Docs Opening in Canada this Week (May 12-18)

Julian Assange in Risk.
Courtesy of Praxis Films.

By Pat Mullen

Laura Poitras follows-up her Oscar winning over-hyped bore Citizenfour with Risk, another tense character study of a radical who changed the world through the power of the World Wide Web. Risk profiles WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange as as he waits in asylum to evade charges of sexual assault in Sweden and fears of a bigger legal battle with the White House over the publication of secret documents including war logs. The film documents Assange over a six-year-period to capture his struggle and his persistence to spread the truth, and Poitras captures the dynamics of power and gender that collide within his mission. Assange himself is among the film’s biggest critics—some words in this Variety interview with Laura Poitras suggest why—so audiences shouldn’t expect the same heroic portrait they saw in Poitras’s previous doc. In his review of the film, POV’s Marc Glassman calls Risk “an unsettling portrait of an enigmatic figure” and “a must-see.” Read the POV review of Risk here.

Music fans can swell with the beautiful music of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Story opens in Toronto at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema after premiering to great acclaim at TIFF last year. “Dutifully addressing Coltrane’s diversity and supplying historical context,” writes José Teodoro at Cinema Scope, “Chasing Trane functions as a solid primer for newcomers, while its stunning performance clips, winsome home movies and teeming cavalcade of interviewees…will keep aficionados perfectly engaged.”

Also opening at HDTRC this week is Sébastien Chabot wonderful The Gardener about the late Frank Cabot, who cultivated green work of art at Le Quatre Vents in Charlevoix, Quebec. The film speaks with Cabot about his expansive English-style garden and his passion blossoms into a film of greater ecological concerns. “I wanted to make was a positive film about the environment and look at the inspirational aspects,” said Chabot in an interview with POV. “If you take the time to appreciate a beautiful landscape or garden, you’re more attune to preserving the environment. That’s how I see it.”

Trailer The Gardener from Sébastien Chabot on Vimeo.

Other doc screenings of note include the final days of DOXA and the Toronto Jewish Film Festival and the ongoing PEAK Goethe Docs.

Opening this Week:

Black Code
Dir. Nick de Pencier | Canada | 89 min.
-Calgary, AB: Globe Cinema – Fri, May 12 – Sun, May 14; Tues, May 15 – Thurs, May 18

Call of the Forest
Dir. Jeff McKay | Canada | 82 min.
-Toronto, ON: Art Gallery of Ontario – Fri, May 12 – Sat, May 13
—>Panel discussion and reception May 12
—>filmmaker Q&A May 13
—>Pick up a copy of POV #106 to read more about Call of the Forest!

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary
Dir. John Scheinfeld | USA | 99 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Fri, May 12 – Thurs, May 18

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
Dir. Matt Tyrnauer | USA | 92 min.
-Cobourg, ON: Cobourg Loft – Wed, May 17
-Kingston, ON: The Screening Room – Fri, May 12 – Thurs, May 18
-Montreal, QC: Cinema du Parc – Fri, May 12 – Thurs, May 18
-Vancouver, BC: Vancity Theatre – Fri, May 12

Contemporary Colour
Dir. Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross | USA | 97 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Fri, May 12

The Gardener
Dir. Sébastien Chabot | Canada | 88 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Fri, May 12 – Thurs, May 25; Sun, May 28; Tues, May 30 – Wed, May 31

Dir. Laura Poitras | Germany/USA | 92 min.
-Montreal, QC: Cinema du Parc – Fri, May 12 – Thurs, May 18
-Toronto, ON: TIFF Bell Lighbox – Fri, May 12 – Thurs, May 18

The River of My Dreams: A Portrait of Gordon Pinsent
Dir. Brigitte Berman | Canada | 104 min.
-Edmonton, AB: Metro Cinema – Wed, May 17

Retro Screenings:

Bird on a Wire
Dir. Tony Palmer | UK | 1974 | 97 min.
-Cobourg, ON: Cobourg Loft – Fri, May 12 – Sat, May 13
—>Read a profile of Bird on a Wire director Tony Palmer in POV #106!

Reading Alistair McLeod
Dir. William D. MacGillivray | Canada | 2005 | 88 min.
-Winnipeg, MB: Winnipeg Cinematheque – Sun, May 14
—>Introduced by Bill MacGillivray

Reel Injun
Dir. Catherine Bainbridge, Neil Diamond, Jeremiah Hayes | Canada | 2009 | 86 min.
-Toronto, ON: TIFF Bell Lighbox – Sun, May 14
—>Features a conversation with Ariel Smith, Melanie Hadley, and Cowboy Smith moderated by TIFF programmer Jesse Wente

Titicut Follies
Dir. Frederick Wiseman | USA | 1967 | 84 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Thurs, May 18
—>Post-screening discussion on the perception and treatment of mental health in the 50 years since the release of Titicut Follies

Enjoy a week at the movies!

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