Docs Opening in Canada this Week (Sept. 30 - Oct. 6)

The Lovers and the Despot
Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures


By Pat Mullen

This week sees a number of new docs opening in theatrical release while plenty more are hitting the festival circuit. Debuting in Toronto and Ottawa this week is the wild, gripping, and thoroughly entertaining docu-thriller The Lovers and the Despot, which chronicles the ordeal of an actress and a director, both South Koreans, who were abducted by late Korean dictator Kim Jong-il to produce propaganda. This doc is almost too strange to believe, yet filmmakers Ross Adam and Robert Cannan assemble an expert panel of witnesses, spies, and film critics along with subject Choi Eun-Lee, who tells of her ordeal firsthand. A mix of re-enactments fuels this wild tale that plays like Searching for Sugarman meets Argo as the engrossing story takes audiences inside one of the world’s most secretive regimes.

One of two new Canadian docs approaching the starting line Friday is the crowd-pleasing NFB flick Gun Runners by Anjali Nayar, which hits Quebec this week and the rest of Canada the next. This inspiring film tells of two Kenyans who trade their military rifles for running shoes. As the runners transform themselves through passion and endurance, the doc motivates viewers to cheer them on in stride.

Also opening this week is the Canadian dance doc A Man of Dance. This film by Marie Brodeur profiles renowned dancer, curator, and historian Vincent Warren using a mix of interviews and archival footage ready to put a spring in your step as you leave the theatre. The doc hits cinemas after winning the prize for Best Canadian Feature at the International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA). Watch the trailer here. (Embedding disabled by request.)

Toronto filmgoers will be happy to hear that Doc Soup returns this week to the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. The first bowl of soup in the popular monthly series (sign up here) is the Danish doc Motley’s Law about Kimberley Motley and her heroic fight to overhaul the Afghan legal system and protect human rights. Director Nicole Nielsen Horanyi will be on hand for a Q&A.

On the classic front, Chris Marker’s iconic essay film Sans Soleil gives two paws up for cat people in a new digital restoration at TIFF Bell Lightbox, while the Beatles doc A Hard Day’s Night parties at the Ted Rogers ahead of the new Ron Howard film about the band that hits the theatre later this month.

New Docs Opening this Week:

Command and Control
Dir. Robert Kenner | USA | 92 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Sat, Oct. 1 – Mon, Oct. 3

Gun Runners
Dir. Anjali Nayer | Canada | 98 min.
-Montreal, QC: Cineplex Forum – Fri, Sept. 30 – Thurs, Oct. 6
-Montreal, QC: Cineplex Quartier Latin – Fri, Sept. 30 – Thurs, Oct. 6
-Quebec, QC: Cinema Cartier – Fri, Sept. 30 – Thurs, Oct. 6

Hieronymus Bosch, Touched by the Devil
Dir. Pieter van Huystee | The Netherlands | 86 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Sat, Oct. 1 – Sun, Oct. 2; Tues, Oct. 4

The Lovers and the Despot
Dir. Ross Adam, Robert Cannan | UK | 94 min.
-Ottawa, ON: ByTowne Cinema – Fri, Sept. 30 – Thurs, Oct. 6
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Fri, Sept. 30 – Thurs, Oct. 6

A Man of Dance
Dir. Marie Brodeur | Canada | 89 min.
-Montreal, QC: Cinema du Parc – Fri, Sept. 30 – Wed, Oct. 5
-Montreal, QC: Cinémathèque Québécoise – Fri, Sept. 30 – Wed, Oct. 5
-Quebec, QC: Cinema Le Clap – Fri, Sept. 30 – Thurs, Oct. 6

Motley’s Law
Dir. Nicole Nielsen Horanyi | Denmark | 85 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Wed, Oct. 5 – Thurs, Oct. 7
—>Director Nicole Nielsen Horanyi will introduce the film and take part in a post-screening Q&A.
—>New season of Doc Soup!

Doc Classics:

A Hard Day’s Night
Dir. Richard Lester | UK | 1964 | 87 min.
-Toronto, ON: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema – Fri, Sept. 30

Sans Soleil
Dir. Chris Marker | France | 1983 | 100 min.
-Toronto, ON: TIFF Bell Lightbox – Sun, Oct. 2

Enjoy a week at the movies!