Hot Docs Announces 15 Special Presentations Titles
By Pat Mullen
The first wave of Special Presentations are out for Hot Docs 2018! The line-up includes a number of Canadian productions and co-productions including Anote’s Ark and The Oslo Diaries fresh off their Sundance premieres, along with the world premiere of Playing Hard, which should appeal to fans of Indie Game. Other notables include the Tribeca Film Festival opener Love, Gilda about Gilda Radner, while docs on Bill Murrary, Mr. Rogers, and Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds add some celebrity to the mix.
Two of the selections, On Her Shoulders and Three Identical Strangers come to Hot Docs after winning prizes at Sundance for directing and storytelling, respectively. Read more about Three Identical Strangers and other new selections like the Mr. Rogers doc Won’t You Be My Neighbour? in our report from Sundance.
The Special Presentations titles tend to be the most high profile films at the festival attracting speakers and special guests.
D: Mohamed Siam | Lebanon, Egypt, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark | 2017 | 83 min | North American Premiere
Filmed over six turbulent years following the Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt, a feisty 14-year-old activist grows before our eyes into a commanding young woman, searching for her identity in a tinderbox of political turmoil and patriarchal systems.
D: Matthieu Rytz | Canada | 2018 | 77 min | Canadian Premiere
As rising sea levels threaten to swallow the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, its president races against the clock to secure the future of a population doomed to be among the world’s first climate change refugees.
D: Don Argott | USA | 2017 | 101 min | Canadian Premiere
Imagine Dragons frontman and devout Mormon Dan Reynolds struggles to reconcile his faith with his church’s hardening stance on homosexuality, and finds himself on a mission to combat growing suicide rates among Utah’s LGBTQ youth. Produced by Live Nation Productions.
Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man
D: Tommy Avallone | USA | 2018 | 70 min | International Premiere
“Bill Murray crashed my karaoke party.” “Bill Murray photobombed our engagement pictures.” Everyone knows someone with a “Bill Murray” story, but this inspirational and drop-dead-funny detective doc hunts down the myths and the man.
D: Cameron Yates | USA | 2018 | 83 min | Canadian Premiere
When a 10-year-old prodigy launches a restaurant in his parents’ house, his culinary creations lead to collaborations with some of the world’s best chefs and a New York Times Magazine cover. But with his career set to take off, can he handle the heat?
D: Hans Block, Moritz Riesewieck | Germany, Brazil | 2018 | 88 min | Canadian Premiere
Dive into the shadowy world of internet content moderators, where fingers hovering over the delete key judge within seconds the lines between art and pornography, journalism and propaganda, censorship and free speech—with far-reaching consequences both online and off.
D: Laura Collado, Jim Loomis | Spain, Estonia | 2017 | 82 min | Canadian Premiere
In the high-stakes world of haute cuisine, legendary Catalonian restaurant elBulli casts a long shadow—but when it closes, the head chef’s younger brother draws on his long-unrecognized creative genius to fight for his own culinary vision.
The Devil We Know
D: Stephanie Soechtig | USA | 2018 | 88 min | International Premiere
Citizen activists unravel one of the largest environmental scandals of our time when West Virginian residents discover DuPont has been dumping a toxic chemical into the water supply—one that’s now found in the blood of over 99% of the world’s population.
D: Laura Nix | USA | 2018 | 105 min | Canadian Premiere
Roused by the issues faced by their own communities, brilliant young minds from around the globe gather in Los Angeles for the world’s largest high school science fair, tackling environmental crises with ingenuity, inspiration and hope.
D: Lisa D’Apolito | USA | 2018 | 84 min | International Premiere
The vulnerable and effusive spirit of beloved comedian Gilda Radner is brought to life through newly discovered audio recordings, home movies, interviews with friends and diary entries read by performers she’s inspired, including Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph.
On Her Shoulders
D: Alexandria Bombach | USA | 2018 | 94 min | International Premiere
After surviving enslavement and genocide, a resilient young Yazidi woman is thrust onto the international stage as a spokesperson for those who’ve suffered at the hands of ISIS, where she must learn to navigate bureaucracy, fame and good intentions.
The Oslo Diaries
D: Mor Loushy, Daniel Sivan | Canada, Israel | 2018 | 98 min | Canadian Premiere
Once upon a time, Israel and Palestine almost made peace. Personal diaries and never-before-seen archival footage bring raw emotion and new insights to the secret, complex negotiations—and eventual failure—of the Oslo Accords peace process.
D: Jean-Simon Chartier | Canada, USA | 2018 | 90 min | World Premiere
A powerhouse Montreal game studio finally greenlights its next potential blockbuster, but egos and artistry collide with the bottom line as everything rides on the epic battle game—featuring samurais, knights and Vikings—hitting the jackpot.
Three Identical Strangers
D: Tim Wardle | USA | 2018 | 96 min | Canadian Premiere
In 1980 in New York, three teenagers discover by chance that they’re triplets who were separated at birth. Despite disparate upbringings, they enjoy their newfound fraternity and fame until relationships unravel under the dark mystery surrounding their adoptions.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
D: Morgan Neville | USA | 2018 | 93 min | International Premiere
Mr. Rogers created a neighbourhood in which he connected with children through honesty, directness and love, while delicately introducing complex social issues. His work continues to resonate today, but have we failed to become the neighbours he hoped for?
Hot Docs runs April 26 to May 6. Please visit Hot Docs for more information on this year’s festival.