Festival FOMO: Week 2 - Five Films to Get You Out of the House

The World Before Your Feet

By Pat Mullen

In week two of Festival FOMO recommendations, POV picks five films that let readers escape cabin fever. From the fresh air to the sounds of the city, streaming these docs let one enjoy the perks of the outdoors while abiding by the precautions of social distancing. Moreover, the films devoted to urban life might provide a degree of comfort to city dwellers. As much as working from home allows one to escape the rat race, going to work without the hustle-bustle just isn’t the same.

Bring the festival home with these films that get you out of the house!

The World Before Your Feet

Roam the sidewalks of New York City with Matt Green. An affable New Yorker, Green ditches his day job to fulfill an odd quest: to walk all 8000 miles of sidewalks, streets, and park pathways in the Big Apple. This film directed by Jeremy Workman and executive produced by Jesse Eisenberg offers a walking tour of the world’s best and busiest city. It lets a viewer experience urban life in the moment as it captures the mundane pleasures of city living, taking in the energy of NYC simply by getting outside and exploring every nook and cranny it has to offer. Read more about The World Before Your Feet in the reviews by Marc Glassman and Tara Hakim.

Stream the film below via Kanopy:

The National Parks Project

If one’s idea of social distancing means escaping city life and retreating to the outdoors, there are plenty of docs to immerse a viewer in nature. But before going full Grizzly Man — another reminder that bears, too, like their distance — bask in the wonders of the Canadian landscape. The National Parks Project lets audiences explore the Canadian wilderness at a time when the parks are closed. This anthology series pays tribute to Canada’s national parks with a 13-film set in which directors collaborate with musicians, going to select parks and finding inspiration in their unique characters and landscapes. Featuring contributions from talents like Kevin McMahon, Zacharias Kunuk (whose segment won a Genie), John Walker, Catherine Martin, Louise Archambault, Sturla Gunnarson, and Hubert Davis with narration by Gord Downie, the doc really lets viewers stretch their legs and go the distance.

Stream The National Parks Project from Encore+:

New Homeland

Take a deep breath of fresh air and enjoy the quintessential form of Canadian escapism: camping. Two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple observes the simple pleasures of this “Canadian” way of life in New Homeland, while taking in the progressive benefits of the nation’s sponsorship program. The doc follows five young Syrian and Afghan refugees as their sponsors encourage them to experience the Canadian wilderness for the first time. New Homeland joins the boys on their trip to Camp Pathfinder in Algonquin Park and observes the challenges of slowing down and enjoying simple pleasures that one might take for granted. Kopple’s doc offers an impassioned tale for Americans old and new to remember that the USA is a nation founded upon immigration. There’s a lesson to be learned by Canada’s choice to put out a welcome mat instead of putting up a wall. Read more about New Homeland in our interview with Kopple from last year’s Doc Soup screening.

Stream New Homeland on Crave.

A Sweet & Sour Christmas

POV might be a few months late in serving up this Christmas dinner, but one suspects that social distancing encourages a few work-from-homers to take down the Yuletide decorations lingering on the walls. This CBC short doc directed by Aram Siu Wai Collier delivers a family-style dinner for shut-ins. A Sweet & Sour Christmas offers a portrait of the Ho family and their King Wok Restaurant in Kitchener Ontario. The film looks at the Hos’ double-sided menu that offers traditional Cantonese cuisine and the comfortable Chinese-Canadian food (ie: fried stuff) that Canucks gobble up. Regardless of one’s taste, however, the doc captures the shared pleasure of going out for grub during the holidays. As cultures collide and mingle through food, the doc reminds audiences that Chinese dinner, be it eat-in or take-away, offers a reliable staple for Canucks when most business are closed. Maybe this film will inspire viewers to order in?

Stream A Sweet & Sour Christmas from CBC Short Docs:

Songs and Dances of the Inanimate World: The Subway

This NFB short might be the best comfort food of all. The sounds of the subway are a pleasure one takes for granted. I misbehaved and broke social distancing rules last Friday and rode the subway, and while the empty TTC cars were eerie, they provided a welcome rush of energy. The animated experimental hybrid The Subway is a collaboration by filmmaker Pierre Hébert and musicians Robert Lepage and René Lussier that captures the noise and hustle of the daily grind. The film underscores how Hébert’s avant-garde manner with film form brings the inanimate to life. The film has the sense of watching a live performance. The surreal images of the subway—the drawn pictures look more alive than the still ones—demonstrate the various themes and commentaries that Hébert’s films observe on contemporary life, such as alienation and the uncanniness of contemporary living. Perhaps once social distancing ends, making eye contact on the subway will be less of a faux pas.

Stream The Subway from the NFB:

Songs and Dances of the Inanimate World: The Subway, Pierre Hébert, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Stay safe, everyone!