Hot Docs to Open with Tasha Hubbard’s ‘nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up’
By Pat Mullen
Tasha Hubbard’s nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up will open this year’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. Hubbard’s new film, which world premieres at the fest, examines the tragic death of Coulten Boushie, a young Cree man who was murdered on a settler farm in rural Saskatchewan in 2016. The powerful film sees Hubbard reflect on the longevity of systemic racism and violence against Indigenous people in Canada. The film is a co-pro of Downstream Documentary Productions and The National Film Board of Canada, produced in association with CBC DOCS and APTN.
nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up is one of several NFB films at this year’s festival and helps make a strong showing for the Board on its 80th anniversary. Other new films from the NFB at Hot Docs include Rogério Soares’ River Silence, Nance Ackerman, Ariella Pahlke and Teresa MacInnes’s Conviction, Baljit Sangra’s Because We Are Girls, Jon Walker’s previously announced Assholes: A Theory, and a revamp of the Studio D era Five Feminist Minutes by Deanne Foley, Mary Walsh, Joyce Wong, Alexandra Lazarowich, and Ann Marie Fleming, whose New Shoes was among the original minutes and will receive a retro screening at the fest.
Other Canadian films announced today include The World or Nothing, which marks the doc debut of Toronto’s queen of DIY indie filmmaking, Ingrid Veninger. The film is an offbeat portrait of identical twin brothers, who are ex-pat Cubans making a splash as dancers/YouTubers in Barcelona. Other Canucks include Larry Weinstein, who playfully examines the world of persuasive political messaging in Propaganda: The Art of Selling Lies, while Jason DaSilva offers a follow-up to his Hot Docs 2013 winner for Best Canadian Feature When I Walk with When We Walk. Matt Gallagher and Cornelia Principe examine a landmark court case in Prey, while Rama Rau returns to the fest with Daughter Tree after opening Hot Docs 2016 with The League of Exotique Dancers. Also returning is The Prison in Twelve Landscapes director Brett Story with The Hottest August, St-Henri, the 26th of August director Shannon Walsh with the eco doc Illusions of Control, and Shiners director Stacey Tenenbaum with the eclectic pipe organ saga Pipe Dreams. Making a Hot Docs debut on the other side of the programme is programmer Aisha Jamal with the personal doc A Kandahar Away, which studies her family’s journey from Kandahar, Afghanistan to Kandahar, Saskatchewan, while the fest receives other international stories through Canadian lenses in Emily Gan’s Cave Birds and Pedro Ruiz’s Havana from on High.
On the Canadian shorts front, docs announced today include, but are not limited to, Samuel Matteau, Yannick Nolin, and Guillaume Fournie’s crawfish fest film Acadiana, which will have audiences longing for the days when Southern Accent was just a few steps away from Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Candy Fox’s ahkâmêyimo nitânis / Keep Going My Daughter is an Indigenous ode to the next generation, while Andrew Moir’s celebration of queer love Take Me to the Prom screens with the world premiere of Julia Ivanova’s new film, My Dads, My Moms, and Me. Ivanova is this year’s Focus On spotlight and the retrospective of her work will include the long overdue Ontario premiere of her 2016 film Limit is the Sky.
Three Canadian films will play in this year’s Scotiabank Big Ideas series, which offers extended conversations with some of the festival’s hottest docs. Folk icon Gordon Lightfoot will take the stage with the world premiere of Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind, while hockey hero Willie O’Ree takes the spotlight with Willie to fuel a conversation about inclusivity in sports. Director Phyllis Ellis will present Toxic Beauty in the Big Ideas series with whistleblower Deane Berg, Dr. Daniel Cramer of the Harvard Cancer Center and Dr. Ami Zota of George Washington University to discuss the harmful effects of cosmetics. International films in the Scotiabank Big Ideas series also include director Adam Bolt and biochemist Jennifer Doudna in conversation for Human Nature, while the must-see event of the series might be a conversation with artist, activist and director Ai Weiwei, who is on hand with his film The Rest. Ai will also join for an additional conversation for audiences who can’t make it to the Big Ideas screening.
Overall, Hot Docs will feature 234 films and 18 interdisciplinary projects from 56 countries in 15 programs at this year’s festival. 54% of the line-up is directed by women.
Visit HotDocs.ca for the complete line-up and schedule. Hot Docs runs April 25 to May 5.