Xavierpop was very thrilled to provide the in-depth coverage it did for Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary film festival. Our coverage can be found here, here, here, here, here and here with our top picks of the festival here. There were some riveting, touching and fantastic films that made up the 189 films that showed during the 11-day event.
Initial attendance numbers are in and the festival is pleased to announce a record audience of 165,000. Very well deserved success to a festival that has reinvigorated a part of the industry that never really gets all the attention it truly deserves.
“In these challenging times for Canadian doc-makers, our audience numbers have broken all previous records,” say Chris McDonald, Hot Docs executive director. “This country has a global reputation for outstanding documentary filmmaking, and Toronto audiences are quite possibly the best in the world. We need to support our filmmakers and their contributions to Canadian culture as best we can. As was so eloquently argued by director Kevin McMahon this weekend, documentary should be Canada’s national art form.”
Congrats to all.
One of Xavierpop’s Top 5 Docs To Watch has walked away with one of the top prizes at this Hot Docs Canadian Documentary Film Festival. Earlier tonight, The World Before Her took home the Prize for Best Canadian Feature. A documentary that shines a light on the struggle and cultural challenges young girls in India face came into the festival having been just recently awarded the Best Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. Playing to packed houses and fantastic reviews, it is indeed a worthy documentary for the prize.
Call Me Kuchu walked with the best International Feature. The important and must-see documentary looks at the formidable efforts of Ugandan activist David Kato to fight his country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill and liberate his fellow LGBT citizens. Powerful and humbling, Call Me Kuchu exemplifies why the art of documentary is such an important part of film.
Other top prize winners include Peace Out taking home the Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature and Boxing Girls of Kabul taking home the Inspirit Foundation Pluralism Prize.
Full details in the press release below, however I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the festival on another successful run.
HOT DOCS AWARDS TOP HONOURS TO THE WORLD BEFORE HER AND CALL ME KUCHU
Toronto, May 4, 2012 – Hot Docs is pleased to announce the winners of the Festival’s 2012 awards. The Hot Docs Awards Presentation, hosted by Jian Ghomeshi (host, Q CBC Radio One), took place on Friday, May 4, at the Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto. Ten awards and $71,000 in cash prizes were presented to Canadian and international filmmakers, including awards for Festival films in competition and those recognizing emerging and established filmmakers. The Best Canadian Feature, Best International Feature, and the Inspirit Foundation Pluralism Prize winners will have encore screenings on Sunday, May 6.
The award for Best Canadian Feature was presented to THE WORLD BEFORE HER (D: Nisha Pahuja; P: Cornelia Principe, Nisha Pahuja, Ed Barreveld), a revealing looking at the clash between modernity and tradition faced by young women in India. Sponsored by the Documentary Organization of Canada, the award includes a $10,000 prize courtesy of Hot Docs. Jury statement: “For its brave and provocative exploration of the role of women at its two extremes in contemporary Indian society, the jury recognizes the exceptional storytelling of THE WORLD BEFORE HER. THE WORLD BEFORE HER will screen on Saturday, May 5, at 9:30 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West) and on Sunday, May 6, at 11:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street West).
The Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature was presented to PEACE OUT (D: Charles Wilkinson; P: Tina Schliessler), which explores the high costs of energy development in Canada’s pristine Peace River. Sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada and the DGC-Ontario, the award includes a $5000 prize courtesy of Hot Docs. Jury statement: “For its intelligent treatment of the environmental debate around the Peace River, an urgent Canadian issue with global implications, the jury recognizes PEACE OUT as a necessary call to arms.”
New this year, the Inspirit Foundation Pluralism Prize was awarded to a film in the Canadian Spectrum program that presents an accessible perspective (or perspectives) of one or more belief systems in such a way as to contribute to the development of mutual understanding, respect and inclusion among young people in society. Selected and presented by the Inspirit Foundation, the inaugural prize was awarded to THE BOXING GIRLS OF KABUL (D: Ariel J. Nasr; P: Annette Clark), the story of a courageous group of young Afghan women who risk persecution to become world-class boxers, training in a stadium where the Taliban once executed women. The award comes with a $10,000 prize courtesy of the Inspirit Foundation. THE BOXING GIRLS OF KABUL will screen again on Sunday, May 6, at 1:30 p.m. and at 6:15 p.m. at the Cumberland Cinemas (159 Cumberland Street).
