Where Are They Now? Epilogues Series Revisits Hot Docs Subjects

Anvil! The Story of Anvil is among Hot Docs hits screening as part of the Epilogues series

By Pat Mullen

What happens to a documentary subject when the movie wraps and the credits roll? Hot Docs brings back some of the most popular films from previous editions of the festival and checks in with subjects to explore the lives they’ve had after connecting with audiences. The Epilogues Series runs April 9 to 21 and invites audiences to revisit films and get status updates from doc subjects in post-screening events.

The series kicks off with a retro screening of Daniel Cross’s 2001 film S.P.I.T. Squeegee Punks in Traffic, which saw life on the streets through the eyes of Eric “Roach” Denis, who was given a camera by Cross and directed to film his story from his own perspective. As Ezra Winton wrote in Unsettling the Nation*, S.P.I.T. “shifted the representational power on to the disenfranchised and heralded what would become a decades-long project by Montreal’s EyeSteelFilm to put visual culture tools and technology in the hands of those who were more often the subjects of others’ stories.” Roach turned his life around after making S.P.I.T. and went on to become a director in his own right and made autobiographical docs with Cross’s EyesSteelFilm such as RoachTrip and Punk the Vote. He also ran as an independent in the 2006 federal election and scored 101 votes. Read more about S.P.I.T.: Squeegee Punks in Traffic in the POV interview with Cross and Mila Aung-Thwin.

While Roach will join for a Skype Q&A, Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner will attend the 10th anniversary screening of Anvil! The Story of Anvil. Sacha Gervasi’s documentary about the cult metal band was a Hot Docs success story after it opened the 2008 festival and went on to become one of the year’s most acclaimed documentaries, netting critics’ prizes galore including an Independent Spirit Award and a Directors Guild of America nomination. This tale of a true life Spinal Tap helped the band reach a wider audience and new level of appreciation. Gervasi has since directed the 2012 biopic Hitchcock starring Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins, while Anvil released its 17th studio album Pounding the Pavement earlier this year. Read more about Anvil! in Singing the Praises of the Unsung.

Another 2008 Hot Docs hit and winner of the festival’s International Feature Award that year plays in the Epilogues series as The English Surgeon returns to provide an update on renowned British neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. Marsh has mostly retired from surgery and has written two acclaimed books published in 2014 and 2017. The good doctor joins director Geoffrey Smith for a Skype Q&A April 21. Read more about Marsh in this 2017 interview with The Guardian.

The 2012 Hot Docs hit David & Me has told the incredible story of David McCallum, who served over 30 years in prison for a wrongful conviction. McCallum was still an inmate when the doc debuted at the festival, but as audiences watched this Toronto production by directors Ray Klonsky and Marc Lemay over the years, they witnessed documentary’s power to enact tangible change. McCallum’s murder conviction was overturned in 2014 due in part by the campaign by the film and thanks to the final wishes of the late Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who fought against wrongful convictions following his own ordeal serving time for a murder he didn’t commit. How has McCallum rebuilt his life in the four years since going free? Audiences got a taste with a recut David & Me in 2015 that provided a step towards closure with a happy ending, but find out what David is up to when he joins audiences via Skype on April 18. Read more about David & Me in The Class of ’15.

Finally, Audiences recently got a glimpse into the insular world of the Hasidic community in Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing’s provocative One of Us, but 16 years before the Netflix doc offered its eye-opening glimpse, Sandi Simcha DuBowski told the story of Michelle Miller in Trembling Before G-d. Miller believed she was alone as a closeted lesbian in the Hasidic community and the doc witnessed her brave struggle with faith and sexuality when, like Etty in One of Us, she was ostracised by her family and community for following her heart. Miller and Dubowski join Hot Docs via Skype on April 17.

Get more info on the Epilogues Series here.