Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival 2010

Roger Ebert has stated that "documentaries are at the cutting edge of independent film right now, and new technologies are making them more immediate and observant than ever.” Now we'll have our chance to see just how right on his observation is.

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival held a press conference this morning at the Gardiner Ceramic Museum to announce their line up for next month, April 29-May 9. Hot Docs is the largest documentary film festival in North America and also hosts a vital industry component for filmmakers and anyone remotely interested in making docs. It screens a wide range of films from all over the world and many of its selections go on to win major awards, such as the latest Best Documentary Oscar-winner The Cove, which played at Hot Docs in 2009.

This year's festival includes some high-profile films such as Casino Jack and the United States of Money about the disgraced  Republican lobbyist and financial swindler. It's the latest film by Alex Gibney, who was Oscar-nominated for his 2005 doc Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and won for his 2007 film Taxi to the Dark Side. We'll get a chance to see Steven Soderbergh's profile of the late Spalding Gray And Everything Is Going Fine. There are profiles on celebrities such as legendary Canadian rockers Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, and of the comedienne Joan Rivers - A Piece Of Work.

Some of the films promise to be intimate and touching. The opening film is Babies which takes a close look at four babies from Mongolia, Namibia, San Francisco and Tokyo. Nénette is a fascinating observation of an orangutan and the comments that zoo visitors make. There are inspirational films about music, such as Toronto filmmaker Juan Baquero's Listen to This about a songwriting program in the inner city schools at Jane and Finch, and the funny Complaints Choir where choirs around the world take gripes submitted to them and set it to music.

Screenings before 6pm are free for students and seniors with valid ID.

For more information and to see the full schedule, check the website http://www.hotdocs.ca/

Here is the full press release:

APRIL 29 TO MAY 9, 2010

Toronto, March 23, 2010 – Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, North America's largest documentary festival, conference and market, proudly returns for its 17th annual edition from April 29 to May 9, 2010.  Showcasing the best Canadian and international documentaries, Hot Docs is set to welcome delegates, filmmakers and audiences to Toronto for this 11-day event.  This year, Hot Docs will screen over 170 documentaries from 41 countries on 10 different screens across Toronto's downtown core.

"We are coming off of the strongest year for documentary filmmaking in recent memory, and 2010 delivers another rich harvest for doc lovers," says Chris McDonald, executive director of Hot Docs. "These films chronicle the lives of the ordinary and extraordinary, the heroes and monsters, the impossible and unimaginable, and, of course, the sublime and the ridiculous. Sharing these films with our audiences and welcoming these filmmakers to our festival is a great honour."

This year's Festival will feature 166 official selections  and retrospective titles in ten programs, as well as nine films by young filmmakers aged 14 to 18 screening in this year's Doc It! showcase, and 12 films selected as finalists in the International Documentary Challenge.  Official selections were chosen form a total 2088 films submitted to the Festival.

"Why have documentaries so significantly gained popularity over the past decade?" asks Hot Docs' Director of Programming Sean Farnel. "Probably because they're good multi-taskers; they can be and do anything. And yet there's something deeper, too. They foster coherence in a fractured world, they push stories and people from the periphery into the center of our screens, and they have fresh points-of-view, creative energy, poetry. All qualities we see across the Hot Docs 2010 program."

Hot Docs will open with the Canadian premiere of Thomas Balmès' BABIES (France, 79 min), which simultaneously follows four babies from around the world – from remote locations in Namibia and Mongolia to the urban metropolises of Tokyo and San Francisco. Hot Docs will also present the Canadian premiere of Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn's Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (Canada, 106 min) on opening night, which chronicles one of Canada’s greatest rock bands, the influential and iconic Rush.

Highlighting a diverse blend of award-winning films, the Festival’s Special Presentations program features 19 selections, including AND EVERYTHING IS GOING FINE, (USA, 89 min) a documentary about late theatre artist Spadling Gray by Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh; Casino Jack and the United States of Money (USA, 120 min), Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney’s powerful essay on the dysfunctional processes of the U.S. political system; Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s Joan Rivers - A Piece Of Work (USA, 89 min), an all-access exposé that peels back Rivers’ nipped 'n tucked public mask; Nicolas Philibert’s Nénette (France, 70 min), a captivating study of an enigmatic orangutan and our relationship to her; José Padilha’s Secrets of the Tribe (UK, Brazil, 94 min), which exposes jaw-dropping ethical breaches by anthropologists studying an isolated tribe in the Amazon Basin; actor Adrian Grenier’s TEENAGE PAPARAZZO (USA, 101 min), which turns the camera onto a 13-year-old paparazzo, and Lucy Walker’s Waste Land (UK, Brazil, 99 min), a transcendent doc that follows artist Vik Muniz and his work with pickers of recyclable materials in Brazil's Jardim Gramacho, the world's largest landfill site.