The award for Best International Feature was presented to CALL ME KUCHU (D: Malika Zouhali-Worrall, Katherine Fairfax Wright; P: Malika Zouhali-Worrall; USA), which looks at the formidable efforts of Ugandan activist David Kato to fight his country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill and liberate his fellow LGBT citizens. Sponsored by A&E, the award includes a $10,000 prize courtesy of Hot Docs. Jury statement: “CALL ME KUCHU explains a great injustice with life-and-death consequences and accomplishes the rare achievement of showing both the human tragedies and the triumphs of the struggle. Combining directorial intent with the prescience and persistence that enables a documentary’s crew to be in an important place at an important time, we the Jury recognize CALL ME KUCHU for its wrenching yet inspiring depiction of people trying to succeed as humans and as activists in the face of hatred.” CALL ME KUCHU will screen again on Saturday, May 5, at 9:00 p.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street West) and on Sunday, May 6, at 6:00 p.m. at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West).
The Special Jury Prize – International Feature was presented to THE LAW IN THESE PARTS (D: Ra’anan Alexandrowicz; P: Liran Atzmor, B.Z. Goldberg; Israel), in which the legal minds who worked in the Occupied Territories in the Gaza Strip speak candidly about creating a framework that has had a profound global impact. Sponsored by the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the award includes a $5000 prize courtesy of Hot Docs. Jury statement: “We the Jury recognize THE LAW IN THESE PARTS for its brilliance and simplicity, turning the issues of history in Israel and the Palestinian Territories into a broader and more direct question: How precisely do civilized democracies process legally and morally complex actions in the name of survival? Viewing legislation through the lens of the people who enacted it long ago with a modern and forward-looking sense of filmmaking as art, THE LAW IN THESE PARTS reveals the fragile nature of international law in contemporary conflict.”
The HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award was shared by the directors of two films: Bill Ross and Turner Ross for TCHOUPITOULAS (P: Bill Ross, Turner Ross; USA), and Benjamin Kahlmeyer for MEANWHILE IN MAMELODI (P: Boris Frank; Germany, South Africa). The HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award is sponsored by HBO Documentary Films. Jury statement: “We the Jury recognize these films because they have an indelible sense of place while speaking to universal concerns of community. We also recognize these films as they represent a superb combination of both the constructed and the found. While each film shows us places we think we know, whether New Orleans or Pretoria, both use the tools and craft of non-fiction storytelling to give the viewer different perspectives and new insights. The Jury awards these prizes in recognition of the merits of these films, but also to note how strongly and sincerely we look forward to the future works from these filmmakers as they continue to push the medium forward.”
The award for Best Mid-Length Documentary was presented to MY THAI BRIDE (D/P: David Tucker; Australia), the story of a Welshman’s complicated marriage to an attractive younger Thai woman. Sponsored by Canada Council for the Arts, the award includes a $3000 prize courtesy of Hot Docs. Jury statement: “MY THAI BRIDE is a film that takes the story of an unlikely couple and through subtle analysis extends their human dramas into a moving examination of political, cultural and economic power dynamics. It is a film that destabilizes its viewer’s empathy through a nuanced and even-handed portrayal of charged, contradictory terrain, and reframes who exactly is the conqueror and conquered.” The Shorts and Mid-Length Jury also gave an honourable mention to NESSA (D: Loghman Khaledi; P: Katayoon Shahabi; Iran).
