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culture

Hot Docs Daily: Big Boys Gone Bananas!*, Dreams of a Life, China Heavyweight

What to see today at Hot Docs.

We’ve got big love for today’s slate of Hot Docs screenings, which includes two of our favourite selections of the fest, as well as the snappily-titled Swedish doc Big Boys Gone Bananas!* (). That film, by Fredrik Gretten, screens just once (5:30 p.m., The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema), but is worth adding to your schedule, particularly if you appreciated Shadows of Liberty, one of last week’s recommendations.

Like Shadows of Liberty, a mass-media exposé, Gretten’s David-and-Goliath tale addresses the reluctance of corporate-controlled media to bite the hand that feeds. In this case, the entity doing the feeding is produce giant Dole, which launched a lawsuit in a bid to ban Bananas!*, Gretten’s 2009 doc about the exploitation of workers at Dole’s Ecuadorian plantation. Gretten’s new film looks at the legal fight surrounding its predecessor. It follows the filmmaker as he struggles to assert his freedom of expression, while U.S. media outlets prove quick to toe Dole’s line.

You’ll need to join a line of a different sort if you hope to nab rush tickets to tonight’s Canadian debut of Dreams of a Life (, 9:45 p.m., The Royal Cinema), but we certainly suggest you do.

From filmmaker Carol Morley, this docudrama is a deeply absorbing portrait of Joyce Vincent, a 38-year-old Londoner whose lonely demise in 2003 would become a tragic tabloid curiosity. Despite being remembered by friends as a vivacious aspiring singer, the fact of Vincent’s death went undiscovered for over two years, until housing authorities entered her flat and discovered her skeletal remains. Employing interviews and impressionistic reconstructions, Morley poignantly ponders how a well-liked young woman came to find herself cut so desperately adrift.

Today’s third pick also comes very highly recommended, although scoring tickets to the stunning China Heavyweight () shouldn’t pose a problem. That’s because tonight’s 9 p.m. screening at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema will also be simulcast to Cineplex cinemas across Canada, including several within the GTA. You’ll have the chance to see Yung Chang’s follow-up to 2007′s Up The Yangtze at both the Scotiabank Theatre and the Sheppard Grande as part of Hot Docs Live!—a new initiative aimed at winning wider exposure for fest selecitons. We can think of few films more deserving than this lyrically-observed boxing opus.

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

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