Tuesday, March 15, 2011

34 titles announced for Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto

Although the official announcement for all the titles of the coming Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival will not take place until next week, they have released the titles of 26 Special Presentations and 8 Made in Italy selections.

The Special Presentations includes award-winning films such as Position Among the Stars, which won Best Feature-Length Documentary at IDFA and a World Cinema Special Jury Prize at Sundance. Other prize-winners from Sundance include Buck, Senna, Project Nim and Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey. The Special Presentations are the higher-profile films that often feature celebrity involvement, with names such as Conan O-Brien, Ron Sexsmith, Carol Channing, Ayrton Senna or Chaz Bono.

World and International Premieres include The Hollywood Complex, Dolphin Boy, Becoming Chaz, The Bully Project, Fightville, Limelight and In Heaven, Underground.

The Made In Italy titles are The Castle, Cosmic Energy Inc., Draquila - Italy Trembles, El Sicario, Room 164, Heart-Quake, Housing, I Am Jesus, and The Valley of the Moon.

The 2011 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival takes place from April 28 - May 8 in Toronto.


For Immediate Release

Toronto, March 15, 2011 – Hot Docs is pleased to announce the 26 documentary features that will be a part of this year's Special Presentations program, a high-profile collection of world and international premieres, award-winners from the recent international festival circuit, and works by master filmmakers, and featuring some star subjects. These films will screen as part of the 2011 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, running April 28 to May 8 in Toronto.

"Our Special Presentations program is the closest documentary gets to glitz and glamour," says Hot Docs director of programming Sean Farnel, "but behind that glitz and glamour is a program grounded in reality, offering compelling glimpses into the epic life of a chimpanzee and a club king, the champions of ultimate fighting and gay porn, and the unique complexities of living day-to-day as a reincarnated prophet, a beloved puppeteer, or the son of Cher."

Star subjects featured as part of the Special Presentations program include Carol Channing (Carol Channing: Larger Than Life), Conan O'Brien (Conan O'Brien Can't Stop), A Tribe Called Quest (Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest), Bobby Fischer (Bobby Fischer Against The World), Miriam Makeba (Mama Africa), Ron Sexsmith (Love Shines), and Elmo (BEING ELMO: A Puppeteer's Journey).

Award-winners from film festivals around the globe include Position Among the Stars (Best Feature-length Documentary, IDFA; World Cinema Special Jury Prize, Sundance), Vodka Factory (Golden Dove, DOK Leipzig), Buck (Audience Award: Documentary, Sundance), and
Senna (World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary, Sundance).

Works by documentary masters and celebrated filmmakers include Project Nim (Academy Award-winner James Marsh, MAN ON WIRE), MAGIC TRIP (directed by Alison Ellwood and Academy Award-winner Alex Gibney, TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE), My Reincarnation (Jennifer Fox) and THE National Parks Project (Scott Smith, Zacharias Kunuk, Peter Lynch, Sturla Gunnarsson, Kevin McMahon, Louise Archambault, Hubert Davis, Catherine Martin, Daniel Cockburn, John Walker, Jamie Travis, Stephane Lafleur and Keith Behrman).

The program will also include the world premieres of THE Hollywood Complex (USA) and Dolphin Boy (Israel), and the international premieres of Becoming Chaz (USA), THE Bully Project (USA), FIGHTVILLE (USA), LIMELIGHT (USA) and In Heaven, Underground. The Jewish Cemetery in Berlin-WeiSSensee (Germany). The Advocate For Fagdom (Germany) and My Barefoot Friend (South Korea) will receive their North American premiere, and Blood in the Mobile (Denmark) and THE Good Life (Denmark) their Canadian premiere.

The full selection of films to screen at Hot Docs 2011 will be announced on March 22, including the 2011 opening night film.  

