Jennifer Baichwal's Into the Weeds delivers a compelling courtroom tale that raises serious environmental concerns with its portrait of Lee Johnson's case against Monsanto.Continue Reading
Golden Dawn Girls (Norway, Denmark, Finland, 92 minutes) Dir: Håvard Bustnes Programme: World Showcase. (North American Premiere) Once on a tiny Aegean island called Koufonissi, an Athenian friend said to me, “There are no ghosts in Greece. There is too much light.” She was wrong. The warm, sweet Greece that I’ve loved barely makes an appearance in the haunted world of Golden Dawn Girls. It is haunted by the financial crisis that devastated countless people and dragged on for years, haunted by the Nazi occupation of the country during World War 2, haunted by the military junta that ran
Active Measures (USA, 112 minutes) Dir: Jack Bryan Programme: Special Presentations. (World Premiere) Active Measures is so loaded with information that Jack Bryan and his producers considered telling the story in a series. Watching this film back-to-back with Our New President, another Trump and Putin horror show screening at Hot Docs 2018, could bring on fear and loathing that even Hunter Thompson might have had trouble handling. The liberal media speculates about how deep Donald Trump’s corruption goes, and the suspicious nature of his relationship with Vladimir Putin. Why is he so reluctant to censure the Russian President’s dictatorial
Grit is sure to be the great eco doc of Hot Docs 2018 and the year overall. This powerful film witnesses tragedy on an epic scale as a tsunami of toxic mud displaces over 60,000 people in Indonesia and leaves a flowing geyser of gritty goop scarring the ecosystem.
Minding the Gap was executive-produced by Hoop Dreams director Steve James and it shares James’ ability to place the individuals’ aspirations against a hardscrabble socio-economic background. Bing Liu, who demonstrates he’s as good an action cinematographer as he is a gutsy interviewer, is a talent to watch.
Andy Irons: Kissed by God (USA, 100 min.) Dir. Steve Jones, Todd Jones Program: Special Presentations (World Premiere) Catch some waves with Andy Irons: Kissed by God. This emotional roller coaster of a film breaks through sports documentary conventions and delivers a raw study of mental illness. The film mines a deep archive of Irons’ footage to chronicle the rise and tragic fall of the all-star surfer. From the moment the camera opens on his brother Bruce, a former pro surfer himself, who does everything he can to hold himself together while remembering his brother, Kissed by God asserts
The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man USA. 70 Minutes Dir. Tommy Avallone. Special Presentations (International Premiere) Bill Murray’s habit of engaging with strangers in unusual ways — joining karaoke parties, taking a cab driver for a ride or reading poetry to construction workers— has been extensively chronicled on the internet and confirmed by the star. As Murray told an audience at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Bill Murray Day in 2014, “it’s something I do consciously — when I’m conscious.” Is Murray a subject worthy of an entire documentary? Maybe just a short, facile
Playing Hard (Canada/USA, 90 min.) Dir. Jean-Simon Chartier Programme: Special Presentations (World Premiere) “Entertainment is philosophy in motion,” says gamer Jason Vandenberghe towards the end of Playing Hard. The film sees Vandenberghe realize his dream by leading the team at Montreal’s Ubisoft video game empire in creating the entertainment he always wanted as a child. Vandenberghe talks intensely about the potential for gaming to provide outsiders like himself outlets of escape with virtual communities of like-minded geeks. His excitement is palpable as the Ubisoft team readies his game from concept through completion. Even if the “philosophical” elements of his
Mr. SOUL! Dir. Sam Pollard & Melissa Haizlip USA, 102 minutes Special Presentations (International Premiere) Mr. SOUL! weaves together two stories; the development of SOUL! the television show, and the personal evolution of producer and host Ellis Haizlip. SOUL! was a nationally televised weekly variety show that aired from 1968-1973, featuring prominent and emerging Black artists including poets, classical, pop and jazz musicians, dancers and political figures. The show was broadcast on public television across a post-Civil Rights Movement America, showcasing the diversity and talent of Black artistry and providing a platform for radical Black politics. SOUL! upended the traditional
4 Years in 10 Minutes (Serbia, 62 min.) Dir. Mladen Kovacevic Programme: World Showcase (North American Premiere) For many, summiting Mount Everest is synonymous with Achievement with a capital A. It may not pose the technical mountaineering challenges that other mountains do, but its height, its history and its iconography have made it archetypal. The first to reach the top, the first to reach it from its different approaches, the first to reach it from each country, the longest to stay at the top: these are all talked about as heroic achievements. And Everest is not just a feather