Reviews - Page 64

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

Review: ‘The Pickup Game’

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The Pickup Game (UK/Canada, 96 min.) Dir.: Barnaby O’Connor, Matthew O’Connor Programme: Making Believe (World Premiere) The pickup industry generates over a billion dollars a year teaching men how to “seduce” women with manipulation tactics. But despite The Pickup Game being intended as an exposé on the industry and its culture, little is revealed, or analyzed. Well known for its misogyny, the industry in The Pickup Game is infuriatingly depicted in a rather apolitical manner. The film dwells on the pickup artists and their opinions with little pushback. These men (and one woman) are given a space to speak their opinions on women, dating,

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Review: ‘Hope Frozen’

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Hope Frozen (Thailand, 75 min.) Dir. Pailin Wedel Programme: International Spectrum (World Premiere) The death of a child must be an incredibly difficult event for a parent. Letting go of a life one brought into the world seems incredibly cruel and unfair for a parent to have to do. For parents Sahatorn and Nareerat Naovaratpong, however, letting go of their daughter is something they refuse to do. Hope Frozen chronicles the controversial story of a Thai family that puts love on the line and faith in science. The doc recounts the Naovaratpongs’ story with remarkable access, intimacy, and objectivity as it

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Review: ‘Buddy’

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Buddy (Netherlands, 86 min.) Dir. Heddy Honigmann Programme: Special Presentations You can hardly go wrong with any decent documentary about dogs. Add the wisdom and technique of veteran Peru-born, Dutch filmmaker Heddy Honigmann and you have an unbeatable recipe for a combination of an artful and crowd-pleasing film. Honigmann, the winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award at 2007’s Hot Docs Festival, as well as the subject of numerous international retrospectives, excels at exploring emotional intimacy on varied subjects from war widows, erotic poetry, subway musicians and cemeteries. In Buddy, she toggles between the experiences of a half-dozen people and their service

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Review: ‘Prophecy’

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Prophecy (UK, 82 min.) Dir. Charlie Paul Programme: Artscapes (International Premiere Take a gander at Peter Howson’s exquisite painting “Prophecy,” for this might be the only time you will see it. The grand canvas of the big screen provides a wonderfully unique view of the making of a masterpiece as director Charlie Paul observes the Scottish artist in his element. The doc chronicles the creation of Howson’s “Prophecy” from conception through completion. It offers an immersive glimpse into the painstaking commitment to the artistic process and an intimate insight into the man behind a great work of art. Paul’s doc

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Review: ‘On the Inside of a Military Dictatorship’

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On the Inside of a Military Dictatorship (Denmark/France, 93 min.) Dir. Karen Stokkendal Poulsen Programme: International Spectrum (International Premiere) Aung San Suu Kyi, once an icon for freedom and democracy, has fallen from grace. The political prisoner turned Myanmar’s civil leader has been stripped of her honorary Canadian citizenship and her Freedom of Paris Award for role in, and failure to act on, gross human rights violations that include the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people. However, despite receiving a failing grade from most of the international community, Suu Kyi comes off fairly well in On the Inside of a Military

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Review: ‘Cavebirds’

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Cavebirds (Canada, 81 minute.) Dir Emily Gan Programme: Canadian Spectrum (World Premiere) Montreal-based Emily Gan’s debut feature is a first-person essay film around an unusual subject: bird spit. To be more specific, the saliva of small swallow-like birds, which in hardened form is the prized ingredient in the Chinese traditional delicacy of bird’s nest soup. Gan’s film focuses on her father, Hok-Wah (Howard) a soft-spoken gentle man who has suffered from a lifelong weak heart. In his retirement, he has a quixotic plan to reconnect to his family’s past and provide for his children and their children: He moves back

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Review: ‘Prey’

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Prey (Canada, 85 min) Dir. Matt Gallagher Programme: Canadian Spectrum (World Premiere) The subject of Prey is a civil lawsuit against the Basilian Fathers of Toronto, which took place last year, over their part in concealing and abetting William Hodgson “Hod” Marshall, a Catholic priest, high school teacher and serial sexual abuser, who died in 2014 at the age of 92. What distinguished the case was that the defendant was seeking punitive damages, for the first time in Canada, from a Church institution. The crux of the matter was that Marshall’s crimes had been reported a half-dozen times over the years, yet

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Review: ‘Beloved’

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Hot Docs 2019 [4369] [tara-hakim] Hakim, Tara _Beloved_ is a feast for the eyes and heart. {image_1} Beloved (Iran, 54 min.) Dir. Yaser Talebi Programme: World Showcase (Canadian Premiere) Beautifully filmed with an unlikely subject, Beloved is a feast for the eyes and heart. Directed and filmed by Yaser Talebi, the film follows Firouzrh Khordishi, an eighty-two-year-old herder in the northern mountains of Iran, across the seasons as she tells the story of her life. When she was just 14, her mother arranged for her to be married to a herder who was much older than her and with whom she had

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Review: ‘Our Dance of Revolution’

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Our Dance of Revolution (Canada, 102 min.) Dir. Phillip Pike Programme: Canadian Spectrum (World Premier) At last, there is a documentary that does justice to the influential LGBTQ+ activists of colour who helped shape Toronto’s political landscape. Phillip Pike has gathered archival footage and some of the community’s best minds and most passionate advocates to tell the stories of how black activists lived, partied and most important, organized. The film opens with Black Lives Matter (BLM), led by Black queer women, disrupting the Pride Parade in 2016 via a 30-minute sit-in. Pike’s premise is that BLM did not come out of nowhere but

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Review: ‘Conviction’

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Conviction (Canada, 78 minutes) Dir. Nance Ackerman, Ariella Pahlke, Teresa MacInnes Programme: Canadian Spectrum A film about Canadian women prisoners made over a couple of years, Conviction is a touchingly personal view of inmate life, if somewhat scattered in its focus. The project involves three filmmakers who, we are told in an early title card, went into two Nova Scotia women’s prisons with art supplies, a musical therapist and filmmaking tools with the intent “to understand why” women are the fastest-growing population of prisoners worldwide. The question, once posed, is then mysteriously dropped. Instead, we see women prisoners singing, writing haikus, performing

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