The award for Best Short Documentary was presented to FIVE FRAGMENTS OF THE EXTINCT EMPATHY (D: Anna Nykyri; P: Joonas Berghäll; Finland), which lays bare Finland’s antipathy towards dealing with domestic violence. The award includes a $3000 prize courtesy of Hot Docs. Jury statement: “In just seven minutes this film creates a poetry of contraction between its stunning black and white imagery and grandiose music, to illustrate how cycles of violence persist and are imprinted upon the faces of Finnish women.” The Shorts and Mid-Length Jury also gave an honourable mention to FAMILY NIGHTMARE (D/P: Dustin Guy Defa; USA).
The Hot Docs Board of Directors acknowledged Michel Brault as the recipient of the 2012 Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award, which was presented to the influential Canadian filmmaker at an event earlier in the day.
documentary‘s Don Haig Award, presented annually to a Canadian documentary filmmaker whose work demonstrates a unique voice and talent, was awarded to Montreal-based director Mia Donovan (INSIDE LARA ROXX, Hot Docs 2011 Official Selection). Awarded by the Don Haig Foundation, the prize includes a $20,000 cash prize courtesy of documentary. Director Charles Officer (MIGHTY JEROME, Hot Docs 2011 Official Selection) received an honourable mention.
The Lindalee Tracey Award, which honours an emerging Canadian filmmaker with a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice and a sense of humour, was presented to Halifax filmmaker Jasmine Oore. As part of the award, the winner will receive a $5000 cash prize from the Lindalee Fund and $5000 in equipment rental donated by SIM Video International.
The 2012 awards for films in competition were determined by three juries.
The Canadian Feature Documentary Jury: Borislav Andjelic (film journalist; director of International Film Festival Belgrade), Maya Gallus (director, THE MYSTERY OF MAZO DE LA ROCHE), Dana O’Keefe (senior executive, Cinetic Media), Basil Tsiokos (programming associate, Sundance Film Festival; film journalist).
The International Feature Documentary Jury: Matthew Akers (director and cinematographer), Avril Benoît (director of communications, Doctors Without Borders – Canada), James Rocchi (film journalist), David Wilson (co-founder and co-director, True/False Film Fest).
The Shorts and Mid-Length Jury: Luis Ceriz (owner, Suspect Video), Marcelle Lean (executive director, Cinéfranco), Chi-hui Yang (film programmer, lecturer and writer).
The Hot Docs People’s Choice Award and audience top ten favourite films of the 2012 Festival, determined by audience ballot, will be announced on Monday, May 7. The public can contribute to a cash prize for the People’s Choice Award on Hot Docs’ crowd funding service Doc Ignite (www.hotdocs.ca/docignite). Also announced on this day is the Filmmaker Award, determined by ballots cast by Hot Docs 2012 filmmakers.
Hot Docs (www.hotdocs.ca) is North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market. From April 26 to May 6, Hot Docs’ 19th edition will present an outstanding selection of 189 documentaries from Canada and around the world to Toronto audiences and international delegates. Hot Docs will also mount a full roster of conference sessions and market events and services for documentary practitioners, including the renowned Hot Docs Forum, May 2 and 3, and The Doc Shop. In partnership with Blue Ice Group, Hot Docs operates the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, a century-old landmark located in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood.
The Hot Docs documentary Box Office, newly located at 783 Bathurst Street, is open for advance ticket and pass sales. Tickets can be purchased in person, online at www.hotdocs.ca, or by phone at 416-637-5150. Single tickets to screenings are $14.50 each. Late night screenings (after 11 p.m.) are $5 each or $10 for an All-You-Can-Eat Late Night Pass (one ticket to each of the nine screenings). A Festival 10-Pack is $115, a Festival 20-Pack is $205, and a Bloor Cinema All Access Pass is $115. Courtesy of Scotiabank, Hot Docs offers free tickets for all screenings before 6 p.m. to seniors (60+) and students with valid photo I.D. at the venue box offices on the day of the screening (subject to availability)
Hot Docs is proud to include Scotiabank, Rogers Group of Funds, Telefilm Canada and documentary as its Presenting Partners.
