Saturday, 23 April 2016

5 films to see at Hot Docs

The Hot Docs Documentary film festival returns to Toronto from April 28 to May 8, 2016.  
I had a chance to review a few of the films prior to the festival.  They couldn't be more different from each other in subject matter, from food, music, dancing, and guns to Alzheimer's disease.   All of these subjects are really close to my heart for many reasons and I am always astounded by the quality of the documentaries Hot Docs finds every year. 
This year in 11 days there are 232 films in 12 programs from 51 countries with 40% that are made by female directors. which is unprecedented.  

These are a few of the films I was able to see prior to the festival.

Ants on a Shrimp
ANTS ON A SHRIMP (Special Presentations)
D: Maurice Dekkers | Netherlands | 2016 | 88 min | Canadian Premiere
Michelin chef RenĂ© Redzepi of “The World’s Best Restaurant” Noma temporarily closes Noma to head to Tokyo for a five-week pop-up.  He is a man that isn't content on doing what he has already done and as he built his Denmark restaurant from what was available from the land around him, he tries to bring this sensibility to the menu creation in Tokyo.  Will it work? Will they expect the same food as the Noma menu?  How does he retain his integrity and creativity in an unfamiliar place?  This is an intense look inside the world of innovative chefs and the dedication it takes to produce food at such a high level.

SUNDAY, MAY 1                                6:45 PM               ISABEL BADER THEATRE
MONDAY, MAY 2                              12:30 PM              HART HOUSE THEATRE
WEDNESDAY, MAY 4                        6:30 PM                ISABEL BADER THEATRE
SUNDAY, MAY 8                                6:00 PM               THE ROYAL

David Byrne - Contemporary Colour
John Mann - Spirit Unforgettable
Under the Gun

CONTEMPORARY COLOR (Special Presentations)
D: Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross | USA | 2016 | 96 min | International Premiere
An extraordinary lineup of top music stars including event mastermind David Byrne of The Talking Heads, Nelly Furtado, St. Vincent and more perform live with 10 “colour guard” teams—perfectly synchronized students in pep-rally choreography—in this one-of-a-kind, kaleidoscopic event.
This film is an interesting look at mixing art forms and collaboration between Music artist and creative young dance groups.  The colour guard is a mix between cheerleeding and modern dance. 

MONDAY, MAY 2                              6:30 PM                BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA
WEDNESDAY, MAY 4                       4:15 PM                TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX
SUNDAY, MAY 8                               1:00 PM                BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA

D: Pete McCormack | Canada | 2016 | 86 min) 
John Mann the front man for Canadian Celtic rock band Spirit of the West and his wife, actress and playwright Jill Daum decide to tell their story of John's early onset of Alzheimer's disease before the progression declines.  
I didn't know anything much about the Spirit of the West but I do know about the effects of Alzheimer's and this is what it looks like at the early stages.  John Mann is only 52 and still able to function but with his friends and family but how can he continue a career that is based on remembering music and lyrics.  It's a sad look into the reality of what is lost from this disease.

                          HOT DOCS SCREENING DATES:
                                     SATURDAY, APRIL 30                  9:00 PM                  ISABEL BADER THEATRE
                                     MONDAY, MAY 2                         3:00 PM                  HART HOUSE THEATRE
                                     SUNDAY, MAY 8                          12:30 PM                ROYAL CINEMA
Gary Numan: Android in LA LA LAND
D: Steve Reid, Rob Alexander | UK | 2016 | 85 min | Canadian Premiere
Gary Numan was one of the leaders of the electronic music era in the 80's but as the electronic music's popularity faded Numan became somewhat of a recluse in the UK.  It would probably have been the end of him and his career if he hadn't met a fan who became his supportive wife.  Gemme was as his explains, everything he isn't.  They struggle to have children and are finally blessed with 3 lovely girls.  Numan had continued to produce music for all the wrong reasons and in the process fell into depression and anxiety and finally creating the music that was therapeutic for him became his driving force to lift him from crushing insecurity and anxiety. Numan and his wife struggled through money issues, infertility, depression and family struggles but it was Numan's new music that lifted him out of the depths of his despair.  This film had me transfixed with the music and the look into the heart of what it takes to have a career in the music industry.  It will make you want to run out and get his music as soon as you leave the theatre.   

                           HOT DOCS SCREENING DATES:
                                   SUNDAY, MAY 1                           9:15 PM                 ISABEL BADER THEATRE
                                   TUESDAY, MAY 3                        12:45 PM                 BELL TIFF LIGHTBOX
                                   SUNDAY, MAY 8                           8:30 PM                  ROYAL CINEMA

UNDER THE GUN (D: Stephanie Soechtig | USA | 2016 | 110 min)  
Founder of gun control group Sandy Hook Promise. 
I had my days mixed up and thought I was going to see Ants on a Shrimp but ended up seeing Under the Gun and as the first scenes started playing I realized this film had nothing to do with food but right away I had an uneasy feeling as I watched people sit in a circle and talk about guns.  This film has an inside look into how the NRA (National Rifle Association) affects the gun laws and the U.S.A. and the phenomena of how gun sales spike every time there is a mass shooting in the U.S.  Did you know that you are 16 times more likely to be shot by a gun in the U.S. as you are in Britain?  Why? Because the gun lobbyist control the gun laws in the United States.  In other countries where there is higher gun control and registration of guns the deaths from guns decreases.   You would think that the laws would change after the mass shooting of many kids at Sandy Hook would make people step up and do the right thing but the NRA instead put fear into people's hearts while hiding behind the 1st ammendment right to bear arms.  It's just insane and it's getting worse.  After watching Piers Morgan on  CNN show weekly mass murders and have panels of gun supporters talk about the issue while the rise in fatalities increased it just made me sick to my stomach.  I now don't have CNN and that might be a good thing.  It comes down to money and power in the end over innocent lives.  Katie Couric narrates this look at the divided world of gun registration. 

                         HOT DOCS SCREENING DATES:
                                TUESDAY, MAY 3                      3:15 PM                        BELL TIFF LIGHTBOX
                                THURSDAY, MAY 5                   9:30 PM                        BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA
                                SUNDAY, MAY 8                       9:30 PM                         ROYAL CINEMA

For info and Tickets:  
*images provided by V.K.and Associates Inc.