Hot Docs 2018 Overview

The 25th annual Hot Docs

April 26-May 6

North America’s largest nonfiction festival will present well over 150 new doc features for its anniversary edition.


Among this year’s Special Presentations are Maya Gallus’ Opening Night Film, THE HEAT: A KITCHEN (R)EVOLUTION, on women in the culinary world; Daniel J Clark’s BEHIND THE CURVE, on the surprising resurgence in belief of a flat Earth; Richard Rowley’s THE BLUE WALL, on the exposé of the unlawful killing of an African American teenager by a Chicago police officer; Jean-Simon Chartier’s PLAYING HARD, which follows a game developer as he loses control of his idea; Jack Bryan’s ACTIVE MEASURES, on the influence of Russia on the 2016 US Presidential election; and Barry Avrich’s THE RECKONING: HOLLYWOOD’S WORST KEPT SECRET, on the Harvey Weinstein scandal.


Among the dozen titles in the International Spectrum are the world premieres of Maurice Sweeney’s I, DOLOURS, a posthumous profile of a convicted IRA bomber; Hind Bensari’s WE COULD BE HEROES, in which a Moroccan Paralympic champion protests the treatment of disabled athletes; Cameron Mullenneaux’s EXIT MUSIC, focused on a man with cystic fibrosis as he faces his end; and Shameela Seedat’s WHISPERING TRUTH TO POWER, a portrait of South African public official who faces controversy for investigating the nation’s president.


The Canadian Spectrum includes Michael Sparaga’s UNITED WE FAN, on TV fans who have organized to save their favorite shows from cancellation; Billie Mintz’s THE GUARDIANS, which explores seniors taken advantage of by court-appointed caretakers; Leon Lee’s LETTER FROM MASANJIA, on a story of human rights abuses in Chinese labor camps; Jean-François Caissy’s FIRST STRIPES, an inside-look at the Canadian Army’s boot camp; Michael Del Monte’s TRANSFORMER, on a weightlifting dad’s transition to a woman; and Joannie Lafrenière’s SNOWBIRDS, on a community of Quebecois who winter in Florida.


Debuts in the World Showcase section include Paula Eiselt’s 93QUEEN, on a pioneering Jewish female volunteer EMS team; Azadi Moghadam’s THE BROKER, a portrait of an Iranian dating agency; Audrey Gordon’s SIBLINGS, about siblings separated by foster care reuniting for summer camp; Sahim Omar Kalifa’s CORNERED IN MOLENBEEK, an observational study of a Brussels neighborhood and its Muslim community; and Cassidy Friedman’s CIRCLES, a portrait of a father championing restorative justice in an Oakland high school.


Work appearing in Artscapes includes Benoît Felici’s THE REAL THING, which surveys copycat structures around the globe; Denis Klebleev’s KING LEAR, following an octogenarian with grand aspirations to play the Shakespearean role; Beatrice Behn and René Gebhardt’s THE ARTIST & THE PERVERT, about the controversial, public BDSM relationship between an Austrian master and his African-American slave; Max Powers’ DON’T BE NICE, which follows a slam poetry team as they prepare for a competition; and Pietra Brettkelly’s YELLOW IS FORBIDDEN, on the rise of a celebrated Chinese fashion designer.


Other non-competitive sections include Nightvision, with Chuck Smith’s BARBARA RUBIN AND THE EXPLODING NY UNDERGROUND, on the overlooked avant-garde filmmaker, and Jessica Leski’s I USED TO BE NORMAL: A BOYBAND FANGIRL STORY, which explores the impact of fandom on several women; Made In Mexico, with José Pablo Estrada Torrescano’s MAMACITA, a portrait of the filmmaker’s nonagenarian grandmother, and Lindsey Cordero and Armando Croda’s hybrid I’M LEAVING NOW (YA ME VOY), on an undocumented Mexican man’s struggles in Brooklyn.


Thematic sections include: Silence Breakers, with Sahra Mani’s A THOUSAND GIRLS LIKE ME, in which a young Afghan woman publicly exposes her father’s sexual abuse, and Sarah Menzies’ AFGHAN CYCLES, on the impact on Afghan women’s independence through bicycle riding; The Good Fight, with Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s RECOVERY BOYS, an intimate look at recovery from opioid addiction, and Matthew Shoychet’s THE ACCOUNTANT OF AUSCHWITZ, on the controversial issue of prosecuting war criminals in their elder years; and The Changing Face of Europe, with Diego Pascal Panarello’s THE STRANGE SOUND OF HAPPINESS, about the filmmaker’s transformation through learning an obscure Siberian musical instrument, and Melanie Andernach and Andreas Köhler’s GLOBAL FAMILY, in which a Somalian family spread out over several countries must reunite to tend to their ailing matriarch.


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

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