Hot Docs is in its final days and judging by the buzz on the social web, it shaping up to be a resounding success. As a way to extend its reach and bring Documentaries to the masses across Canada, the festival has partnered with Cineplex to bring you Hot Docs Live!! Across this country, you will be able to catch China Heavyweight and Indie Game : The Movie the same time as those watching it in theatre at the Bloor Hot Docs cinema with the full Q&A simulcast as well.
Full details below. This is a great idea and hopefully you can catch either one of these great documentaries.
Oh Look! A Press Release:
Hot Docs And Cineplex Entertainment Announce Hot Docs Live!
Program to feature the Canadian premiere of two highly anticipatedÂ Hot Docs Festival Films
Toronto, April 16, 2012 - Hot Docs and Cineplex Entertainment today announced Hot Docs Live!, a program featuring the Canadian premiere screenings of two high-profile Hot Docs Festival films, INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE (D: James Swirsky, Lisanne Pajot; Canada) and CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT (D: Yung Chang; Canada, China).
Hot Docs Live! can be seen at 35 Cineplex Entertainment theatres across the country. CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT and INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE premiere on May 2 and 3, respectively, at 9:00 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. CT, 7 p.m. MT, 6 p.m. PT. These screenings and special interactive discussions with the filmmakers and special guests will be simulcast live from the newly opened Bloor Hot Docs Cinema via Cineplex Entertainmentâs Front Row Centre Events to participating theatres across Canada.
Hot Docs is one of the first festivals in the world to present live cross-country screenings and filmmaker discussions, says Chris McDonald, Hot Docs executive director. Festivals are about creating communities and this is a fantastic opportunity to share the unique Hot Docs Festival experience in real-time in communities across Canada. We are thrilled to multiply the impact of these great Canadian documentary films and to introduce these talented filmmakers to a wider audience.
We are honoured to partner with Hot Docs and Cineplex Entertainment in this groundbreaking collaboration to bring documentary films to audiences across the country, says Anne Frank, Telefilm Canadaâs Interim Regional Director of Industry Promotion, Ontario & Nunavut Region. Our participation underlines our objective to stimulate demand for Canadian screen-based content, including in the regions where the appetite for homegrown cinema is strong. Hot Docs Live! is also a unique opportunity to promote our talented filmmakers.
CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT, directed by award-winning Yung Chang (UP THE YANGTZE), follows a master coach in central China as he recruits poor rural teenagers and turns them into Western-style boxing champions. The top students face dramatic choices as they graduate: should they fight for the collective glory of their county or for themselves? A metaphor for the choices everyone now faces in the new China.
INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE, directed by James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot, looks at the underdogs of the video game industry, indie game developers, who sacrifice money, health and sanity to realize their lifelong dreams of sharing their creative visions with the world. The directors capture the tension and drama by focusing on these artists vulnerability and obsessive quest to express themselves through a 21st-century art form.
Both CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT and INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE received their world premieres at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Hot Docs Live! can be enjoyed at the following Cineplex theatres:
Alberta Cineplex Odeon Eau Claire Cinemas (Calgary) Cineplex Odeon North Edmonton Cineplex Odeon Westhills Cinemas (Calgary) Galaxy Cinemas Lethbridge
British Columbia Cineplex Odeon Aberdeen Mall (Kamloops) Cineplex Odeon International Village (Vancouver) Cineplex Odeon Westshore Cinemas (Langford) SilverCity Coquitlam SilverCity Metropolis (Burnaby) SilverCity Riverport (Richmond)
Manitoba SilverCity St. Vital (Winnipeg)
Ontario Cineplex Odeon Devonshire Mall (Windsor) Cineplex Odeon Eglinton Town Centre (Toronto) Cineplex Odeon Gardiner’s Road (Kingston) Cineplex Odeon Niagara Square (Niagara Falls) Cineplex Odeon Oshawa Cineplex Odeon Queensway (Toronto) Cineplex Odeon Sheppard Grande (Toronto) Cineplex Odeon Westmount Cinemas (London) Galaxy Cinemas Barrie Galaxy Cinemas Cambridge Galaxy Cinemas Peterborough Galaxy Cinemas Sault Ste. Marie SilverCity Gloucester (Ottawa) SilverCity Hamilton SilverCity Mississauga SilverCity Oakville SilverCity Richmond Hill SilverCity Sudbury SilverCity Thunder Bay
Quebec Cineplex Odeon Cavendish Mall (Cote St. Luc) Colossus Laval Scotiabank Theatre Montreal
Saskatchewan Galaxy Cinemas Regina Galaxy Cinemas Saskatoon
And with this post, we wrap up our capsule reviews that we have been presenting to you over the last few days. Fear not, we will be dropping full reviews of some of the documentaries as we check them out during the run of the festival. We look forward to seeing you back here for those reviews, however in the meantime please find below Part V of Xavierpop Does #HotDocs12, (this time provided by MovieJay (@moviejay).
