Czech Republic, Slovakia
With buoyancy and love for its charismatic characters, Skop portrays the unique diversity of Easterners, Russians, Gypsies, Jews and Saris living within a “little Babylon” on the foothills of the Eastern Carpathians, in Slovakia

VILLAGE OF SOCKS

D: Ileana Stanculescu, Klaudia Begic | 78 min | Romania, Germany
Gathering each morning for ‘sock hour’, Transylvanian villagers wrangle over the style of socks they will knit for export across Europe. The alluring charm of a community practicing a centuries-old tradition while on the edge of the EU behemoth is captured in this award-winning doc.

MISS UNIVERSE 1929 – LISL GOLDARBEITER. A QUEEN IN WIEN

D: Péter Forgács | 70 min | Hungary, Austria, The Netherlands
Lisl Goldarbeiter was the most beautiful woman in the world. Her cousin Marci, an avid filmmaker and determined suitor, kept his camera – and his heart – trained on her for decades. A transcendent film about eternal love and great beauty unfolds against the backdrop of the roaring twenties and beyond.

MOSZNY

D: Robert Lakatos | 40 min | Hungary
In Transylvania, a farmer’s quiet revolution against an engulfing housing development is portrayed with humour and poignancy.

NEVER BEEN BETTER

D: Ivana Milosevic | 65 min | Czech Republic
Ten years after leaving Bosnia-Herzegovina in the wake of genocide, the filmmaker returns to capture the current situation. An intimate road film that probes the redefining of home among those struggling to reclaim their history.

THE WORM

D: Andis Miziss | 71 min | Latvia
A spare portrait of a resilient Latvian couple caught in the undertow of the collapse of socialism. Inese, 41, and Karlis, 63, living together on the margins of Riga, prepare to have their first child.

ACTS OF MEN

D: Kiko Goifman | 75 min | Brazil
An edgy and taut investigation of Rio’s criminal underground that delves deep into a tangled web of blackmail, kidnapping, drug dealing and murder. While unraveling a haunting massacre, the filmmakers face danger from death squads and corrupt police.

THE END AND THE BEGINNING

D: Eduardo Coutinho | 110 min | Brazil
The colorful, world-weary, rural denizens of Brazil share unforgettable stories about their lives, loves and basic survival. Gritty, amusing and poignant, this is a cinematic trip to regions of Brazil rarely seen on screen.

THE FOREIGN EYE

D: Lúcia Murat | 72 min | Brazil
Is the Hollywood image of Brazil as beaches, bikinis and bossa nova more fiction than fact? In juicy interviews, leading stars, including Michael Caine, Hope Davis and Jon Voigt, are grilled over the misleading myth they’ve helped create.

SANTIAGO

D: João Salles | 80 min | Brazil
Santiago, an eccentric and erudite Brazilian butler, has spent his life writing a 60,000-page history of the world’s greatest aristocracies – some of them his clients. In an elegant and intimate portrait, filmmaker Salles projects his own childhood relationship with Santiago as a way to explore identity, memory, and history.

Related Link: Hot Docs 2007

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