Special Presentation titles appears below, ordered alphabetically:

The Advocate For Fagdom
D: Angélique Bosio | Germany | 92 min | North American Premiere

Romantic-Queercore-punk-zombie pornographer, gleeful crusher of cliché, righteousness and repressive politics: Viva Bruce LaBruce! Scintillating film clips and fabulous interviews with John Waters, Harmony Korine, and Gus Van Sant reveal Toronto's gift to the world.

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest
D: Michael Rapaport | USA | 98 min | International Premiere

Actor Michael Rapaport's directorial debut hits the road with Q-Tip, Phife, Ali and Jarobi, charting the band's triumphant and turbulent 20-year career as they reunite for a series of sold-out gigs. An authentic portrait of true hip-hop pioneers.

BEING ELMO: A Puppeteer's Journey
D: Constance Marks | USA | 76 min | International Premiere

Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, this Sundance Special Jury Prize winner sneaks us behind the scenes at Sesame Street to reveal the inspirational story of Kevin Clash, shy puppeteer and creator of the world's favourite Muppet.

Becoming Chaz
D: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato | USA | 85 min | International Premiere

A revealing look at Chaz (formerly Chastity) Bono's journey through gender reassignment. A reluctant public figure whose parents' fame thrusts him into the spotlight, the utterly charming and candid Chaz bravely stands up to demystify the transgender experience.

Blood in the Mobile
D: Frank Piasecki Poulsen | Denmark | 82 min | Canadian Premiere

Are the minerals in your mobile phone contributing to the violence in eastern Congo? Filmmaker Frank Poulsen documents one of the world’s most notorious mines and exposes its links to the bloodshed that plagues the region.

Bobby Fischer Against The World
D: Elizabeth Garbus | USA | 93 min | Canadian Premiere

Bobby Fischer was the rock star of the chess world, but underneath his brilliance lurked a tormented soul. A gripping, impressively researched look at how this American Cold War hero became a vilified, paranoid recluse.

D: Cindy Meehl | USA | 88 min | Canadian Premiere

A real-life horse whisperer overcomes his dark childhood and emerges as kind of an equine-rooted philosopher, proving his own maxim: horses make better people. Unforgettable, and deservedly the winner of an Audience Award at Sundance.

THE Bully Project
D: Lee Hirsch | USA | 94 min | International Premiere

Savage teasing, repeated threats, a gun gets pulled – and all this just on the bus ride to school. Filmmaker Lee Hirsch spends a shocking year on the front lines of America's bullying epidemic.

Carol Channing: Larger Than Life
D: Dori Berinstein | USA | 87 min | International Premiere

Broadway powerhouse Carol Channing is as vivacious at 90 as when she first captivated audiences in Hello, Dolly! nearly 50 years ago. Iconic and incomparable, her expansive career – and late-life romance with her junior high sweetheart – is profiled.

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop
D: Rodman Flender | USA | 89 min | Canadian Premiere

Dumped from The Tonight Show and banned from appearing on television, radio or the Internet for six months: what's a firebrand comic to do? Hit the stand-up road looking for laughs... and revenge. Go, Coco!

Dolphin Boy
D: Dani Menkin, Yonatan Nir | Israel | 70 min | World Premiere

The unexplained wonders of dolphin-assisted therapy are captured on camera in this inspiring tale of a boy who had lost touch with reality after a brutal beating, and the dolphins that helped heal his deep emotional scars.

D: Michael Tucker, Petra Epperlein | USA | 85 min | International Premiere

Brutal. Bloody. Beautiful. FIGHTVILLE throws you into the cage with some of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's biggest names to reveal the raw power and focused determination it takes to emerge a champion.

THE Good Life
D: Eva Mulvad | Denmark | 84 min | Canadian Premiere

Born with a silver spoon, headstrong daughter Anne Mette yearns for her affluent younger years. Fortune squandered, living together on one modest pension, she and her mother now struggle to keep tempers in check and wine on the table.

THE Hollywood Complex
D: Dylan Nelson, Dan Sturman | USA | 85 min | World Premiere

Every spring, thousands of hopeful child actors flock to Hollywood for television's crushingly competitive "pilot season." Many stay with their families at the Oakwood apartment complex, a place where dreams are chased at surprising costs.