We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists Rise Against
No doubt you’ve seen those “V For Vendetta” masks around on the news. You know the ones, they kinda remind you of Zorro with the bedroom eyes and the lascivious grin. They’re worn in festive celebration of civil disobedience by self-described “hacktivists”, a small group of online individuals that casts a net the world over, who stand for freedom of information.
“We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists” is an absolutely riveting documentary essay that gets behind the mystery of the folks who wear these masks. Questions such as why they wear them, what their intentions are and why we should care about the kinds of information our governments keep classified from us are studied.
Do their ends always justify their means? That’s what we’re left having to decide. A U.S. soldier gets a hold of thousands of classified documents that will give the public insight into how their government works at its highest levels and how it communicates with its counterparts both friendly and not so friendly. The documents find their way to Australian political/internet activist Julian Assange and he publishes the stuff online. The U.S. government views this as a serious crime and now the soldier is awaiting trial. It is the largest breach of American information since Daniel Ellsberg made copies of thousands of classified documents from the Nixon administration that were later published as the Pentagon Papers - the result of that being the accelerated withdrawal of the U.S. from the Vietnam war.
We meet various hacktivists including one that FBI agents, after a raid at her home, were surprised to find was a teenaged girl. She’s on trial for helping to make websites crash as a means of interrupting that website’s service both in terms of philosophy and business. We sit in rapture as we learn what it is hacktivists actually do online. Like, did you know if you and me and a couple hundred other folks meet at a website at an exact time and just start going crazy with the “refresh” feature that it will cause a website such a terrible migraine that it will stop working? That girl is on trial facing a sentence that would be longer than what a pedophile gets on a sexual assault rap.
“We Are Legion” is told in a fairly classic talking heads style, and it includes a bevvy of online stuff that helps to paint a picture of the world hacktivists inhabit online and how they operate. Thought-provoking, urgent and indignant, this is one of the best documentaries you’ll see this year. Director Brian Knappenberger, whose credits previously include television work, takes a major step forward here showing he can play with the A-listers in bringing big ideas to the forefront in a compelling narrative.
Back to the Square Rise Against
Fri, Apr 27 9:15 PM Isabel Bader Theatre Sun, Apr 29 2:00 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 Fri, May 4 1:30 PM Isabel Bader Theatre buy tickets
Director Petr Lom turns his camera on and then listens and follows 5 Egyptians in the year after revolution swept the streets and filled Tahrir Square, finally knocking over the 30-year hold on power of its dictator, Hosni Mubarak.
There’s the story of a self-reliant boy who took to his horse and went to Tahrir Square to press his case for the re-opening of the pyramids, which earn him money for his family. To his great misfortune, he is attacked by both Mubarak thugs and by people who confuse him for being a thug. He ends up without his horse and with a bruised pride. There is a taxi driver who recounts his time in prison for being falsely rounded-up by the country’s rampantly corrupt police. There’s a young woman who’s family name has been scorned in her rural village because she was the victim of rape. We’re informed that the arrests of young women for being assaulted by men continue to this day, as women continue to be scapegoated for the criminal actions of men.
