With subjects ranging from political dissidents to a penis museum, the festival's 19th edition will feature its broadest international lineup to date.
Perpetually in the shadow of its flashier, fiction-friendly cousin, Hot Docs remains something of a hidden gem, despite its stature as North America’s largest documentary film festival. Certainly, though, whatever it might lack in TIFF’s style and star power, it more than compensates with the terrific substance of its programming. Hot Docs’ 2012 edition (April 26 to May 6) looks set to continue that tradition, and will feature the festival’s broadest international lineup to date.
At a press conference held this morning at the recently renovated Bloor Cinema—now the festival’s year-round home—director of programming Charlotte Cook announced a slate of 189 selections from a record 51 countries. “This is a big year for Hot Docs. With a new cinema we are committing more so than ever to documentary film as a force to be reckoned with,” she commented in a statement released by the festival. “With the largest country representation the Festival has ever had, we will be hearing many new voices from all over the world. It’s wonderful to be able to bring such a great range of films to Toronto audiences, to champion documentary in a city that truly supports documentary as an art form.”
As ever, the subject matter represented across the festival’s 11 screening programs is as diverse as the various films’ countries of origin. The festival kicks off with Alison Klayman’s Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, about the renowned dissident artist and his recent, high-profile run-ins with China’s ruling regime. Meanwhile, in Indie Game: The Movie, from James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot, the tyrannical ruling regime is Microsoft. This Sundance award-winner documents the trials and tribulations of key up-and-comers on the flourishing independent video game scene, including the developers of Xbox LIVE Arcade hits Braid and Super Meat Boy.
Of the festival’s Canadian offerings, we’d be lying if we claimed not to be a tad curious about The Final Member, by directors Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math, which chronicles the curatorial endeavours of Iceland’s penis museum. And thanks to experimental General Hospital exposé Francophrenia (Or: Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is), by Ian Olds and James Franco (yes, that one), this year’s festival just might threaten TIFF’s monopoly on mega-star attendees.
Clearly, that’s just a small sampling of what looks to be another promising Hot Docs lineup (the full schedule is available here), but we’ll be back in the coming weeks with extensive festival preview coverage. In the meantime, passes and individual tickets are now available at the festival box office (783 Bathurst Street), and online.