In Heaven, Underground. The Jewish Cemetery in Berlin-WeiSSensee
D: Britta Wauer | Germany | 90 min | International Premiere

This Berlinale Audience Award winner is an enchanting portrait of a 130-year-old Jewish cemetery in the heart of the German capital. A delightful array of characters celebrates life and the immortality of memories.

D: Billy Corben | USA | 101 min | Canadian Premiere

The Limelight was one of New York’s most famous nightclubs in the 1980s and 1990s, but beneath its glitzy surface lay a dangerous underworld. Billy Corbin’s doc profiles Limelight creator Peter Gatien and the business of clubbing that nearly destroyed him.

Love Shines
D: Douglas Arrowsmith | Canada | 87 min | Toronto Premiere

Love and music shine as Ron Sexsmith pairs up with legendary hit-maker Bob Rock for a new CD. Part evocative biopic, this journey into the heart of songwriting also features Elvis Costello, Feist and Daniel Lanois.

D: Alison Ellwood, Alex Gibney | USA | 90 min | Canadian Premiere

In 1964, the Merry Pranksters – including Ken Kesey and Kerouac-muse Neal Cassady – embarked on an infamous LSD-fuelled road trip across America. Oscar-winner Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood craft original footage and audio recordings into the year’s trippiest time capsule.

Mama Africa
D: Mika Kaurismäki | Germany, South Africa, Finland | 90 min | Canadian Premiere

Veteran filmmaker Mika Kaurismäki beautifully illuminates the extraordinary life of South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba. Featuring rare footage and extraordinary music, this film riveted audiences at the Berlinale.

My Barefoot Friend
D: Seong-Gyou Lee | South Korea | 90 min | North American Premiere

Ten thousand rickshaws are still pulled by hand in Calcutta. Running barefoot through the chaotic streets, 55-year-old Shallim’s dreams of escaping the desperate cycle of poverty fuel this poignant look at the pothole-filled ride of life.

My Reincarnation
D: Jennifer Fox | USA, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland | 100 min | Canadian Premiere

When your father is a high Tibetan master and you're the reincarnation of a famous spiritual teacher, it's hard to escape the family business. Italian-born Yeshi struggles against Dad, destiny and the divine in this epic drama.

THE National Parks Project
D: Louise Archambault, Keith Behrman, Daniel Cockburn, Hubert Davis, Sturla Gunnarsson, Zacharias Kunuk, Stéphane Lafleur, Peter Lynch, Catherine Martin, Kevin McMahon, Scott Smith, Jamie Travis, John Walker | Canada | 127 min | Canadian Premiere

Stunning and inspired, this ambitious, omnibus film barely fits the big screen. Fifty-two filmmakers and musicians explored our country's rugged wilderness, translating the landscape into cinematic form to mark Parks Canada's centennial.

Position Among the Stars
D: Leonard Retel Helmrich | The Netherlands | 111 min | Canadian Premiere

Masterful camerawork and incredible access elevate the daily struggles of a traditional grandmother and her urbanized family in Jakarta's slums to a deeply humanist portrait of contemporary Indonesia. The stunning finale to a trilogy twelve years in the making.

Project Nim
D: James Marsh | USA, UK | 93 min | Canadian Premiere

James Marsh follows his hit doc MAN ON WIRE with the year's most engrossing and heartbreaking biography, that of "Nim Chimpsky," a chimpanzee whose epic life story unfolds against startling human error, eccentricity and hubris.

D: Asif Kapadia | UK | 104 min

Brazilian racing superstar Ayrton Senna's dramatic Formula One career, from his fierce rivalry with nemesis Alain Prost to his eventual death behind the wheel, is the subject of this sublime nail-biter of a biography.

Vodka Factory
D: Jerzy Sladkowski | Russia | 90 min | North American Premiere

Dreams of big-city stardom cushion a single mother labouring on an assembly line from the brutal banalities of life in Russia's backwoods in this award-winning, intimately filmed story of the high price of dreams.



