Hot Docs has announced its first wave of titles for the 2022 festival. Acclaimed Sundance films compromise the bulk of the first fifteen Special Presentations titles released by the festival. As expected, Fire of Love will make its Canadian premiere at Hot Docs after kicking off Sundance’s U.S. Documentary Competition. The all-archival portrait of risk-taking volcanologists debuted to wide acclaim at the festival and won a special prize for film editing. Directed by Sara Dosa and produced by Ina Fichman, Shane Boris, and Dosa, the Hot Docs premiere marks a homecoming of sorts as Fire of Love appeared in the 2021 Forum and won the first look pitch prize.
Other Sundance favourites making their Canadian premieres at Hot Docs include Reid Davenport’s city symphony I Didn’t See You There, which sees the Bay Area from the perspective of the filmmaker in his wheelchair. Davenport won the American directing prize at Sundance this year. Meanwhile, a portrait of Ukrainian children comes in Sundance’s World Cinema Directing Award winner A House Made of Splinters from Simon Lereng Wilmont, who previously made a splash at Hot Docs with The Distant Barking of Dogs. A Sundance winner for social impact, Aftershock is Paul Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee’s portrait of two Black widowers and the health care system that puts Black women at serious risk during childbirth. Also screening is Abigail E. Disney and Kathleen Hughes’ provocative study of capitalism and inequity The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales, which debuted at Sundance’s Special Screenings, as did Rachel Lears’ To the End, her follow-up to the festival hit Knock Down the House.
World premieres among the Special Presentations titles include Barry Avrich’s The Talented Mr. Rosenberg. The latest doc from the prolific Canadian director tells the jaw-dropper of a story about the “Yorkville Swindler” who conned a lover in the pre-Tinder days. Avrich previously delighted audiences with the art-of-the-con cap Made You Look. On the international front, Million Dollar Pigeons from Irish director Gavin Fitzgerald offers a look at the high stakes world of bird racing, while The Quiet Epidemic from U.S. directors Lindsay Keys and Winslow Crane-Murdoch explores a case of Lyne’s Disease dating back to 1975.
Hot Docs returns in a hybrid format this year as Ontario quits COVID precautions cold turkey while the vaccination rate rises. The festival kicks off April 28.
The first Special Presentations titles for Hot Docs 2022 are as follows:
D: Paula Eiselt, Tonya Lewis Lee | P: Paula Eiselt, Tonya Lewis Lee | USA | 2022 | 89 min | International Premiere
Two bereaved Black fathers become activists after the deaths of their partners due to preventable childbirth complications, galvanizing others to seek justice, legislation and medical accountability in an unspoken US crisis: maternal health care.
The American Dreams and Other Fairy Tales
D: Abigail E. Disney, Kathleen Hughes | P: Aideen Kane, Abigail E. Disney, Kathleen Hughes | USA | 2022 | 87 min | International Premiere
Once “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Disneyland and its low-wage workers have become emblematic of America’s profound inequality crisis. Through her family’s story, filmmaker and activist Abigail Disney explores why the American Dream has worked for the wealthy but not for people born with less.
Angels of Sinjar
D: Hanna Polak | P: Hanna Polak, Simone Baumann | Poland, Germany | 2022 | 109 min | North American Premiere
After surviving an ISIS attack on the Yezidi, a religious and ethnic minority in northern Iraq, Hanifa sets out into one of the most underreported and dangerous places on Earth to find her enslaved sisters and bring them home.
D: Julia Bacha | P: Suhad Babaa, Daniel J. Chalfen | USA | 2021 | 74 min | Canadian Premiere
Boycotts have long been accepted as a means of peaceful protest for activists seeking social change, but now in most US states laws penalize everyday citizens who support such actions against Israel. Follow those following their conscience in this shocking free speech battle.
