Hot Docs Announces First Special Presentations Titles for 2016

Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You


By Pat Mullen

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival announced today the first wave of selections for its Special Presentations programme. Among the 15 films announced for Hot Docs is the World Premiere of Spaceship Earth, which is the new feature from Kevin McMahon. McMahon recently penned on article for The Ottawa Citizen that was a talking point within the doc community. The list includes several acclaimed Sundance titles as well, such as Weiner, Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, and Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You. The announced titles are:

ANTS ON A SHRIMP
D: Maurice Dekkers | Netherlands | 2015 | 88 min | Canadian Premiere
Foodies rejoice! When celebrity chef René Redzepi of “The World’s Best Restaurant” Noma heads to Tokyo for a five-week pop-up, he pushes his culinary creativity, exacting business model and the very boundaries of food to an outrageously delicious boiling point.

AUDRIE & DAISY
D: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk | USA | 2016 | 95 min | International Premiere
Two teenage girls suffer major trauma as victims of devastating and callously filmed sexual assaults. As their heartrending stories unfurl, the dark intersections of social media, bullying, critical misunderstandings surrounding consent and a rigid justice system reveal themselves.

GARY NUMAN: ANDROID IN LA LA LAND
D: Steve Read, Rob Alexander | UK | 2016 | 85 min | Canadian Premiere
Eighties electro-pop pioneer Gary Numan has re-emerged from the wilderness—anxiety, depression and creative block in check—with a renewed love of performing; but is his new hometown of Hollywood ready for this singular British rock star?

I AM THE BLUES
D: Daniel Cross | Canada | 2016 | 106 min | Canadian Premiere
From smoky juke joints to spirited church halls, this musical travelogue immerses us in the heart of the American South in search of wisdom and rhythm from the last of the original blues legends, including Bobby Rush, Lazy Lester and Barbara Lynn.

LO AND BEHOLD: REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD
D: Werner Herzog | USA | 2016 | 98 min | Canadian Premiere
“Does the internet dream of itself?” Werner Herzog deep dives into the murky morass that is the Internet today—from hacking to cyberbullying, robot sentience to scientific breakthroughs, no bits or bytes are left unturned in this thought-provoking, brain-tickling reverie.

MR. GAGA
D: Tomer Heymann | Israel, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany | 2015 | 100 min | Canadian Premiere
Stunning performances and rehearsal footage create a feast for the senses, immersing viewers in the creative process of Ohad Naharin, the Israeli choreographer and cultural maverick whose joyous approach has redefined the language of dance.

NORMAN LEAR: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU
D: Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing | USA | 2016 | 91 min | International Premiere
Still feisty in his 90s, Norman Lear transformed television with such groundbreaking sitcoms as All In the Family, Maude and Good Times, which brilliantly injected hot button issues of race, class and feminism into America’s living rooms.

OBIT
D: Vanessa Gould | USA | 2016 | 93 min | International Premiere
How do you distill a rich life into a mere 500 words? This engrossing encounter with New York Times obituary writers reveals the unexpected joys and existential angst of chronicling lives on the front lines of history.

THE PEACEMAKER
D: James Demo | USA | 2016 | 88 min | International Premiere
From Northern Ireland to Iraq, untrained mediator Padraig O’Malley has brokered agreements in the world’s most intractable conflicts through dogged determination and unorthodox methods, but can this former addict find salvation for himself?

SPACESHIP EARTH
D: Kevin McMahon | Canada | 2016 | 122 min | World Premiere
Illuminating McLuhan’s sentiment that we are all crew on spaceship earth, awesome images of our planet taken from space inspire prominent thinkers, from astronauts to activists, to make an urgent call to solve the problems we’ve created before it’s too late.

STRIKE A POSE
D: Ester Gould, Reijer Zwaan | Netherlands, Belgium | 2016 | 83 min | Canadian Premiere
The scene-stealing dancers from Madonna’s wildly popular concert doc Truth or Dare open up 25 years later about life after suddenly becoming queer icons at a young and, for some, unready age.

THANK YOU DEL: THE STORY OF THE DEL CLOSE MARATHON
D: Todd Bieber | USA | 2015 | 84 min | International Premiere
An inspiration to iconic improv group Upright Citizens Brigade, under-appreciated comedy giant Del Close is given an uproarious tribute as his students—from Amy Poehler to Bill Murray—recount stories of the pioneering mad genius at work.

UNLOCKING THE CAGE
D: Chris Hegedus, D A Pennebaker | USA | 2015 | 92 min | Canadian Premiere
Legendary duo Hegedus and Pennebaker focus their lens on a devoted and savvy lawyer in the midst of a ground-breaking case that seeks legal protection for chimpanzees and, ultimately, equality for all creatures under the law.

WEINER
D: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg | USA | 2015 | 100 min | International Premiere
This Sundance Award winner captures up close the epic—and utterly riveting—political meltdown of the titular disgraced ex-congressman as his surprise comeback campaign in the New York mayoralty race crashes and burns amidst new sexting allegations.

WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS
D: Beth Murphy | USA | 2016 | 89 min | World Premiere
Optimism and excitement imbue a remote Afghanistan village’s first school to accept female students—an all-girls institution founded by an inspiring local woman. As U.S. troops depart, the next generation of Afghans study their past and dream of their future.

Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8, 2016.