Hot Docs Completes 2016 Line-up; Announces 71 Canadian Docs

Gina Bon Bon performing at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in Las Vegas in The League of Exotique Dancers. Photo courtesy of Hot Docs.

By Pat Mullen

Today’s press conference for the 2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival unleashes a massive wave of titles and announcements. #HotDocs16 offers a whopping 232 films from 51 countries. 118 of these docs are World or International Premieres and, building off the female-filmmaker-friendly success of last year’s festival, an impressive 40% of the titles credit female directors.

Hot Docs adds an exciting headliner to the festival with the Opening Night selection of Rama Rau’s The League of Exotique Dancers, which marks the first Canadian opener for the fest in several years. Dancers is bound to have audiences buzzing not only for the tease of the tassel its story brings to opening night, but also for the all-female crew that helps the festival kick off the year with a high note for inclusivity. Dancers has its World Premiere on April 28th.

Other notable news on the Canadian front is the addition of a unique cash prize for Canadian films. The Canadian Documentary Promotion Award comes courtesy of Telefilm Canada and it offers $25 000 to the Canadian film that ranks best in the audience poll. Audiences may vote with their tickets following each screening. This year’s festival offers 71 Canadian films (including co-productions) in contention for the prize.

The newly-announced Canadian films screening at Hot Docs this year include Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s Angry Inuk, John Bolton’s Aim for the Roses, Tiffany Hsiung’s The Apology, Zaynê Akyol’s Gulîstan, Land of Roses, Anjali Nayer’s Gun Runners, Matt Gallagher’s How to Prepare for Prison, Nettie Wild’s Koneline: Our Land Beautiful, Min Sook Lee’s Migrant Dreams, John Walker’s Quebec, Mon Pays, and Ali Kazimi’s Random Acts of Legacy among the 18 titles in the Canadian Spectrum.

POV is excited to announce that two of the titles featured in the Class of ’15 cover story from Issue #100 are among the Canadian selections. Chelsea McMullin’s Michael Shannon Michael Shannon John appears in the edgy Nightvisions programme and Nimisha Mukerji’s Tempest Storm screens in the Artscapes programme. The Canadian features joining Tempest Storm in the Artscapes programme, which spotlights films about arts and culture, are Morgan White’s The Slippers, Matt Zimbel and Jean-François Gratton’s Zimbelism, and Pete McCormack’s Spirit Unforgettable.

Hot Docs offers two new programmes this year centered around thematic currents that run throughout the selections. One is Command and Control, which offers a mix of international films that engage with questions of power and authority, while The Pursuit of Happiness tackles the nature of fulfillment with a critical eye. Raymond Provencher’s Café Désirs and Jay Cheel’s How to Build a Time Machine represent the maple leaf on the festival’s search for happiness.

This year’s festival also acknowledges the ever-shifting definition of documentary in the age of new technology and consumption. Hot Docs offers long-form doc series with all 464 minutes of OJ Simpson: Made in America, while the DOC X programme features several interactive and shape-shifting docs such as Cyrus Sundar Singh’s ambitious live performance Brothers in the Kitchen and the CFC Media Lab’s Ascent: Eagle Island, while Matt Johnson’s Sundance-buzzed Operation Avalanche marks one of several titles at Hot Docs that festivalgoers could label as outright fiction. There’s a lot to take in—and talk about—so be sure to share your point of view with friends in the rush lines.

Previously announced Canadian titles include Hip-Hop Evolution, I am the Blues, and Spaceship Earth, as well as a retrospective on the works of Canadian filmmaker Rosie Dransfeld including 2012’s Who Cares?. Hot Docs also pulls Alanis Obomsawin’s 1984 film Incident at Restigouche out of the archive for a special slot in the Redux programme.

Overall, this year’s load of Hot Docs offerings indicates that doc fans can expect an immersive 11-day tour around the world of documentary.

Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8, 2016.
Please visit www.hotdocs.ca for the full list of selections.

(And stay tuned to POV for more Hot Docs coverage!)