Toronto 2018: Documentary Overview

The 43rd annual Toronto International Film Festival

September 6-16

This premier North American event once again presents just shy of 40 documentaries among its 240+ feature offerings, keeping in line with the slimming down put into effect last year.


Nonfiction takes centerstage in Thom Powers’ TIFF Docs section, which includes notable world premieres like Michael Moore’s FAHRENHEIT 11/9, exploring the current presidential administration; Janus Metz and Sine Plambech’s HEARTBOUND, on women who travel to Denmark to marry; Bill Corben’s SCREWBALL, an exploration of doping in Major League Baseball; Barry Avrich’s PROSECUTING EVIL: THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD OF BEN FERENCZ, a profile of the last surviving member of the Nuremberg prosecutorial team; Alexis Bloom’s DIVIDE AND CONQUER: THE STORY OF ROGER AILES, on the disgraced Fox News head; and Rashida Jones and Alex Hicks’ QUINCY, an intimate profile of iconic music producer Quincy Jones.


Among the section’s other world premiere titles are: Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble’s THE ELEPHANT QUEEN, following a pachyderm matriarch as she seeks a new home for her herd; Anand Patwardhan’s REASON, on India’s move from secularism to disturbing divisions along religious and class lines; Maxim Pozdorovkin’s THE TRUTH ABOUT KILLER ROBOTS, an exploration of the potential downside of robotic advances; Alex Holmes’ MAIDEN, on the epic adventure of the first all-female crew to race in a legendary sailing competition; Tom Donahue’s THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING, an exploration of Hollywood’s increasingly problematic gender imbalance; and Naziha Arebi’s FREEDOM FIELDS, on a female soccer team in Libya.


North American debuts in TIFF Docs include Tom Volf’s MARIA BY CALLAS, on the legendary soprano; Astra Taylor’s WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?, a wide-ranging meditation on the struggles constantly faced by democracy; Jawad Rhalib’s WHEN ARABS DANCED, which questions repressive modern-day conceptions of Islam’s relation to arts and culture; and Ron Mann’s CARMINE STREET GUITARS, a profile of a Greenwich Village guitar-maker.


There are scant offerings of nonfiction elsewhere in the lineup, among them the single doc entry of 59 Special Presentations, Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, and Edward Burtynsky’s ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH, a rumination on how humanity has indelibly left its mark on the world; and the innovative Wavelengths section, which includes among its offerings James Benning’s experimental meditation, L COHEN; Ghassan Halwani’s consideration of the disappeared of the Lebanese Civil War, ERASED, ___ ASCENT OF THE INVISIBLE; and Igor Drljaca’s exploration of landmarks serving as strange tourist attractions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, THE STONE SPEAKERS.


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

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