Hot Docs Adds 17 Special Presentation Titles

The Game Changers

By Pat Mullen

Hot Docs added 17 titles to its Special Presentations program this morning and this year’s festival is looking mighty strong! The festival added some big names to the list including Oscar winner Louie Psihoyos (The Cove) with The Game Changers, which looks at the impact of plant-based diets on star athletes, and Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone?) with her timely doc The Fourth Estate about the legacy of The New York Times and the role of the press in the era of #FakeNews. Also on the list is the ever-prolific Sam Pollard (Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, Two Trains Runnin’) with Mr. Soul! about the first all-Black variety show broadcast nationally on PBS and its openly gay host. Other arts and culture docs include MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. about singer M.I.A. and McQueen about fashion legend Alexander McQueen.

Four world premieres were announced as part of the line-up. They include Jack Bryan’s Active Measures, which scores interviews with Hillary Clinton and John McCain while exploring the results and alleged corruption of the 2016 US presidential election, and Steve Jones and Todd Jones’ Andy Irons: Kissed by God about surfer Andy Irons.

These films join 15 Special Presentations titles announced previously. The new titles are:

Active Measures
D: Jack Bryan | P: Laura Dubois, Marley Clements | USA | 2018 | 112 min | World Premiere
Dive deep into one of the most deft espionage operations in history. Featuring exclusive interviews with Hillary Clinton, John McCain and more, this explosive film uncovers Trump-Putin ties dating back to the ’70s and Soviet-style information warfare tactics used to affect the 2016 US presidential election.

Alt-Right: Age of Rage
D: Adam Bhala Lough | P: Michael Karbelnikoff, Alex Needles | 2018 | USA | 104 min | Canadian Premiere
Trigger warning: everything. Set against the horrific violence of the 2017 Charlottesville riots, alt-right leader Richard Spencer squares off against antifa activist Daryle Lamont Jenkins in this provocative look inside the two movements boiling over in America.

Andy Irons: Kissed by God
D: Steve Jones, Todd Jones | P: Enich Harris | 2018 | USA | 100 min | World Premiere
Three-time world surfing champion Andy Irons chased perfect pipe on the waves but dark demons on shore. Breathtaking cinematography captures the gorgeously wild star, but as mental illness troubles the waters, a heartbreaking tragedy unfolds.

Behind the Curve
D: Daniel J. Clark | P: Caroline Clark, Nick Andert, Daniel J. Clark | 2018 | USA | 96 min | World Premiere
A rapidly rising number of people are convinced that the Earth is flat. Follow the leaders behind this conspiracy theory du jour as they rally to spread their message, challenge scientific proofs and flatten the globe once and for all.

Blue Wall
D: Richard Rowley | P: Jamie Kalven, Jacqueline Soohen | 2018 | USA | 76 min | World Premiere
Oscar-nominated director Richard Rowley offers a searing examination of the police killing of Laquan McDonald, tracing the conspiracy of silence that extended up to the Chicago mayor’s office and revealing the journalists, activists and lawyers whose perseverance exposed the truth.

The Fourth Estate
D: Liz Garbus | P: Liz Garbus, Jenny Carchman, Justin Wilkes | 2018 | USA | International Premiere
Granted unprecedented access and interviews with editors and reporters on the front lines, Emmy®-winning and Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus’ THE FOURTH ESTATE follows the inner workings of The New York Times, revealing the challenges, triumphs and pitfalls of covering a president who has declared war on the free press.

The Game Changers
D: Louie Psihoyos | P: Joseph Pace, James Wilks | 2018 | USA, Canada | 88 min | Canadian Premiere
Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyos’s (The Cove) explosive doc examines elite athletes’ dramatically improved strength and performance when they switch from animal- to plant-based diets, and upends antiquated notions of masculinity and virility along the way.

D: Steve Loveridge | P: Lori Cheatle, Andrew Goldman, Paul Mezey | 2018 | USA | 97 min | Canadian Premiere
Two decades’ worth of personal footage capture the complex evolution of M.I.A., the musician and social justice activist whose outspoken rhymes tore up the charts, stoked political fires and captivated fans and critics worldwide.

D: Ian Bonhôte, Peter Ettedgui (co-director) | P: Ian Bonhôte, Andee Ryder, Nick Taussig, Paul Van Carter | 2018 | USA | 111 min | International Premiere
An intimate account of the life, career and artistry of legendary couturier, fashion maverick and creative genius Alexander McQueen, vividly brought to life via rare archival footage and revealing interviews with his inner circle.

Mercury 13
D: David Sington, Heather Walsh | P: David Sington, Heather Walsh, Brendan Byrne, Trevor Birney, Geraldine Creed | 2018 | Ireland | 80 min | International Premiere
The pioneers enrolled in NASA’s first female astronaut training program finally open up about their top-secret testing, which pitted them against the established boys’ club of American astronauts of the 1950s.

More Human Than Human
D: Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting | P: Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting, Bruno Felix, Bart Van Langendonck | 2018 | Netherlands, USA, Belgium | 79 min | International Premiere
With artificial intelligence potentially on track to surpass human capabilities within the next two decades, one filmmaker tests his own job security by building a robot to replace himself and discovers the truth of what’s really at stake.

Mr. Soul!
D: Sam Pollard, Melissa Haizlip | P: Doug Blush, Melissa Haizlip | 2018 | USA | 102 min | International Premiere
Go backstage with the first all-Black variety show broadcast nationally on PBS, and meet its openly gay host, who was instrumental in ushering radical Black talent into American living rooms in the wake of the civil rights movement.

The Night of All Nights
D: Yasemin Şamdereli | P: Anja-Karina Richter, Arne Birkenstock, Christian Becker | 2018 | Germany | 96 min | International Premiere
In frank and funny interviews, four couples from across the world, united under vastly different circumstances but each together for more than 50 years, reflect on their relationships and share their secrets for long-lasting love—for better or for worse.

Our New President
D: Maxim Pozdorovkin | P: Maxim Pozdorovkin, Joe Bender, Charlotte Cook | 2018 | USA | 77 min | Canadian Premiere
In a horrifying and hilarious collage, the story of Donald Trump’s path to the presidency is told entirely through Russian propaganda, laying bare an empire of fake news and the cynical tactics of information warfare.

Pick of the Litter
D: Dana Nachman, Don Hardy | P: Dana Nachman, Don Hardy | 2018 | USA | 79 min | International Premiere
A litter of newborn Labrador puppies begins “basic training” to become service dogs for the blind—but who will make the cut? Their successes and failures are shared equally with the devoted caretakers who guide them on this rigorous two-year journey.

Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie
D: Andrea Blaugrund Nevins | P: Cristan Crocker | 2018 | USA | 90 min | International Premiere
With sales at a historic low and women’s rights campaigns at fever pitch, Barbie is getting a radical makeover. Gloria Steinem, Roxane Gay, Mattel designers and others renegotiate the iconic doll’s place in a world that both loves and loves to hate her.

United Skates
D: Dyana Winkler, Tina Brown | P: Tina Brown, Dyana Winkler | 2018 | USA | 86 min | International Premiere
When America’s last roller rinks are threatened with closure, thousands pull together to save and celebrate the vibrant underground subculture that has provided a safe space for the Black community since before the civil rights movement.

Hot Docs runs April 26 to May 6.