Hot Docs 2020 Overview

The 27th Hot Docs

May 28-June 6 (some selections until June 24) (online)

North America’s largest documentary event goes online this year, presenting nearly 100 new features to Ontario audiences, including the world premieres noted below.


Debuts in the Special Presentations section include Bing Zhou’s HONG KONG MOMENTS, a look at the lives of residents of Hong Kong against the backdrop of pro-democracy protests; Liz Marshall’s MEAT THE FUTURE, a profile of a start up that is growing “clean” meat; and Sharon Liese’s TRANSHOOD, a longitudinal portrait of trans youth in Kansas City.


Making their world premiere in the Canadian Spectrum are titles like Nathalie Bibeau’s THE WALRUS AND THE WHISTLEBLOWER, about an animal trainer thrust into the spotlight when he reveals abuses at a Niagara Falls marine attraction; Ali Weinstein’s #BLESSED, about Canada’s fastest-growing church, catering to millennials; and François Jacob’s UNDER THE SAME SUN, a look at ethnic nationalism and conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia; while the International Spectrum presents the debuts of Eliza Kubarska’s THE WALL OF SHADOWS, about a Nepalese Sherpa family facing a moral and spiritual dilemma; and Hamed Zolfaghari’s WOMEN OF THE SUN: A CHRONOLOGY OF SEEING, on a group of Iranian village housewives fighting for gender equality.


Women are also at the core of the Persister section, with debuts including Stefanía Thors’ THE SCHOOL OF HOUSEWIVES, about a Reykjavik home economics school looking to modernize; Asia Dér and Sári Haragonics’ HER MOTHERS, about a lesbian couple facing homophobia in Hungary; THE 8TH, on Irish women’s fight against restrictive abortion laws; and Jennifer Maytorena Taylor’s FOR THE LOVE OF RUTLAND, a portrait of a depressed small Vermont town through the story of a recovering opioid addict.


In Artscapes, premieres include Barry Avrich’s MADE YOU LOOK: A TRUE STORY ABOUT FAKE ART, a compelling investigation into a notorious art fraud; Sterlin Harjo’s LOVE AND FURY, which profiles influential Native American artists; and Aleksandr M Vinogradov’s BARE, which explores taboos and the naked male body in a contemporary dance piece.


The World Showcase section offers world debuts, including: Peter Murimi’s I AM SAMUEL, about a Kenyan man who struggles to reveal his true self to his conservative family; Carlos Eduardo Lesmes Lopéz’s A LOSS OF SOMETHING EVER FELT, which follows a woman as she searches for her missing drug-addicted brother in Colombia; Bruno Santamaría Razo’s THINGS WE DARE NOT DO, about a 16 year old Mexican trans youth who faces machismo and transphobia; and Tim Ellrich and Thi Hien Mai’s MEIN VIETNAM, about a Vietnamese couple working for decades in Germany as they face an uncertain future.


Additional world premieres include Keko Chelidze’s DEAD SOULS’ VACATION, about a formerly celebrated Georgian musician living with his elderly mother, in the Changing Face of Europe; Judith Helfand’s LOVE & STUFF, about the filmmaker’s deep connection to her late mother as she herself adopts a child, in Revisionaries; Anthony Banua-Simon’s CANE FIRE, an exploration of Hawaiian history, economy, and culture, largely through its filmic representation, in To Conserve & Protect; and Trevor Birney’s THE DAKOTA ENTRAPMENT TAPES, an exploration of the mysterious death of a North Dakota college student, in Made in Northern Ireland.

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

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