Docs Opening in Canada this Week (Jan. 19-25)

The Final Year
Magnolia Pictures

By Pat Mullen

One might be tempted to bring some Kleenex to The Final Year. The film opens a year (less a day) after the unfortunate inauguration of Donald Trump, and as director Greg Barker goes behind the scenes of the White House to chronicle the last months of Barack Obama’s presidency, The Final Year provides a stirring reminder of what strong leadership looks like. Goodness knows we haven’t seen it from the current guy holding the job. Rather than serve as a greatest hits reel of the Obama years, The Final Year offers snippets of the former president’s working relationships with key staffers as the White House used the home stretch of Obama’s presidency to improve the world. Don’t let The Final Year get you down, though. See it as an optimistic reminder of goodwill, rather than a tragic portrait of lost progress. In the spirit of democracy, we have two takes on The Final Year: one from Daniel Glassman and the other by Pat Mullen.

Gathering around the pub and belting out a few numbers over pints might be fun, but some ditties hold more significance than we might expect. Take, for example, the songs that Scottish “pop culture raconteur” Aidan Moffat encounters in Where You’re Meant to Be. Moffat seeks to remake traditional Scottish folk songs by reinterpreting them with contemporary words and readings. However, as he performs the new tunes at pubs across the land, he encounters angry faces and cries of blasphemy. This study of cultural heritage and the survival of traditions offers an intriguing addition to recent debates about cultural appropriation as it asks audiences to read between the lines. Read the POV review of Where You’re Meant to Be here.

Also notable this week is the screening of Manic at Hot Docs Cinema on #BellLetsTalk day to spark discussions on mental illness, while award-winning hybrid drama Luk’Luk’I screens at Canada’s Top Ten.

Opening this Week:

Faces Places
Dir. Agnès Varda, JR | France | 90 min.
-Kingston, ON: The Screening Room – Sun, Jan. 21; Wed, Jan. 24
-Toronto, ON: The Regent – Sat, Jan. 20

The Final Year Review 1 | Review 2
Dir. Greg Barker | USA | 89 min.
-Edmonton, AB: Metro Cinema – Fri, Jan. 19 – Mon, Jan. 22
-Regina, SK: Regina Public Library – Fri, Jan. 19 – Sun, Jan. 21
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Fri, Jan. 19 – Thurs, Jan. 25
-Vancouver, BC: Vancity Theatre – Fri, Jan. 19 – Sun, Jan. 21; Tues, Jan. 23

Letters from Baghdad
Dir. Sabine Krayenbühl, Zeva Oelbaum | UK/France | 92 min.
-Cobourg, ON: Cobourg Loft – Fri, Jan. 19 – Sat, Jan. 20; Mon, Jan. 22

Dir. Wayne Wapeemukwa | Canada | 80 min.
-Toronto, ON: TIFF Lightbox – Sat, Jan. 20 – Sun, Jan. 21
—>Featuring a Q&A with director Wayne Wapeemukwa

A Man of Dance
Dir. Marie Brodeur | Canada | 83 min.
-Toronto, ON: Toronto Dance Theatre – Wed, Jan. 23
—>Post-screening Q&A with director Marie Brodeur and guests

Dir. Kalina Bertin | Canada | 84 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Wed, Jan. 24
—>Featuring a post-screening conversation about mental illness

Dir. Jennifer Peedom | Australia | 74 min.
-Cobourg, ON: Cobourg Loft – Sun, Jan. 21
-Edmonton, AB: Metro Cinema – Fri, Jan. 19 – Sat, Jan. 20; Mon, Jan. 22 – Tues, Jan. 23; Thurs, Jan. 25

On Putin’s Blacklist
Dir. Boris Ivanov | Canada | 76 min.
-Regina, SK: Regina Public Library – Fri, Jan. 19 – Sun, Jan. 21

The Road Movie
Dir. Dmitrii Kalashnikov | Russia | 67 min.
-Toronto, ON: The Royal – Sat, Jan. 20; Tues, Jan. 23

The Stairs
Dir. Hugh Gibson | Canada | 90 min.
-Edmonton, AB: Metro Cinema – -Regina, SK: Regina Public Library – Thurs, Jan. 25

Where You’re Meant to Be
Dir. Paul Fegan | 76 min. | UK
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Sat, Jan. 20 – Mon, Jan. 22; Thurs, Jan. 18

Enjoy a week at the movies!