The portraits add up to a sobering account of a revolution that persists to this day, even if the eyes of the world have moved elsewhere, and of the difficulties present in a country where making change is hard to do when its history is steeped in patriarchal traditions of the few with power dominating over the rest. There is an exasperating sequence where we see a tense debate take place between the victimized woman in the picture and with the head of the family, who resents that the filmmaker is in their small home without his permission being granted ahead of time. That scene distills the stubborn ways of the past with the hunger of the future generation and especially of women, to be heard and to be treated equally.
“Back to the Square” is sad at times, but it’s never depressing. It gets beyond the headlines and into the complexities of real people who continue to feel powerless in a system that is still being controlled by the Egyptian military, to the chagrin now of the people. “With the military in charge, civilians now get military trials while Mubarak receives a civilian trial”, one woman says, aptly. This is the kind of film like the “Up” series that would be fascinating to see updates of over time as these peoples lives evolve in a country that is still so very much unsettled in the direction it clearly is hungry to move in.
She Said Boom: The Story of the Fifth Column Next
Fri, Apr 27 7:15 PM The Royal Cinema Tue, May 1 9:00 PM Cumberland 2 Fri, May 4 7:00 PM Fox Theatre buy tickets
The Fifth Column was an all-female post-punk Toronto act that formed in the early 80′s. The mainstays were G.B. Jones, Caroline Azar and Beverly Breckenridge, and they’re featured prominently in interviews and archival footage of the band. Along with Bruce LaBruce and Ms. Vaginal Davis, we are taken inside the beginnings of what came to be known as the Queercore or Homocore movement in the post-punk and post-new wave era in music with its focus on society’s distate and negative attitude to the gay, bisexual and lesbian communities.
The movement was a mostly underground one that manifested itself with fanzines, music, experimental videos, and other literature.
As a fanboy of the Fifth Column myself, I can assure fans as well as non-fans that it’ll whet your appetite for their music, but that it is made without much flare and is at times a timid talking-head piece that only skims the surface of the times they lived in, and more importantly, of that delicious experimental punk sound with the industrial edge that qualified them surprisingly as innovators in their field. The best stuff lies in the archival black & white films such as the video of the band’s “Where Are They Now?” by Marc de Guerre, in a song that is as good as anything put out at the time. Also enthralling, we are given the backstory on “The Fairview Mall Story” about the true events detailing police entrapment and the revelation of the names of men found out in the shopping mall’s bathroom.
We are taken through the band’s first release, “To Sir With Hate”, to their subsequent release “All-Time Queen of the World”, their getting picked up by an indie label in the early 90′s, the touring and then the infighting and overall disorganization of the members who finally just dissolved soon after.
“She Said Boom: The Story of the Fifth Column” is good intro of a doc to anyone unfamiliar with the band, but it’s a safe doc at about 65 minutes, with seductive sounds and social material deserving of a more riveting treatment.
We hope you are enjoying them as much as we have been bringing them to you.
The Waiting Room World Showcase
Director Peter Nicks is yet another filmmaker being featured at Hot Docs whose previous credits include TV work exclusively, but who makes a big splash with his first feature doc detailing 24 hours in the life of an overflowing waiting room at a public hospital in Oakland’s Alameda County.
There are no title cards informing us of these people’s names, and that doesn’t matter because we know people just like this. There is no message and no big political points it wants to score. What it is however, is one of the most absorbing pure documents of how public hospital life is like in a major urban center. It is a human drama where Nicks’ camera does an amazing job through his cinema verite style to give us a generous, lived-in feeling of the lives of the patients as well as the caretakers we meet.
“The Waiting Room” provides amazing inside access to emergency rooms and nurse stations beyond the waiting room where we see teams of doctors trying to save gunshot wound victims, where care is given to a homeless man who simply can’t be released back out into the cold and an in another unfolding human drama, we meet a concerned father and his daughter who has a tonsil infection. The man has been out of work for about a year and while his daughter is simply trying to deal with a high fever and a really sore throat, we feel the hopelessness in the father’s face while getting a nifty glimpse inside a poll that says that American women are most concerned about health-care. When mom enters the picture , she is immediately able to answer all of the questions the nurse needs that the father simply wasn’t aware of.
