Hot Docs Welcomes Guests and 208 Directors

John Cleese (Assholes: A Theory) is among the guests announced for this yer’s Hot Docs film festival


By Pat Mullen

Hot Docs is rolling out the red carpets again this year! The festival released the guest list for its 2019 edition, featuring a roster of guest subjects, along with the news that 208 film directors will attend to present their films and engage in audience Q&As. Highlights from today’s guest list include actor and author John Cleese, best known for his work in the Monty Python circus and the hit comedy A Fish Called Wanda. Cleese appears as one of the subjects in John Walker’s Assholes: A Theory. Cleese will be joined for the Assholes premiere by fellow subjects Aaron James, Suji Gelerman, Amiée Morrison, Sherry Lee Benson-Podolchuk, and Robert Hockett.

Other notable names on the list include Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer from the Sundance hit Ask Dr. Ruth; hilarious humanitarian Jack Sim from Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man; Erin Davis, daughter of jazz legend Miles Davis; and Kevin Hearn of the Barenaked Ladies and Indigenous artist Mark Anthony Jacobson from There Are No Fakes. The guest join previously announced celebs including folk icon Gordon Lightfoot, artist/activist Ai Weiwei, and hockey trailblazer Willie O’Ree, who were tapped last month for the Scotiabank Big Ideas series.

The guest list released from Hot Docs is as follows:

Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer from Ask Dr. Ruth (D: Ryan White | USA | 2019 | 100 min) – World-renowned sex therapist, media personality and author.

Aaron James, John Cleese, Suji Gelerman, Amiée Morrison, Sherry Lee Benson-Podolchuk and Robert Hockett from Assholes: A Theory (D: John Walker | Canada | 2019 | 81 min)– Aaron James is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Assholes: A Theory. Lively commentary is provided throughout the film by British actor, comedian and screenwriter John Cleese, who will be in attendance for the second screening on May 1. Suji is a psychotherapist and Amiée is a professor in the University of Waterloo’s Literature and Digital Humanities department—both provide comments on the psychology and behavior of assholes. Sherry Lee is a former RCMP officer who wrote Women Not Wanted, an exposé of RCMP workplace bullying; she is now she’s now a consultant and keynote speaker on workplace conflict, bullying and harassment. Robert is interviewed in the film—he is a law professor at Cornell University who consulted for both Occupy Wall Street and the Federal Reserve in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008.

Kim Pate and Bianca Mercer from Conviction (D: Ariella Pahlke, Nance Ackerman, Teresa MacInnes | Canada | 2019 | 78 min) – Kim Pate is a Canadian senator and past executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies who’s spent 30 years advocating for women inside prisons. Bianca Mercer is an advocate and film subject who collaborated with filmmakers to tell her story of being incarcerated in a Nova Scotia prison while six months pregnant.

Stacey Sundberg, Silvia Ortiz, Óscar Sánchez Viesca, and Dawn Marie Paley from Illusions of Control (D: Shannon Walsh | Canada | 2019 | 87 min) – A film about resilience in in the wake of devastating personal and social crises, Stacey is Yellowknives Dene First Nation, and the director of environmental non-profit Ecology North who builds on Indigenous knowledge to confront toxic legacies in Yellowknife. Silvia and Óscar are parents who have been searching for their missing daughter in the deserts of Northern Mexico for 14 years. Dawn is the author of the book Drug War Capitalism, that follows the drug war story throughout Latin America to US boardrooms and political offices.

Stephan, Laddy GaGa; Nemis, Queen Lactatia; Jason, Suzan Bee Anthony; Bracken Gvasalia from Drag Kids (D: Megan Wennberg | Canada | 2019 | 80 min) – Preteenagers who unite over their love of the art of drag to perform in Montreal’s Pride.

Richard McKay from Killing Patient Zero (D: Laurie Lynd | Canada | 2019 | 100 min) – Richard McKay is the author of Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic, and is a professor in the department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge.

Máxima Acuña and Mirtha Vasquez from Maxima (D: Claudia Sparrow | USA | 2018 | 88 min) – Máxima Acuña is a Peruvian subsistence farmer, environmentalist and winner of the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, known for her fight to resist a mining company; Mirtha Vasquez Maxima’s lawyer who has taken on her case against Newmont Mining.

Erin Davis and Vince Wilburn from Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (D: Stanley Nelson | USA, UK | 2019 | 113 min) – Erin is Miles Davis’ son and Vince is his nephew.

Jack Sim from Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man (D: Lily Zepeda | USA | 2019 | 87 min) – Jack, aka Mr. Toilet, is the founder of the World Toilet Organization and World Toilet College (WTC) who’s made it his mission to raise the standards of public toilets around the world.

Alcee Chriss III, Yuan Shen, Nick Capozzoli, Thomas Gaynor from Pipe Dreams (D: Stacey Tenenbaum | Canada | 2018 | 78 min) – Young organists from around the world who competed in Montreal’s prestigious Canadian International Organ Competition.

Rod Macleod, Patrick McMahon and Rob Talach from Prey (D: Matt Gallagher | Canada | 2019 | 85 min) – Rod is the plaintiff in a sexual abuse case against the Catholic Basilian Order of Priests; Rob is his lawyer. Patrick is a witness at the trial who is a survivor of clergy sexual abuse.

Leilani Farha from Push (D: Fredrik Gertten | Sweden | 2019 | 92 min) – A film about the affordable housing crisis, Leilani is the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing and has a background advocating for the homeless.

Freddy McConnell from Seahorse (D: Jeanie Finlay | UK | 2019 | 90 min) – A young, trans-man who becomes pregnant after yearning to be a father.

Kevin Hearn, Dallas Thompson and Mark Anthony Jacobson from There Are No Fakes (D: Jamie Kastner | Canada | 2019 | 114 min) – Kevin is a bandmember of the Canadian rock group Barenaked Ladies who contests the authenticity of an artwork he’s purchased that was attributed to Indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau; he’s also the composer for the film. Dallas is a witness in the case who reveals how he helped a forgery ring sell fake paintings. Mark is a First Nations painter originally from northwestern Ontario who knew Morrisseau.

Hot Docs runs April 25 to May 5.