Reviews - Page 58

Giving you our points of view on the latest docs in release and on the circuit.

‘Ice On Fire’: An Eco Doc That Gives Scientists Their Due

Ice on Fire (USA, 91 min.) Dir. Leila Connors Environmental docs can be like blockbusters in their habit of following tropes. There’s the visually stunning, dialogue-free documentation of our doom (Anthropocene), the activist manifesto (Sharkwater), or the didactic and self-aggrandizing PowerPoint presentation (An Inconvenient Truth). Leila Connors’ Ice on Fire focuses on something far too often overlooked: the scientists themselves. These unsung investigators have spent their lifetimes collecting empirical data that should be the basis for our policies, our actions, and understanding of the processes change the world we call home. Produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, the actor, like he did

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‘nîpawistamâsowin’ is 2019’s Best Canadian Doc so Far

nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (Canada, 98 min.) Dir. Tasha Hubbard Anyone wondering what is the best Canadian documentary of the spring should look no further than Tasha Hubbard’s absorbing indictment of this country’s treatment of its Indigenous people nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up. The film won the Best Canadian documentary award at Hot Docs 2019 and the Colin Low prize for Canadian documentary at the Vancouver’s prestigious DOXA festival. Hubbard’s feature doc is a sobering account of the shooting of a young Cree man, Colten Boushie, because he and his friends had trespassed on a white farmer’s land. Despite the incontestable

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Halston: Rising and Falling in Fashion

Halston (USA, 105 min.) Dir. Frédéric Tcheng They may have erased his tapes, but fashion icon Halston (born Roy Halston Frowick) receives a slick record in this new documentary that bears his name. Director Frédéric Tcheng (Dior & I) charts the dramatic rise and fall of the man who put American clothes on the map and built the biggest fashion empire the country had ever seen at the time. Halston is a brisk and engaging fashion doc that sizzles with celebrity gossip and jolts with Shakespearean tragedy. The film is a fascinating study of ambition as Halston climbs to the top and

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Designed by Women

City Dreamers (Canada, 80 min.) Dir. Joseph Hillel Audiences who stood shoulder to shoulder with Jane Jacobs in the rousing documentary Citizen Jane need to see City Dreamers. The film pays tribute to women who shape cities and improve urban environments for their fellow citizens. Director Joseph Hillel gives credit long overdue to urban architects Phyllis Lambert, Blanche Lemco van Ginkel, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, and Denise Scott Brown in this brisk portrait that offers yet another essay on the unsung women who made significant contributions in a field traditionally dominated by men. It’s depressing how often one has to write these kind of

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Review: ‘The Infiltrators’

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The Infiltrators (USA, 94 minutes) Dir. Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra Programme: Docx (International Premiere) One of the last films to screen at Hot Docs 2019, The Infiltrators is both as timely as Donald Trump’s latest tweet and unusual in form. Rivera and Ibarra’s doc focuses on the Broward Transitional Center in South Florida, a facility that holds undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers, some of them “dreamers,” people who were brought to the US by their parents. The story unfolds in 2012, but The Infiltrators is not a history lesson dependent on archival footage and present-day interviews. It builds a twisting, turning storyline about young

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Review: ‘I Told My Mum I Was Going On An R.E. Trip…’

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In an ingenious bit of programming, Hot Docs has put together three films that deal with women’s choices in completely different cinematic ways. Linda Heymann’s I Told My Mum I was Going on an RE Trip (UK, 42 min), the centrepiece of the program, shows four actors recount – one via music – the stories of abortion patients in the UK, the doctors who treat them and the counsellors who advise them. Talking to the camera and sometimes to each other, they come across as very authentic, frank and open. This is largely because they are speaking the actual words of women

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Review: ‘Haydee and the Flying Fish’

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Haydee and the Flying Fish (Chile, Brazil, 73 minutes) Dir. Pachi Bustos Programme: Persister (World Premiere) In 1975, Haydee Oberreuter was a young Chilean woman, who during the Pinochet dictatorship committed the unforgiveable sin of trying to help his victims. Like thousands of other Chileans she was arrested and tortured. Many prisoners were never heard from again. She survived, and after years of trying to lead a normal life, sought justice in the courts. Bustos’s film opens on images of a dark, turbulent sea and cuts to a shot of Haydee from behind, standing up straight and facing forward. Her

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Review: ‘Stieg Larsson: The Man who Played with Fire’

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tieg Larsson: The Man Who Played with Fire (Sweden, 99 minutes) Dir. Henrik Georgsson Programme: Special Presentations (Canadian Premiere) As Hot Docs 2019 winds down, it should be noted that the festival has screened a powerful selection of documentaries exposing the victimization of the vulnerable and oppressed in a world where democratic values are under siege. From the United States to Greece to Italy and Canada, right wing politicians and demagogues hell-bent on injuring the helpless are convincing voters to elect them into office—and the festival has shown a sharp eye in showing a strong selection of films about the

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Review: ‘Gaza’

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Gaza (Canada, 90 min.) Dir. Garry Keane, Andrew McConnell Programme: Special Presentations (Canadian Premiere) 25 miles long and seven wide, Gaza is a small territory with a huge international profile. Cut off from the outside world by strictly enforced borders, poverty-stricken, suffering explosions of horrendous violence, Gaza is frequently reported on as the embodiment of the tragic, seemingly unresolvable conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. As others have pointed out, Keane and McConnell’s doc Gaza is neither a polemic taking one side or the other, nor an on camera debate. Few of the Palestinian characters directly address the historical, moral, and political issues

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