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culture

Hot Docs Daily: Shadows of Liberty, Ping Pong, Brooklyn Castle

What to see today at Hot Docs.

In the dock and in the doc: News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch in a still from Shadows of Liberty.

Despite its midday time slot, Friday’s world premiere of Jean-Philippe Tremblay’s Shadows of Liberty () played to a packed house at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, and eager festival-goers have already snapped up all advance tickets for today’s second and final screening (4 p.m., TIFF Bell Lightbox 3). We’d nonetheless recommend braving the rush line, as Tremblay’s scathing media takedown couldn’t be more timely.

With the Leveson Inquiry currently investigating the sorry state of UK journalism in the wake of the News Corporation hacking scandal, the Canadian filmmaker sets his sights on America’s corporate media and reveals a similarly dysfunctional institution. Tremblay marshalls a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that government deregulation has paved the way for the perversion of the media’s newsgathering function, as ever-greater numbers of journalistic outlets are consumed by powerful, profit-minded mega-conglomerates.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Shadows of Liberty doesn’t portray 81-year-old News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch in a particularly positive light. So, in the interest of offering octogenarians a fair shake, we also recommend Hugh Hartford’s superb Ping Pong (), which makes its festival debut this afternoon (4 p.m., Isabel Bader Theatre). Hartford provides an inspiring profile of eight entrants at the international over-80s table tennis championships, each vying for what may well be their last shot at glory.

In contrast, the precocious subjects of Katie Dellamaggiore’s Brooklyn Castle (, 6:30 p.m., Cumberland 3) have defied the odds to achieve remarkable success at an early age. As students at New York City middle school IS 318, they represent one of the most dominant junior high chess programs in the United States, despite their largely underprivileged upbringings. Dellamaggiore’s engaging doc attributes IS 318′s winning tradition to its excellent after-school programs, and highlights the hard-fought efforts of the school’s administrators to maintain them amid sweeping cuts to education budgets.

For our full index of festival reviews, head over to our handy Hot Docs hub.

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