On the eve of the opening of Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, I give you the first of two personally curated list of films to see at the festival.
In no particular order, this list includes documentaries from the many, varied programs part of Hot Docs each year.
The Man Who Saw Too Much
This is a film about fragility; about a man obsessed with photographing the accident who discovered that the fate of others was his way of connecting to life. Through the footsteps of Enrique Metinides and the work of the contemporary tabloid photographers, we discover Mexico City through a narrative of crime scenes and accidents, while we are confronted by our own fascination with death, morbidity, rubbernecking through Metinides’ gaze.
Gary Numan: Android In La La Land
After years of living in the English countryside, godfather of electro-pop and 80s rock star Gary Numan uproots the family and moves to Hollywood. With honest, unguarded access, we gain a new perspective on the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Numan is a nerdy family man with Asperger’s who loves his wife and his life. This one-two punch of humour and candor reveals the flesh-and-blood man behind the cold android myth, the rock star as real person
Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You
Legendary creator, writer and producer Norman Lear revolutionized 1970s prime time television with unforgettable shows like All in the Family, Maude, Good Times and The Jeffersons. His programming challenged the national consciousness on race, class and feminism. Through appearances from some of film and TV’s most notable figures—including Amy Poehler, George Clooney, Rob Reiner, Jon Stewart and, at 93 years old, Mr. Lear himself—we see a truly engaging and definitive portrait of his life, work and extraordinary achievements
No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson
Commissioned by ESPN’s highly regarded 30 for 30 series, James returns to his hometown of Hampton, Virginia, to revisit the trial of another Hampton native, NBA star Allen Iverson. In 1997, when Iverson was a rising high school basketball star, he became the focal point of a criminal trial that consumed their racially divided town.
DocX Performance: Brent Green and Sam Green: Live Cinema
Academy award–nominated filmmaker Sam Green and acclaimed live cinema artist Brent Green take to the stage for a one-night-only “live documentary,” a genre of cinema/theatre where the Greens deconstruct the elements of documentary and reproduce them live on stage. Using film projection, narration and a live music score, the show weaves together a group of documentary portraits collected and crafted by the artists.
I Am the Blues
As the camera glides over bayous, the reflective words of Leo Bud Welch take us deep into Mississippi, to the home of the blues and its living legends. One of those legends is Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, who has been running the Blue Front Cafe for 43 years. The walls of his institutional juke joint are plastered with posters featuring the people and shows that have immeasurably influenced music and popular culture worldwide.
How to Build a Time Machine
Fixated on the possibility of conquering time, two men find inspiration by bringing facets of H.G. Wells’ 1895 novel The Time Machine to life. Animator Rob Niosi has devoted years to obsessively replicating the time machine prop from the 1960 feature film adaptation. Meanwhile, theoretical physicist Ron Mallett has dedicated his lifetime of research to better understanding black holes and their time portal potential. Both are driven by personal tragedies that time won’t heal.
The Legacy of Frida Kahlo
Award-winning photographer Miyako Ishiuchi travels to Mexico to inventory iconic artist Frida Kahlo’s wardrobe and personal belongings when they’re suddenly discovered 58 years after her death. This is a documentary where fashion and “women’s work” are given the respect and importance they deserve, the film captures the artistic process as it unfolds between two artists and two worlds: Japan and Mexico, the living and the dead.
Turning Tables is a global social enterprise that works to empower socially, politically and economically marginalized youth in the world’s hot spots by providing them with the means to express their grievances, hopes and dreams in film and music. For Hot Docs, the international CEO of Turning Tables and two film directors will present a unique peek into how documentary and music video shooting can be a vehicle for change in Syria, Myanmar and Northeast Africa.
Docs at Dusk: Hip-Hop Evolution
Hip-hop dominates popular music culture today. Its influences are far-reaching and its performers international superstars. Canadian rapper Shad acts as our informed and enthusiastic guide, travelling to the Bronx and Harlem to talk with hip-hop’s originators and biggest stars—Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash, among many others—tracing the music’s development and influences from the underground to the global phenomenon it is today.
This is but a glimpse at the vast list of documentaries premiering at Hot Docs this year. Nonethless, it should be a good place to start. Click on the film’s title for more information on the film, scheduling times and tickets. Get your schedule ready and start planning!