Reviews - Page 88

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

Review: ‘Anote’s Ark’

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Anote’s Ark (Canada, 77 min.) Dir. Matthieu Rytz Program: Special Presentations (Canadian Premiere)   “Climate change is the greatest moral challenge for humanity,” proclaims Anote Tong in Anote’s Ark. “We haven’t risen to the challenge.” Call Anote Tong the eco hero of Hot Docs 2018. The former President of the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati is a strong advocate for global action on climate change. Action is a matter of survival for Kiribati. The nation of 33 low-lying islands and atolls is expected to be wiped off the face of the Earth by the century’s end due to rising sea

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Review: ‘Bathtubs Over Broadway’

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Bathtubs Over Broadway (USA, 87 min.) Dir. Dava Whisenant Programme: Artscapes (International Premiere)   Forget Bye Bye Birdie. Forget Cats. Forget An American in Paris, Rent, Fiddler on the Roof, Phantom of the Opera, Cabaret, and especially Mamma Mia. The truly American art form is not the Broadway show but the industrial musical. This obscure corner of show business receives a laugh-out loud appreciation from director Dava Whisenant in Bathtubs Over Broadway. Audiences having no familiarity with the wacky world of industrial musicals are in for a treat! Get ready to laugh, sing, cheer, and be dazzled by the unsung

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Review: ‘Love, Scott’

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Love, Scott (Canada, 76 minutes) Dir: Laura Marie Wayne Programme: Canadian Spectrum (North American Premiere)   In 2013, Scott Jones was stabbed outside a bar in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Though he survived, Scott was paralyzed from the waist down. The attack, which many believe to be motivated by homophobia, was never charged as a hate crime. In Love, Scott, director Laura Marie Wayne creates an intimate portrait of her close friend as he discusses the aftermath of this traumatic event. While Love, Scott isn’t an autobiographical doc, director Laura Marie Wayne has created a near stream-of-consciousness depiction of his

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Review: ‘Snowbirds’ and ‘Eviction Notice’

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Snowbirds (Canada, 47 min.) Dir. Joannie Lafrenière Programme: Canadian Spectrum (Toronto Premiere)   Canada geese are famous for their migration patterns. The big honking birds fly south in groups that mark the sky in flapping V formations. They depart every fall and return every spring, fully aware that Canada is the land they call home. Joannie Lafrenière offers a nature documentary of sorts on the other great Canadian migration, the one that occurs each winter. These animals, known colloquially as “snowbirds,” are Canada’s other resident geese: retirees. Best known for 4 pm dinners, knee high sweat socks, and bad tans,

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Review: ‘The Night of All Nights’

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The Night of All Nights (Germany, 96 minutes) Dir: Yasemin Samdereli Programme: Special Presentations. (International Premier)   Four couples around the world open up about their relationships, which have all lasted, remarkably, longer than fifty years. In When Harry Met Sally -style interviews, each pair reflects on life before and beyond the moments that brought them together, and how they’ve grown as partners. Yasemin Samdereli’s The Night of All Nights manages to do something delightful: it becomes a rom-com documentary. Norman and Bill are a gay American couple who, despite their devotion, have only recently been allowed to get married.

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Review: ‘On Her Shoulders’

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On Her Shoulders (USA, 94 min.) Dir. Alexandria Bombach Programme: Special Presentations (International Premiere)   Films like On Her Shoulders are awkward to review. When a documentary tackles a subject that is still making headlines, the breadth and depth of its inquiry is inevitably limited. The doc has no meat beyond the portrait of its subject and the cause for which she is “the face.” The subject deserves one’s attention, so disapproval of the film feels like dismissal of her story. A circular dance between cynicism and forgiveness, however, invites one to recognize that a film like On Her Shoulders

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Review: ‘I’m Leaving Now (Ya Ma Voy)’

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’m Leaving Now / Ya Me Voy (USA/Mexico, 74 minutes) Dir: Lindsey Cordero, Armando Croda Programme: Made in Mexico. (World Premiere)   A camera attached to a cart full of recyclables is pulled through New York at dawn. In the dim light, with scenes crowded by used bottles and cans, we watch as the city is made viscerally uncomfortable. The bottles rattle over the uneven ground and crash over steps, and the smooth sidewalks and welcoming streets of the metropolis are given new meaning in this context. This is how Ya Me Voy opens, with the after-hours ritual performed by

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Review: ‘This is Congo’

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This is Congo (USA, 92 min.) Dir. Daniel McCabe   This is Congo will break your heart into pieces. The doc opens with an invigorating handheld shot as the camera follows several Congolese citizens through their village towards the hills. A woman sings and claps her hands. The camera operator changes position. The shift in vantage point reveals that one of the men in the group has a rifle strapped to his shoulder. Another man has a rocket launcher slung across his chest. As the men break from the village and cross the lush green hillside, a character says in

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Review: In the Intense Now

In the Intense Now (No Intenso Agora) (Brazil, 127 min.) Dir. João Moreira Salles   When it comes to writing, wordsmiths rely on the advice of William Faulkner, “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” There are turns of phrase, lengthy passages of carefully crafted verbiage, or clever allusions that might give a writer pride, but will cause his or her editor to gag. Less is more, and shooting a few prized puppies can yield cleaner and stronger prose. Nobody will ever love your words as much as you do. Filmmakers might also want to heed Mr. Faulkner’s advice and

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Review: ‘Maker of Monsters’

Maker of Monsters: The Extraordinary Life of Beau Dick (Canada, 91 min.) Dir. LaTiesha Ti’si’tla Fazakas, Natalie Boll   Beau Dick makes one heck of a mask, but he doesn’t wear one. The late Kwakwaka’wakw carver speaks plainly and truthfully in the documentary Maker of Monsters: The Extraordinary Life of Beau Dick and, for a man celebrated for beautiful wooden masks, Dick refuses to hide. This portrait of the late artist and activist from Alert Bay, British Columbia, honours the legacy of a man who inspired his people to wear their faces with pride. The doc situates Dick’s life and

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