Rob picked the selections this year, and for three of the selections we ordered extra tickets so we could bring along friends and family.
Seeing so many films over the week is immersive and intense and eye-opening. The stories reflect the larger society and times in which we live, from the quirky to the endearing, to the truly horrifying. It's like traveling the world, and just like at the end of a long trip, I am happy to arrive home with a new perspective.
all descriptions from Hot Docs catalogue unless otherwise noted
You're Soaking in It From Madison Avenue to Silicon Valley, Scott Harper deconstructs advertising’s pervasive presence through a comprehensive and engaging look at the dynamic changes it has made over the past half century—shifting from “mad men” to “math men.”
Mermaids In this tribute to the eternal allure of an ancient myth, colourful fins and swimming pools fill the lives of five modern-day women who strive to embody the mysterious siren as part of a growing “mermaiding” subculture.
Whitney "Can I Be Me" Most of the concert footage in the film comes from Dolezal's incomplete documentary about Houston's 1999 world tour. This forms the backbone of the film, as it constantly flashes back and forth between the tour and historical information about Houston's life. It's stunning to watch the singer at such a pivotal moment in her life, when her connection with husband Bobby Brown became more destructive and she lost touch with her longtime closest ally, Robyn Crawford. It is with Crawford that Broomfield's intention most clearly lies: He takes Brown's claim that Crawford and Houston were lovers and runs with it, portraying Houston as a queer woman trapped in a time and family that rejected anything besides heterosexuality. Hype
Gilbert What’s not to love about Gilbert Gottfried? Publicly polarizing yet intensely private, the scandalous comic opens his peculiar life and process to cameras.
All That Passes By Through a Window That Doesn't Open Embark on a mesmerizing railway journey through the Eurasian expanse where Azerbaijani men labour, dance, dream and wait for a more fruitful life while building the “new Silk Road."
Goran the Camel Man Goran is Swiss, who travels to his gypsy wagon with his dogs, goats and camel recreating the Silk Road. The film was made in Georgia (Eurasia) shows a fragment of his unusual lifestyle.
Avec l'Amour An aging teacher in Macedonia is set to retire and devote himself not to his hard-grafting wife, but to his first love: collecting rust-bucket cars. Find delight in one man’s compulsive drive to live his lifelong dream.
The Last Animals From Africa’s front lines to Asian markets to European zoos, this animal-rights thriller follows the conservationists, scientists and activists battling poachers and transnational trafficking syndicates to protect the last of the world’s elephants and rhinos from extinction.
Bird on a Wire Leonard Cohen's career was on the verge of complete disaster in late 1971. Songs of Love and Hate, his most recent record, peaked at #145 on the American charts – this despite containing future classics like "Famous Blue Raincoat" and "Joan of Arc." CBS was ready to cut their losses and drop him from the label. A tour would give him the chance to regain some momentum, though Cohen hated performing live; he only reluctantly agreed to a one-month run in Europe because Songs of Love and Hate found a much bigger audience there than in the States. "He endlessly said that he didn't want to tour," says filmmaker Tony Palmer. "It had nothing do with him, he said. He was a poet, first and foremost."The rock documentary was still in its infancy, but Palmer had chronicled Cream's farewell show at the Royal Albert Hall three years earlier. He was also a huge Cohen fan, and showed up to a meeting at the office of the musician's manager, Marty Machat, clutching a copy of the Canadian icon's poetry book The Energy of Slaves. He didn't realize he had been summoned to create a tour documentary – what would become Bird on a Wire, a legendary lost film that would exist only in bootleg form until 2010, when it was painstakingly pieced together from raw footage. Nearly 40 years later, Palmer's chronicle of what would become one of Cohen's most legendary run of shows is finally getting an audience. Rolling Stone
Dish: Women, Waitressing & the Art of Service From Toronto’s diners to Montreal’s “sexy restos,” Paris’s haute eateries to Tokyo’s fantasy “maid cafés,” waitresses around the world dish the dirt on gender, power and the art of service.
Last Men in Aleppo As the Syrian conflict intensifies, residents of Aleppo prepare for a siege, becoming increasingly reliant on the selfless bravery of the White Helmets, a volunteer search-and-rescue group risking their lives to save others.