Reviews - Page 62

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

Review: ‘Drag Kids’

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Drag Kids (Canada, 80 min.) Dir. Megan Weinberg Programme: Canadian Spectrum (World Premere) Four pre-teens, the film’s eponymous Drag Kids, delight in dressing up and going over the top on make up to achieve their ideal of 21st century glam. Then they strut their stuff in contests and venues that admit children. Stephan, Jason, and Nemis are boy drag queens; Bracken is a Vancouver girl who calls herself a “hyper queen,” meaning she wildly exaggerates her natural femininity. Montreal’s Nemis, known as Queen Lactacia, has become a star in the world of child drag. Although Weinberg’s energetic doc makes the

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Review: ‘Beauty and Decay’

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Beauty and Decay (Germany, 79 min.) Dir. Annekatrin Hendel Programme: Artscapes (International Premiere) When director Annekatrin Hendel introduced Beauty and Decay at Hot Docs, she invited audiences to experience a country that hasn’t existed for 30 years. It’s an odd statement to make, since people come and people go, but geography roughly stays the same. Borders and social currents, however, are prone to change, and the sly German filmmaker was hinting at the fact that art is born out of a specific moment in a certain milieu. This sentiment is especially true of the subjects of her film Beauty and Decay, which transports

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Review: ‘The El Duce Tapes’

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The El Duce Tapes (USA, 106 min.) Dir. Rodney Ascher, David Lawrence, Interviews directed by Ryan Sexton Programme: Nightvision (World Premiere) As The El Duce Tapes evolves into unexpected psychological, and in a way, political complexity, Eldon Hoke, shock rock drummer and frontman for his ‘90s band The Mentors, fantasizes about being an American dictator. El Duce barks that he would “build a Berlin Wall which is actually a Mexican wall, and not allow any immigrants to sneak into this country.” Hoke was also fond of ranting about unlimited pussy grabbing and Golden Showers. The doc, consisting mainly of VHS footage ex-actor Ryan Sexton

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Review: ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’

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Who Let The Dogs Out (Canada, 60min.) Dir. Brent Hodge Programme: Nightvision (Canadian Premiere) On first blush Brent Hodge’s Who Let The Dogs Out is a silly film about a silly song, tracing with great humour one man’s search for meaning from a ghastly pop hit with an infectious chorus. Along the way the film uncovers deeper veins that question the very nature of creativity itself, finding that shared experiences shape work in numerous ways, resulting in performances, all drawing from a common well, where questions of authorship and ownership become murkier the closer one gazes upon them. The film is based

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Review: ‘Advocate’

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Advocate (Canada/Israel/Switzerland, 105 min.) Dir. Rachel Leah Jones, Phillipe Bellaiche Programme: Special Presentations (Canadian Premiere) A heroic portrait of an Israeli lawyer who defends violent Palestinian offenders, Advocate is a lively exercise in documentary advocacy. The subject is Lea Tsemel, a 74-year-old political firebrand, who has dedicated her career to challenging Israel’s two-tier justice system, with different standards for Israeli citizens and Palestinians in the occupied territories. This self-described “angry and optimistic woman,” is a natural cinema verité performer, full of flashing energy, quick sardonic retorts and unselfconscious in her moral convictions. Known by opponents as “the devil’s advocate” or traitor to

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Review: ‘My Dads, My Moms, and Me’

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My Dads, My Moms, and Me (Canada, 85 min.) Dir. Julia Ivanova Programme: Focus On (World Premiere) In 2005, Canada became the first country outside of Europe to legalize same-sex marriage. This opened a legal way for many gay men to fulfill their dream of having children. In 2007’s Fatherhood Dreams, Julia Ivanova (Limit is the Sky) told the stories of gay dads Scott, Steve, Randy and Drew, on their emotional and challenging journeys to becoming fathers through adoption, co-parenting and surrogacy. Randy and Drew adopted baby Jack, Scott connected with a surrogate to have twins Ella and Mac, and

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Review: ‘The Edge of Democracy’

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The Edge of Democracy (Brazil, 112 min.) Dir. Petra Costa Programme: Special Presentations (Canadian Premiere) Petra Costa’s political documentary The Edge of Democracy is like none other, a work both intimate and grand in scope. Her incredible access to the political ruling class of her native Brazil results in a film, which truly tracks history in the making, tracing what may well be the dying throes of the country’s experiment in liberal democracy. It’s a film of sophisticated nuance and balance, showing the various factors that are contributing to Brazil’s current fractured state, resulting in the arrest and impeachment of its most

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Review: ‘River Silence’

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River Silence (Canada, 90 min.) Dir. Rogério Soares Programme: Canadian Spectrum (World Premiere) The New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis is an expert on “miserablism.” She has a keen eye for spotting this cinematic style and often identifies it in the work of emerging directors, like early Lynne Ramsay, Andrea Arnold, and pre-Birdman Alejandro González Iñárritu. Miserablism, as the term suggests, features bleakness piled upon tragedy, poverty, and heartbreak. It comes from a good place and can be especially productive in spotlighting stories from impoverished communities, but it’s pure hell to watch, yet often productive in creating empathy for stories that

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Review: ‘Always in Season’

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Always in Season (USA, 88 min.) Dir. Jacqueline Olive Programme: Special Presentations (International Premiere) Director Jacqueline Olive asks if lynching still exists in the USA in her provocative documentary Always in Season, but the film awkwardly strangles itself by having one narrative thread too many. There’s a searing true crime saga to be found somewhere within her interrogation of the case of 17-year-old Lennon Lacy, whose death was ruled a suicide when he was found hanging on a swing set near his home in Bladenboro, North Carolina. However, while making the case that Lacy’s death was a modern day lynching and a continuation

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