What to see today at Hot Docs.
After kicking off last night with the excellent opener Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (), Hot Docs hits its stride today with its first full slate of screenings. And to help you make the most of your vérité viewing experience, we bring you the first instalment of Hot Docs Daily—our picks of the cream of the festival’s daily crop.
While we haven’t yet had a chance to screen Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War (3 p.m., The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema), we have it on good authority that it deserves your urgent attention. We also gather that it’s guaranteed to leave you furious, though that didn’t prevent Sundance audiences from naming it the festival’s top U.S. documentary.
The title of Dick’s exposé refers to an epidemic of rape within the U.S. military, which has become so prevalent that it’s now more likely for a servicewoman to be sexually assaulted by a fellow soldier than it is for her to be killed by an enemy combatant. Dick also reveals a shameful culture of systemic cover-ups, and policies that effectively blame victims, who are without recourse to extra-military redress.
If you’re in search of a Hot Docs selection less likely to make your blood boil, we also recommend Helena Třeštíková’s Private Universe (, 6 p.m., TIFF Bell Lightbox 3), which spans a remarkable 37 years in the life of a Czech family. Like a non-fiction companion piece to Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life, it juxtaposes modest family milestones against momentous events, as Třeštíková charts Czechoslovakia’s transition from dictatorship to democracy.
Returning to the theme of abuse of power, Back to the Square (, 6:15 p.m., Isabel Bader Theatre) highlights the ongoing struggles of ordinary Egyptians in the wake of last year’s revolution. Despite President Hosni Mubarak’s departure, Peter Lom’s subjects lament that police corruption and official repression have persisted, or, in some instances, intensified.
For our full index of festival reviews, head over to our handy Hot Docs hub.