Subscribers to Entertainment Maven have had their inboxes and Facebook pages barraged over the last ten or so days with our coverage of Toronto’s massive documentary film festival, Hot Docs 2012. Despite our feverish reviewing, we still only managed to scratch the surface of this incredible festival. Below are three different wrap-ups of the festival from three different writers who attended.
Hot Docs 2012 marks my first full fest for Hot Docs, my first festival doing coverage for Entertainment Maven, and my first media accreditation for a fest. That’s a lot of firsts, and it will hold a special place in my memory because of this. This also marks the last time I will ever see a movie at the Cumberland Four, more on that in the upcoming days. I was excited to get back into fest mode but wary of how I would enjoy a fest of only docs, well the answer is that I enjoyed it very much and saw some great films. Thanks go to the staff and volunteers of the fest and the guys over at VKPR for all the help on the media side. While the day job prohibited me from seeing everything on my list, I did get to see a fair amount of the films I had earmarked. Among the notables were Affair of the Heart, Love Story, Radioman and just missing the top five list, the excellent Inocente and Despite the Gods. That said here are my five faves of the fest
5 – Indie Game: The Movie
4 – Ping Pong
3 – Marley (you’ll see more about that soon)
2 – Tchoupitoulas
1 – Bones Brigade: An Autobiography (I admit bias in picking this as #1 because of my love for Dogtown and Z-Boys, but I’m picking it anyways)
Fascinating. That’s probably one of the words I abused while talking to you guys about the movies I’ve seen at this year’s Hot Docs. And most of them do deserve the words in the best of sense, since the filmmakers scoured the earth for the most well…fascinating and creative and innovative and intelligent people to put in front of their cameras. As for favourites, the first thing that comes to my head is Tchoupitoulas, with its bare bones depiction of New Orleans in the eyes of three – but really one – working class child. But that’s my brain speaking, that movie’s in the top five. My real favourite is Scarlet Road, which had the breezy tone of meeting the friends of a woman struggling to find change of the statuses of sex workers and differently-abled people in all of Australia and the world. There’s Soldier Citizen, showing me that I don’t have to like the people in them, whose political views range from radical to moderate, as long as I can understand and see the complexities within their views. It portrays the debates between Israeli soldiers and their teacher, but the movie also mixes those heated moments with the mundane, as young people are allowed to be young. Then there’s We Are Legion, absorbing the electric pace fitting for their hacktivist subjects, reminding me of the dreaded time I stepped into 4chan and /b and the other time the bad boys and girls turned good. And lastly there’s the devastating Call Me Kuchu with its occasional moments of bright faces and objects fighting oppressive homophobia in Uganda. I’ve also witnessed some sad moments on the big screen but there’s a bittersweet realization that these people, both posthumously or still moving and shaking, will be remembered by these films. I can’t wait until next year when the filmmakers responsible for these movies will come back and tell us about more of their passionate subject. And I’m sure the screens will dazzle us with more of their work.
As Hot Docs 2012 is officially in the books, the one thing that strikes me from previous years was the excellent attendance at this year’s version of the festival – which was a new record. The reopening of the Bloor Cinema as the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema certainly added to the curiosity and while there weren’t necessarily as many high profile films this year as compared to last, it has to be considered as one of the finer festivals in recent years given the incredibly strong lineup. Films like Detropia, The Imposter, The Invisible War and The Queen of Versailles made incredibly strong impressions on this critic personally and I have no doubt that they will all be making appearances in Toronto theatres in the weeks and months to come. Music documentaries played a big role this year as Marley packed both screenings at this year’s festival and tickets to Shut Up and Play the Hits, Charles Bradley: Soul Of America, Beware of Mr. Baker and An Affair of the Heart were hot commodities as each of these films delighted audiences and created some new fans for these bands and artists. Films like Beauty is Embarrassing, Ping-Pong and Radioman provided some uplifting moments. The Ambassador and Despite the Gods had a few crazy moments and then there were films like McCulin, Only the Young and Tchoupitoulas that just sneak up and their audiences and surprise them. That is ultimately the magic of a festival like this as it allows you to take chances and support some incredibly interesting films.
As a pure ranking of favorites I would have to rank my favorite five films as the following.
5 – Despite the Gods
3 -The Queen of Versailles
2 -The Imposter
1 – Tchoupitoulas