Docs Opening in Canada this Week (Jan. 12-18)


By Pat Mullen

The docs are alive with the sound of music! Big screens were made for Mountain. This spectacular doc from Sherpa director Jennifer Peedom features a wall-to-wall score by the Australian Symphony Orchestra that accompanies awe-inspiring aerial shots and POV cinematography from the highest peaks of the world. The film meditates upon the relationship between humans and mountains, and our foolish desire to conquer these rocky heights, but some thrilling footage provides a rush as Peedom lets one experience the thrill of adventure that inspires some daredevils to test the limits from high above. “There is something utterly thrilling about a film that lets one visit high corners of the world that one will likely never go to physically,” we wrote in our review of Mountain. “This cinematic essay on the power and aura of the mountains is a breathtaking ride.” Read the POV review of Mountain here.

Discover an extraordinary and moving story of family ties in Aida’s Secrets. This doc follows Izak Szewelwicz as he longs to know more about his family history having been born in a refugee camp in 1945. He eventually met his birth mother, but, as quests for answers are prone to do, the search yielded another discovery: he had a brother. One twist reveals another in this compelling story of secrets and lies that takes the family across oceans and continents for a bittersweet reunion that huts as much as it heals. The doc draws upon interviews and archival footage to show the various modes of survival people used to make it through the Holocaust and create a life afterwards. The film also powerfully conveys the aftershocks that still ripple to this day as survivors seek closure and meaning. Read the POV review of Aida’s Secrets here.

It’s a relatively low-key year for Canada’s Top Ten, but the non-fiction front boasts a respectable trio of documentaries and an innovative hybrid. Alanis Obomsawin remarkably makes the list for the first time with her 50th film Our People Will Be Healed, while Charles Officer nabs a spot for his festival hit Unarmed Verses. The electrifying Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World provides an engaging and seamlessly assembled tribute to the unsung Indigenous musicians in rock and roll history and newcomer Wayne Wapeemukwa deconstructs the nation as we perceive it and the Canada that exists in reality in Luk’Luk’I by merging fiction and non-fiction.

Opening this Week:

Aida’s Secrets
Dir. Alon Schwarz, Shaul Schwarz | Israel/Germany/Canada | 90 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Fri, Jan. 12 – Thurs, Jan. 18

Dir. Karina Holden | Australia | 76 min.
-Vancouver, BC: Vancity Theatre – Fri, Jan. 12 – Sun, Jan. 14; Thurs, Jan. 18

Faces Places
Dir. Agnès Varda, JR | France | 90 min.
-Kingston, ON: The Screening Room – Mon, Jan. 15; Wed, Jan. 17
-Ottawa, ON: ByTowne Cinema – Sun, Jan. 14 – Mon, Jan. 15

Dir. Wayne Wapeemukwa | Canada | 80 min.
-Vancouver, BC: Vancouver Cinematheque – Sat, Jan. 13

Dir. Jennifer Peedom | Australia | 74 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Fri, Jan. 12 – Sun, Jan. 14; Tues, Jan. 16

Our People Will Be Healed
Dir. Alanis Obomsawin | Canada | 96 min.
-Toronto, ON: TIFF Lightbox – Wed, Jan. 17 – Thurs, Jan. 18
—>Intro and Q&A with director Alanis Obomsawin
-Vancouver, BC: Vancouver Cinematheque – Thurs, Jan. 18

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World
Dir. Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana | Canada/USA | 120 min.
-Toronto, ON: TIFF Lightbox – Mon, Jan. 15 – Tues, Jan. 16
-Vancouver, BC: Vancouver Cinematheque – Thurs, Jan. 18
-Winnipeg, MB: Winnipeg Cinematheque – Fri, Jan. 12 – Sat, Jan. 13

The S Word
Dir. Lisa Klein | USA | 93 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Wed, Jan. 17

Trouble No More
Dir. Jennifer Lebeau | USA | 60 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Sat, Jan. 13
-Vancouver, BC: Vancity Theatre – Mon, Jan. 15

Unarmed Verses
Dir. Charles Officer | Canada | 85 min.
-Toronto, ON: TIFF Lightbox – Mon, Jan. 15, Thurs, Jan. 18
—>Intro and Q&A with director Charles Officer
-Vancouver, BC: Vancouver Cinematheque – Sun, Jan. 14

Where Dreams Go to Die
Dir. Ethan Newberry | Canada | TBA
-Toronto, ON: The Regent – Sun, Jan. 14

Enjoy a week at the movies!