D: Maria Loohufvud | P: Maria Loohufvud, Love Martinsen| Sweden | 2022 | 84 min | Canadian Premiere
Battling a deeply rooted patriarchal society with unbridled enthusiasm and elaborate routines, a dance troupe of women over 60 give it their all, contributing to their Florida community and bonding in sisterhood while renegotiating their identities in the face of aging and invisibility.
Fire of Love
D: Sara Dosa | P: Shane Boris, Ina Fichman, Sara Dosa | USA | 2022 | 90 min | Canadian Premiere
Disenchanted with humanity, two intrepid scientists devote themselves to understanding the mysteries of volcanoes and unexpectedly fall in love. A poetic and playful tale of creation and destruction, the ephemeral and the eternal and the pursuit of the unknown.
A House Made of Splinters
D: Simon Lereng Wilmont | P: Monica Hellström | Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Ukraine | 2022 | 87 min | Canadian Premiere
Near Ukraine’s frontline, social workers at a special shelter offer refuge to abandoned children. With only nine months to reunite families or find foster placements before having to transfer their wards to orphanages, love tests resilience in this gripping award-winner.
I Didn’t See You There
D: Reid Davenport | P: Keith Wilson | USA | 2022 | 76 min | International Premiere
When a circus tent goes up outside of his apartment, a disabled filmmaker reflects on the legacy of freak shows. Shot entirely from the perspective of his wheelchair and feet, this Sundance award-winner offers an unflinching commentary on spectacle and (in)visibility.
Million Dollar Pigeons
D: Gavin Fitzgerald | P: Samantha Corr | Ireland | 2022 | 98 min | World Premiere
Pigeon masters from across the globe compete in the highest-stakes bird races on the planet. Fame, fortune and livelihoods rest on the wings of these feathered athletes in this hilarious and charming story.
D: Luke Griswold-Tergis | P: Jed Riffe, Luke Griswold-Tergis, Maureen Gosling | USA | 2022 | 101 min | North American Premiere
An idiosyncratic Russian geophysicist and his son rush to gather large woolly beasts and transport them to remote Siberia to restore the Ice Age “mammoth steppe” ecosystem and help save the planet from the catastrophic effects of global warming.
The Quiet Epidemic
D: Lindsay Keys, Winslow Crane-Murdoch | P: Daria Lombroso, Lindsay Keys, Chris Hegedus | USA | 2022 | 102 min | World Premiere
A diagnosis of Chronic Lyme disease lands patients in the middle of a contentious medical debate and sparks an explosive investigation dating back to 1975 that shockingly reveals why ticks, and the diseases they carry, have been allowed to spread globally.
A Symphony for a Common Man
D: José Joffily | P: Isabel Joffily | Brazil | 2022 | 83 min | International Premiere
As head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Brazilian diplomat José Bustani became an obstacle in America’s march to war with Iraq. Ousted from his position, he now revisits the chilling events that marked a turning point in global power structures.
The Talented Mr. Rosenberg
D: Barry Avrich | P: Courtney Shea, Caitlin Cheddie, Mark Selby, Barry Avrich | Canada | 2022 | 70 min | World Premiere
A lurid and revelatory look into our oh-so-susceptible selves, The Talented Mr. Rosenberg is a fascinating investigation into the unfathomable mind, motive and method of Albert Rosenberg, aka the Yorkville Swindler, and the people who fell for his cons over and over again.
D: Shalini Kantayya | P: Ross Dinerstein, Danni Mynard, Shalini Kantayya | USA | 2022 | 91 min | Canadian Premiere
TikTok took the world by storm during the height of the global lockdowns, but as data and dollars flow back to its founders in China, Western governments, users and TikTok stars are asking how it really works and what free speech means in a hyper-connected world.
To the End
D: Rachel Lears | P: Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, Rachel Lears, Robin Blotnick | USA | 2022 | 104 min | Canadian Premiere
As the clock ticks on the climate crisis, four young women of colour (Varshini Prakash, Alexandra Rojas, Rhiana Gunn-Wright and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) courageously challenge America’s political leadership in their fight for the Green New Deal.