Toronto, March 15, 2011 – Hot Docs will once again explore the contemporary documentary work of rich filmmaking cultures with its Made In program, which will focus this year on films from Italy. Showcasing the country's finest contemporary non-fiction cinema, Made In Italy will offer a selection of films that champion the renewed strength and artistry of Italy's documentary film community.

"We were delighted with the range, quality and quantity of non-fiction we were able to consider from Italy," says director of programming Sean Farnel. "Our Made In program offers a representative selection, with feisty political work, formally rigourous visual essays, great characters, lots of heart and even some humour."

Of the eight feature and mid-length films in the Made In program, one title will receive its world premiere, two their international premiere, three their North American premiere, and two their Canadian premiere. Made In Italy selections were programmed by Sean Farnel and international programmer Myrocia Watamaniuk.

Past Made In programs explored national and regional cinemas from such places as South America (2010), South Korea (2009), Mexico (2008), Brazil (2007), and Japan (2006), offering Hot Docs audiences revealing glimpses into the dynamic social, political, economical and cultural issues facing those societies, and have contributed a unique dimension to the Festival's programming.

The full selection of films to screen at Hot Docs 2011 will be announced on March 22. Screening dates, times and locations will also be announced at this time.

Made In Italy titles appear below, ordered alphabetically:

THE Castle
D: Massimo D'Anolfi, Martina Parenti | Italy | 90 min | North American Premiere

At Milan's Malpensa Airport, pure verité filmmaking exposes the ennui and heightened tensions of today's border security. Routine drug busts and intrusive immigration interviews pass the time, along with live lobster inspections and unexpected discoveries in cargo holds.

Cosmic Energy Inc.
D: Giuseppe Schillaci | Italy, Spain | 52 min | World Premiere

Convinced that space, nature and all human beings share the same cosmic energy, three enterprising Italians found an alternative, eco-friendly agri-business. Groovy dreamers or geniuses, can the power of pyramids and positive thinking really change the world?

Draquila - Italy Trembles
D: Sabina Guzzanti | Italy | 97 min | Canadian Premiere

Actor and political satirist Sabina Guzzanti's biting critique of government ineptitude, corruption and exploitation following the tragic 2009 earthquake that devastated L'Aquila has already been immensely controversial in Italy. Guess who's the main target?

El Sicario, Room 164
D: Gianfranco Rosi | Italy | 90 min | Canadian Premiere

A sicario, or hitman, kills, tortures and disappears people for a living. Disguised, a notorious Mexican assassin returns to the scene of one of his crimes and confesses the secrets of his lethal 20-year career.

D: Mark Olexa | Italy | 52 | International Premiere

A poor mother in Kosovo rejoices when a Milanese charity offers her baby boy life-saving surgery. But once in Italy, a series of bizarre phone calls from her husband drastically changes everything and everyone in this heart-stopping family drama.

D: Federica Di Giacomo | Italy | 90 min | North American Premiere

In the southern Italian city of Bari, over 3,000 families are waiting for a Council house. As demand swells into desperation, residents take drastic – and often downright comical – measures to keep roofs over their heads in this fascinating look at "anti-social" housing.

I am Jesus
D: Valerie Gudenus, Heloisa Sartorato | Italy | 75 min | North American Premiere

Attention, Christians – Jesus is here! Just one problem: there's three of Him. Who's the real Saviour: Vissarion from Siberia, Brazilian YouTube sensation INRO Cristo, or British ex-secret serviceman David Shayler? A first-hand look at the Second Coming.

THE Valley of the Moon
D: Giovanni Buccomino | Italy | 66 min | International Premiere

A secluded Sardinian beach is home to a stunningly blue sea, gorgeous rocky grottos, and of course, a pair of loveable hippie squatters. But when summer touristas and police arrive, their secret paradise may be headed for a total bummer.

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