Hot Docs 2011 Overview

I have been horribly remiss in preparing this post previewing the titles in Hot Docs’ lineup that I’m looking forward to checking out. So remiss, in fact, that this “preview” will actually be posted on the third day of the festival, North America’s largest documentary event. Oops. Still, as of this writing, I haven’t yet arrived in Toronto, so putting this together has helped me figure out my schedule if nothing else.

Before I get to the films, a few words about the festival. I’ve only been attending Hot Docs since 2009, covering the event for indieWIRE each year (take a look at my coverage for 2009 here, here, and here, and for 2010 here, here, and here). Last year, I pulled double duty, also attending as co-producer of THE CANAL STREET MADAM, which screened to enthusiastic Toronto audiences. I’m a big fan of Hot Docs – the festival features smart programming and attracts fantastic, dedicated audiences. Not to disparage TIFF in any way, but I also enjoy the city of Toronto much more in Hot Doc’s less congested environment.

Taking a look at the 2011 lineup, the festival is packed with far too many films that I want to see than I will be able to in my weeklong trip. If I get a chance to see a fraction of the following, I will be thrilled.

Going programming section by section, let’s start with the International Spectrum. Out of the 25 films here, I have seen and recommend Sundance winners HOW TO DIE IN OREGON and HELL AND BACK AGAIN, plus fellow alum THE INTERRUPTERS; SXSW’s grand jury winner DRAGONSLAYER; True/False’s AT THE EDGE OF RUSSIA; and the charming BOY CHEERLEADERS (pictured), which I’ve seen an earlier cut of and liked a great deal. Of the remaining, I’m especially keen to see OUR NEWSPAPER, NEW CASTLE, MEMOIRS OF A PLAGUE, IMAGINING EMANUEL, LOVE CRIMES OF KABUL (by BE LIKE OTHERS’ Tanaz Eshaghian), and THE COLLABORATOR AND HIS FAMILY (by THE GARDEN’s Ruthie Shatz and Adi Barash).

In the 36-film World Showcase, we once again have a great cross-section of favorites from other notable fests – standouts include Sundance alums IF A TREE FALLS, THE REDEMPTION OF GENERAL BUTT NAKED, THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975, KNUCKLE, WE WERE HERE, THE BENGALI DETECTIVE, and HOT COFFEE; IDFA titles EL BULLI and FAMILY INSTINCT; SXSW alums BETTER THIS WORLD and KUMARÉ; and Tribeca alum GIVE UP TOMORROW, among others. I also recommend BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN, MOTHERS OF BEDFORD, and OPEN SECRET (pictured), all making their world premieres here. There are quite a few other titles I’m hoping to catch, including THE TEAM, AFTER THE APOCALYPSE, PEOPLE IN WHITE, MATCHMAKING MAYOR, HOW ARE YOU DOING, RUDOLF MING?, and ZELAL.

The 16 films in Canadian Spectrum include Sundance alum FAMILY PORTRAIT IN BLACK AND WHITE, and the also recommended BEAUTY DAY (pictured). Other titles here that have caught my eye include INSIDE LARA ROXX, PEOPLE OF A FEATHER, HIGHWAY GOSPEL, and THE PIRATE TAPES.

Among the 28 Special Presentations are a special memorial presentation of Sundance alum RESTREPO, plus other Sundance titles PROJECT NIM, BEING ELMO, BECOMING CHAZ, BOBBY FISCHER AGAINST THE WORLD, MAGIC TRIP, POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD, SENNA, BUCK, and BEATS, RHYMES & LIFE. Also notable here are Tribeca’s THE BULLY PROJECT and CAROL CHANNING; IDFA’s MY BAREFOOT FRIEND and POSITION AMONG THE STARS, CPH:DOX’s THE GOOD LIFE; and SXSW’s FIGHTVILLE. Films on my list from this section include titles I missed at other fests, such as Berlin titles THE ADVOCATE FOR FAGDOM on Bruce LaBruce, and IN HEAVEN, UNDERGROUND; and Tribeca’s LIMELIGHT; plus VODKA FACTORY, DOLPHIN BOY, and THE HOLLYWOOD COMPLEX (pictured).

The 20 films of the Next section include the fantastic Sundance winner RESURRECT DEAD and, from IDFA,
, plus THE BALLAD OF GENESIS AND LADY JAYE from Berlin. Of titles I haven’t seen, I’m most drawn to SOMEWHERE TO DISAPPEAR and HOW TO MAKE A BOOK WITH STEIDL (pictured), plus CHEONGGYECHEON MEDLEY, which I missed at IDFA.

Of the 11 films in the special Workers of the World! section, I hope to have the opportunity to fit in MAIDS & BOSSES (pictured), THE LUMBERFROS, LIVING SKIN, and ALL FOR THE GOOD OF THE WORLD AND NOSOVICE.

Finally, rounding out the new work being shown at Hot Docs, the festival turns a spotlight on Italy this year with the eight title Made in Italy section. All of these sound intriguing, especially I AM JESUS (pictured), EL SICARIO, HOUSING, and HEART-QUAKE.

1 Comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

One response to “Hot Docs 2011 Overview

  1. Hey Basil,

    I was searching the internet today and was excited to find you were interested in seeing our film “People of a Feather” at the Hot Docs International Film Festival. My name is Evan Warner and I’m the editor and post coordinator for the film. Both Director / Producer Joel Heath and I are in Toronto attending the festival and just wanted to let you know that if you want to check out any more information on the film you can find a trailer here ( and lots of other information at ( I very much hope to see you at one of the screenings.

    Evan Warner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.