Docs Opening in Canada this Week (Dec. 2 - 8)

Grandma Adela talks to her husband in a scene from The Apology.
Courtesy of the NFB

By Pat Mullen

Clear your schedules because this week might be the best week for docs in some time. Three great films, all of which are Canadian, hit the screen and save some of 2016’s best for last.

First on any list must be Tiffany Hsiung’s The Apology. This staggering doc follows three women in Asia, known respectfully as ‘Grandmothers’, as they seek an apology from the Japanese government for crimes committed against them during the Pacific War. Hsiung plays both filmmaker and friend to these woman as she creates a strong and comforting relationship with her subjects simply by doing what far too few people do: she listens. The Apology offers a cathartic outlet for the Grandmothers as they put their stories on record and let their voices be heard. Told with the utmost sensitivity and compassion, The Apology isn’t just one of the best docs of the year, it’s one of the NFB’s best docs ever. (Read the POV review of The Apology here.)

A second new voice in Canadian documentary that demands to be seen is Vancouverite John Bolton with his flat-out insane film Aim for the Roses. This ingenious hybrid film is extremely ambitious as it chronicles the story of a musician who created a conceptual album based on a daredevil who tried to jump the St. Lawrence River in a rocket car. Bolton mixes outrageous new musical number with archival footage and interviews to orchestrate the sagas of these two eccentrics with dramatic gusto. Aim for the Roses brings a completely new perspective to documentary by performing a daredevil act of its own grand madness. (Read more about Aim for the Roses in the _POV feature ‘Performing Documentary’.)

Doc fans in search of comfort food will find soulful nourishment in Peter Svatek’s Theatre of Life. The film profiles Italian master chef Massimo Bottura and his effort to create a ‘refettorio’ movement by taking soup kitchens to a new level and feeding the homeless with gourmet plates made entirely out of food waste. Shots of mouth-watering delicacies provide obvious noms and food porn in this NFB doc, but the real bite of the film is in the tender eye that Svatek has for the patrons of Bottura’s table. Featuring candid interviews and portraits of various homeless persons from diverse walks of life, the doc emphasizes how much sustenance one finds in sharing a meal with friends. (Read more on Theatre of Life in an excerpt from our upcoming cover story.)

Finally, Oscar winner Alex Gibney puts a bug in Doc Soup as he serves up one of his stronger docs in Zero Days. The paranoia is real as Gibney investigates a mysterious and aggressive computer virus that stumps even the most sophisticated of programmers. This tense film unpacks the complexity of cyber warfare as the director talks to various computer whizzes and security suits, including one brave whistleblower who provides information far graver and more terrifying than anything in Citizenfour. (Check back soon for the POV review of Zero Days!)

Films continuing their runs include Anatomy of Violence, The Eagle Huntress, Gimme Danger, Fire at Sea, London Road, Landfill Harmonic, Tower, and Where the Universe Sings.

Additional docs screen at the Hot Docs Showcase this week at The Screening Room in Kingston: Spaceship Earth, The League of Exotique Dancers, Life, Animated, Angry Inuk, The Missing Ingredient, and I am the Blues.

Docs opening in Canada this week:

Aim for the Roses Review | Feature/Interview
Dir. John Bolton | Canada | 104 min.
-Vancouver, BC: Vancity Theatre – Fri, Dec. 2 – Thurs, Dec. 8
—>Dec 2 Friday Screening – Intro and Q&A by filmmaker, John Bolton and musical performace by The Patsy Klien/Tony Wilson Quartet will be performing Mark Haney’s Aim for the Roses song cycle as featured in film.
—>Dec 2, 3, 4 – Q&A with filmmaker John Bolton, actor Andre Macnee, and composer Mark Haney.

The Apology Review | Profile
Dir. Tiffany Hsiung | Canada | 104 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Fri, Dec. 2 – Thurs, Dec. 8
—>Director Tiffany Hsiung will be in attendance for Q&As Dec. 6-8.
-Vancouver, BC: Vancity Theatre – Sat, Dec. 3 – Sun, Dec. 4
—>Director Tiffany Hsiung in attendance.

KONELĪNE: our land beautiful Feature: ‘Being Wild’ | Review | Filmmaker Diary
Dir. Nettie Wild | Canada | 96 min.
-Calgary, AB: Globe Cinema – Fri, Dec. 2 – Sun, Dec. 4

One More Time with Feeling
Dir. Andrew Dominik | UK | 112 min.
-Montreal, QC: Cinema du Parc – Fri, Dec. 2 – Thurs, Dec. 8
-Ottawa, ON: Mayfair Theatre – Sat, Dec. 3 – Mon, Dec. 5

Rolling Stones Havana Moon (aka The Rolling Stones Olé Olé Olé! A Trip Across Latin America)
Dir. Peter Dugdale | UK | 105 min.
-Cobourg, ON: Cobourg Loft – Tues, Dec. 6

Theatre of Life
Dir. Peter Svatek | Canada | 94 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Sat, Dec. 3 – Mon, Dec. 5

Zero Days
Dir. Alex Gibney | USA | 116 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Wed, Dec. 7 – Thurs, Dec. 8
—>Film subject Eric Chien will be in attendance at all screenings.

Enjoy a week at the movies!

Visit First Weekend Club for more info on Canadian films opening around the country!