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.


CS April 16, 2012 at 10:38 am

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.

Bob Turnbull April 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm

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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