In a country where its health insurance lobby has just finished recording their best decade profit-wise in American history, “The Waiting Room” does not force any big questions on us and gives no easy answers, but it does force us to see how the system is working on the front lines, and in there the questions are profound.
Soldier/Citizen Special Presentation
Sun, Apr 29 6:00 PM Bloor Hot Docs Cinema Mon, Apr 30 2:00 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 Sat, May 5 9:00 PM The ROM Theatre buy tickets This is no ordinary classroom drama. It follows a crash course in civics for Israeli soldiers in order for them to achieve their high school equivalencies. It is a 3-week course that examines the notions of freedom, liberty, pluralism, discrimination and whether trading liberty for security can really get the job done in the long run for the Israeli people.
The questions it poses for the audience are profound one. Early on the class learns about how up until 1966, Arab Israelis needed special permission to move around Israel and to own businesses or homes. Never mind that they were promised equality under the constitution, one student/soldier quips. If he wants to rent an apartment he owns to a fellow Jew, he doesn’t see that kind of discrimination as a negative thing. It’s simply his prerogative to rent it to who he likes and feels comfortable with.
The moderate tone of the teachers is viewed as bleeding heart liberalism to the young soldiers, who have been brought up to be suspicious of Arabs. The prejudice is thick among these students, and we eventually get the sense that they’re being run through this mill as a means of giving them an easy credit. Their minds have already been cemented with fear, prejudice and hate, and although we find ourselves captivated by the questions and the discussion that makes up the entire experience of this film, we fear that it comes too late in the process. Where was the education about tolerance and cultural understanding before the state decided to make everyone a warrior against outsiders?
Silvina Landesman, the director, does a great job of turning the camera on and simply listening to class discussion in a movie that should be required viewing for anyone interested in the Middle East peace process focusing on the aspect of the education of young people and how that meets up with familial and cultural prejudices.
The Great Liberty International Spectrum
Sat, Apr 28 6:30 PM The ROM Theatre Mon, Apr 30 4:30 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 Sun, May 6 9:15 PM Isabel Bader Theatre buy tickets
“The Great Liberty” finds a son piecing together who is father is after he has been found murdered in his home in Germany. His old man was born in Sweden, split from his wife and son when he was younger, but corresponded with him with journals of his travels and his quest for personal and sexual freedom.
The movie is like a puzzle, as the grown son sifts through a glorious amount of archival footage collected by his old man through a life that is well-documented in journals and audio recordings, and serves as a reminder of the times we live in that it is more possible now to put a real picture together of a person beyond only still photos or letters.
The old man was murdered by his young male lover and possible that guy’s mother, too. The investigating team scoured the house and they along with the media helped to paint a picture of what they saw to be a loner who was perhaps mixed up in drug abuse and sadist activities.
“The Great Liberty” is not only riveting for the straightforward job of the estranged son trying to come to a deeper understanding of his father, but it’s an equally evocative study in how he must do so confronted within a framework where his father has been judged unfairly by both the authorities and the media for the provocative details of his personal life and their discomfort with those things. What we’re left with is the searching for greater truths not only within the spirit of the dead father, but within the living son, in this absorbing character study that fascinates us with all of its old footage while it also allows us time for contemplation throughout as well.
Hot Docs is launching and while we have our coverage rolling out in full force, there is one documentary that we here at Xavierpop are very eager to watch, review and simply enjoy.
Marley which (obviously) launched 4/20 has been getting rave reviews. In fact, I am not aware of anyone who doesn’t like it. About one of the greatest legends in music, we are getting unique access through family, archival footage and even unreleased music. Prince is known for having a huge vault of music he has created, I could only imagine how huge the one holding all of Bob Marley‘s music.
About the Film Marley was originally supposed to be directed by Silence of the Lambs filmmaker Jonathan Demme before Life in a Day and Last King of Scotland director Kevin Macdonald came on board. It chronicles the life of Bob Marley and his career as a reggae musician before passing away in 1981.