Compelling homegrown stories and perspectives are showcased in this year’s Canadian Spectrum program, which features 23 films, including the world premieres of Maya Gallus’ DISH – WOMEN, WAITRESSING AND THE ART OF SERVICE (Canada, 70 min); Shelley Saywell’s IN THE NAME OF THE FAMILY (Canada, 90 min), a powerful and sensitive investigation into the killing of young girls in the name of family honour in North America; John Zaritsky’s LEAVE THEM LAUGHING (Canada/USA, 89 min), about mother, performer, and darkly funny smart-ass Carla Zilbersmith and her battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease; John Kastner’s LIFE WITH MURDER (Canada, 93 min), which captures the ordeal of small-town-Ontario parents who steadfastly stand by their son after he is convicted of killing his sister, and the Toronto premiere of Mike Hoolboom’s MARK (Canada, 70 min), a personal homage to the filmmaker’s friend and collaborator, Mark, a punk, activist and transsexual-loving humanist.

Thirty-two thought-provoking stories from around the world are shared in the International Spectrum program, including the world premiere of Jan Tenhaven’s AUTUMN GOLD (Austria/Germany, 94 min), which chronicles a group of top senior track and field athletes aged 80 and up as they train for the World Masters Championships; the North American premiere of David Sieveking’s DAVID WANTS TO FLY (Germany/Austria/Switzerland, 96 min), which follows filmmaking idol David Lynch’s search for enlightenment through Transcendental Meditation; Thorkell Hardarsson and Orn Marino Arnarson’s FEATHERED COCAINE (Iceland, 80 min), in which a falconer enters into a world of international intrigue and obsession; Jeff Malmberg’s MARWENCOL (USA, 83 min), which follows the discovery of instant “artist” Mark Hogencamp and the miniature WWII-era town he has constructed in his backyard; Laura Poitras’s THE OATH (USA/Yemen, 97 min), a complex, mysterious portrait of Abu Jandal, a former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden; Joonas Berghäll and Mika Hotakainen’s STEAM OF LIFE (Finland, 82 min), which sees naked men in saunas talking straight from the heart, and Alexander Gentelev’s THIEVES BY LOVE (Israel/Germany, 90 min), a raw look into the world’s most notorious criminal organization via three former kingpins of the Russian Mafia.

Everyday acts of kindness, leadership and change are explored in the 10 titles screening in this year’s themed program, Small Acts, and 10 retrospective titles will screen in Ripping Reality, which will share essential works from documentary's new wave. The 2010 Made In program includes 12 films from thriving filmmaking communities of South America, and the Outstanding Achievement and Focus On retrospective programs will revisit the works of internationally-acclaimed vérité filmmaker Kim Longinotto and Canadian documentarian Tahani Rached, respectively.

The 2010 Festival will also include 26 films in the World Showcase program, an eclectic mix of the best the world has to offer, and 19 films in the Next program, which celebrates the arts, creativity and pop culture.

Many of Hot Docs' official selections are world, international or North American premieres and the majority of filmmakers will be in attendance to participate in post-screening discussions, as well as other Festival events.

In addition to screenings, international buyers and industry professionals will attend the Festival to participate in a full slate of conference and market events.  These events include the world-renowned Toronto Documentary Forum and a vast number of other market and networking opportunities.

Hot Docs is North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market.  From April 29 to May 9, 2010, Hot Docs will present an outstanding selection of 170+ documentaries from Canada and around the world to Toronto audiences and international delegates.  Hot Docs will also mount a full roster of conference sessions, market events and services for documentary practitioners, including the renowned Toronto Documentary Forum, May 5 and 6, and The Doc Shop.

The Hot Docs documentary Box Office (55 Avenue Road, 2 blocks north of Bloor St. W., lower level of Hazelton Lanes) is open for advance ticket and pass sales.  Tickets can be purchased in person, online at www.hotdocs.ca, or by phone at 416-637-5150.  Single tickets to screenings are $12 each.  Late night screenings (after 11 p.m.) are $5 each or $10 for an All-You-Can-Eat Late Night Pass (one ticket to each screening).  A Festival Pass (10 tickets) is $98 and a Premium Pass (one ticket to every screening, excluding those running concurrently) is $180 ($300 for two passes). Free tickets for all screenings before 6 p.m. are available for students and seniors (subject to availability) with valid photo ID at the venue box offices on the day of the screening.

Hot Docs is proud to include Rogers, Telefilm Canada and documentary as its Presenting Partners, with special support from the Government of Ontario.