Hot Docs 2013's lineup runs the gamut from strip clubs to women's rights scholarship, and from James Franco to Richard Dawkins.
“Hot Docs is no longer a teenager.” That’s how Hot Docs Director of Programming Charlotte Cook characterizes this year’s edition of the festival, which begins on April 25. It’s an apt analogy, both because Hot Docs is now in its 20th season and because of the documentary fest’s rapid expansion and maturation into a Toronto cultural juggernaut.
This year’s Hot Docs lineup, announced at a press conference earlier today, features over 200 films (culled from a record number of submissions, including over 300 from Canada alone), ranging from shorts to medium- and full-length features. The proceedings will kick off on opening night with The Manor, a portrait of director Shawney Cohen’s family business: a strip club in Guelph, purchased by his father 30 years ago. Cohen told reporters this morning, without a trace of irony, that “there’s a beautiful message in this story.”
The rest of the Hot Docs program isn’t wanting for engaging subject matter, either. Not interested in extreme geographers and biologists in the Arctic (Expedition to the Edge of the World)? Perhaps stunt bikers in Baltimore might be more your speed (12 O’Clock Boys). If you require celebrity content in your provocation, there’s James Franco and Travis Mathews’ imagining of the deleted material from William Friedkin’s Cruising (Interior. Leather Bar.).
For the intellectual set, the trio of films making up this year’s Big Ideas series should provide more than adequate conversation fodder. Films focused on women’s-rights scholar Anita Hill (Anita), humanitarian/retired general Roméo Dallaire (Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children) and controversial scientists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss (The Unbelievers) will, in all three cases, be accompanied by appearances from their subjects.
For full details on the Hot Docs lineup and schedule, head over to the official website. This year’s edition runs to May 5. For anyone looking to get their fest on early, the Hot Docs 20 series, which honors past favorites from previous editions, runs almost nightly at the Bloor Cinema until the fest begins, starting with a screening of Manufacturing Consent this Sunday, March 24, and culminating in an “audience choice” selection, screening on April 24.