Hot Docs 2012 Preview, Part 1

It’s hard to believe, but I will be attend­ing my ninth Hot Docs this year. My favour­ite film fest­ival cel­eb­rates its 19th edi­tion from April 26th through May 6th with an abund­ance of new energy. From a new pro­gram­ming dir­ector (Charlotte Cook) to a newly-reopened show­case Bloor Cinema, this year’s fest­ival prom­ises to sat­isfy and even exceed Toronto doc­u­ment­ary fans’ high expect­a­tions.

Here are a few films on my per­sonal radar. If I’ve been able to see the film ahead of the fest­ival, I’ll provide a cap­sule review. Otherwise, I’ll just tell you why I’m inter­ested in see­ing it.

Look for a few more of these in the weeks to come, along with full reviews from me and the “Doc Brothers,” Jay and Drew Kerr.

Scarlet Road

Scarlet Road (Director: Catherine Scott)

It’s a ter­rible and prob­ably offens­ive ste­reo­type, sure, but Rachel Wotton really is a “hooker with a heart of gold.” This Australian sex worker spe­cial­izes in work­ing with dis­abled cli­ents, believ­ing that every­one has a right to express their sexu­al­ity. The film spends a bit too much time fol­low­ing Rachel around as she attends con­fer­ences and protests, but does man­age to provide some great insights into the sex lives of people who are too often mar­gin­al­ized. More time spent inter­view­ing both the cli­ents and Rachel would have been enlight­en­ing, since the film raises all kinds of issues around both the dig­nity of sex work and of liv­ing a full human exist­ence, no mat­ter what soci­ety thinks.

Finding Truelove

Finding Truelove (Director: Sam Kuhn)

A group of twentyso­mething hip­ster friends in Portland buy an old year­book and become obsessed with the gradu­at­ing class. When they real­ize the class will cel­eb­rate their 20 year reunion, they buy tick­ets online and set out on a road trip. This “oh-so-ironic” homage to the ‘90s falls flat as the gang try so des­per­ately to have “cool” exper­i­ences with 40-year-olds whose per­so­nas they have cre­ated in their fantas­ies. They get a comeup­pance of sorts, but the whole adven­ture is not par­tic­u­larly sat­is­fy­ing to any­one.

Off Label

Off Label (Directors: Donal Mosher and Michael Palmieri)

Directed by the team behind the deeply per­sonal October Country (2009) (review), this film takes on the epi­demic of pre­scrip­tion drug use among Americans, espe­cially “off label” use, where the drug is taken for reas­ons other than the med­ic­ally indic­ated pur­pose. I am curi­ous to see how film­makers who seem to approach their work from such a deeply humane and impres­sion­istic per­spect­ive take on sub­ject mat­ter usu­ally covered in a more “issue doc” fash­ion.


Tchoupitoulas (Directors: Turner Ross and Bill Ross)

The broth­ers Ross pre­vi­ously made 45635, a gor­geously med­it­at­ive look at their own homet­own of Sidney, Ohio. Here they turn their atten­tion to New Orleans, fol­low­ing a group of three teen boys as they sneak out one night to dis­cover the city and its music.

¡Vivan las antipodas!

¡Vivan las anti­po­das! (Director: Victor Kossakovsky)

An anthro­po­lo­gical reflec­tion, sim­ilar to films like Life in a Day or even Babies, Kossakovsky’s doc­u­ment­ary takes the idea of “anti­podes” (geo­graph­ical points on oppos­ite sides of the globe) as its start­ing point. Contrasting ways of life in 8 dif­fer­ent places (4 pairs of anti­podes), his cam­era lingers and even flips to reveal the many facets of life on this planet.

Meanwhile in Mamelodi

Meanwhile in Mamelodi (Director: Benjamin Kahlmeyer)

Shot in the Mamelodi town­ship dur­ing the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, this film exam­ines the foot­ball phe­nomenon from the per­spect­ive of those just out­side of the big party. The euphoria that greeted the begin­ning of the tour­na­ment (and the South African team’s bet­ter-than-expec­ted per­form­ance) gradu­ally gives way to a more real­istic pic­ture of their chances, both in the sport­ing arena and more per­son­ally.

Stay tuned for more pre­views as the fest­ival approaches. And visit the Hot Docs box office at 783 Bathurst (or online) to get your tick­ets.

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2 Responses to Hot Docs 2012 Preview, Part 1

  1. CS says:

    Tchoupitolas is very high on my list of films to see at the fest­ival this year. Scarlet Road is also on my short list, assum­ing I can get my sched­ule to work out the way I hope.

  2. Bob Turnbull says:

    Yeah, Tchoupitoulas is near the top of my list too. I really loved “45365”, so I can’t wait to see their take on New Orleans (espe­cially through the eyes of the kids).

    Just star­ted watch­ing the screener of “¡Vivan las anti­podas!” last night. It’s quite beau­ti­ful and I may need to try to catch it on the big screen again. No voi­ceover or com­ment­ary is sup­plied and, so far, none is required.

    Can’t wait for the Ginger Baker doc!

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