Hot Docs Brings ‘The Heat’ as Women Rule 2018 Line-up

Maya Gallus’s The Heat will open Hot Docs 2018
Courtesy of Hot Docs

By Pat Mullen

Hot Docs brings The Heat for its 25th anniversary! Women ruled the press conference announcing the selections for Hot Docs’s 2018. This year’s festival opens with The Heat: A Kitchen ®evolution, which is the latest film from director Maya Gallus. Gallus was last year’s Focus On honouree at Hot Docs and The Heat marks the seventh film that Gallus has premiered at the festival.

The Heat takes audiences inside the kitchens of high caliber restaurants where women are taking back the title of Master Chef. It’s a timely selection with workplace harassment and inequality finally drawing awareness and re-shaping the film industry. Gallus took the stage at this morning’s press conference where she expressed her pride at kicking off the festival’s silver anniversary with a doc “about powerful women transforming an industry and contributing to what has become a global conversation.”

Gallus’s film is an appropriate selection for this year’s festival, particularly since Hot Docs has achieved true gender parity with 50% of the 262 films and interdisciplinary works directed by women, along with an all-female directed series ‘The Silence Breakers’ about women who speak truth to power. The Heat also makes it three years in a row that Hot Docs has opened the festival with a film by a female director.

Hot Docs welcomed another female force in the documentary world as two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple took the stage as this year’s Outstanding Achievement Award recipient. “26 years ago, we didn’t have anything that saluted documentary, so for me, this is wonderful. Hot Docs has put together an international marketplace,” Kopple said to the crowd. “You guys have done it all.”

Kopple added that she felt particularly humbled to be the focus of the Outstanding Achievement Retrospective after her mentor, the late Albert Maysles, received the inaugural spotlight in 1999. “I feel glad to be walking in his footsteps,” she exclaimed. Kopple will engage audiences in a special conversation on May 3rd at the festival and Hot Docs will screen some of her most acclaimed films including Miss Sharon Jones! the Dixie Chicks/free speech doc Shut Up and Sing, the Mariel Hemingway portrait Running from Crazy, and her Oscar-winning landmark Harlan County USA.

On the Canadian front, Hot Docs will feature 56 Canadian productions and co-productions. The highlights include Shasha Nakhai’s Take Light, a provocative study of the energy crisis in Nigeria; Grant Baldwin’s breathtakingly cinematic This Mountain Life; Michael Sparaga’s United We Fan, about TV “super-fans” who fight to keep their favourite shows on the air; Laura Marie Wayne’s Love, Scott, a heartbreaking film about a young gay musician’s brave recovery after a vicious attacked left him paralyzed; Samara Chadwick’s 1999, a personal return to the wave of suicides at École Mathieu-Martin in the titular year; Michael Del Monte’s Transformer, about bodybuilder Matt “Kroc” Kroczaleski’s male to female transition; and three stories of war arise in the NFB films My War by Julien Fréchette and First Stripes by Jean-François Caissy and the NFB co-pro What Walaa Wants by Christy Garland.

What Walaa Wants – (Excerpt #1 – Walaa in trouble again) from NFB/marketing on Vimeo.

Mathieu Rytz’s Anote’s Ark represents Canadian content in this year’s Scotiabank Big Ideas series. Rytz and Kiribati Anote Tong, former president of the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, will take the stage for one of the series’ extended conversations. Other highlights in the series include Will You Be My Neighbour?, the acclaimed Mr. Rogers doc from Oscar winning 20 Feet From Stardom director Morgan Neville. Neville will participate in a post-screening Q&A with Dr. Junlei Li, director of the Fred Rogers Centre.

Other highlights include a 25th anniversary of Alanis Obomsawin’s Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance and a Focus On spotlight on the career of John Walker.

Hot Docs runs April 26 to May 6. Get the full line-up here.
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