Hot Docs 2012 Preview, Part 1

by James McNally on April 16, 2012 · 2 comments

in Documentaries,Film Festivals,Hot Docs

Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival (April 26-May 6, 2012)

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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