The elite of the documentary film world gathered this morning at Revival for a press conference announcing the lineup of this year’s Hot Docs festival. It’s a powerhouse program, which TVO’s Rudy Buttingnol attributes to the filmmakers and the growing importance of the medium. “Documentaries are helping change the way people think,” says Buttingnol, who will also receive the inaugural Outstanding Industry Achievement Award. “Just look at how governments around the world are now trying to address the problem of the environment…I can’t help but think documentaries had something to do with it.”
Hot Docs’ Director of Programming Sean Farnel agrees that documentaries are an effective agent for social change, but says that while the programmers’ main mission is to look for “potent stories that look like they were ripped from the headlines, we also want to be open to mischief…[we want] to have funny stories and romantic stories.”
Farnel also says that another programming aim was “to bring a sense of the local” to the festival. Canada is very well represented at this year’s fest, with 22 films. And Toronto documentarians, like Garine Torossian and first-time filmmaker Simone Chichester, have a strong presence in the program. But the GTA is itself a star at Hot Docs 2007. The city features prominently in not one, not two, but three films: Arturo Perez Torres’ City Idol (with our own boy reporter Ron Nurwisah); Derrick Roemer and Neil Graham’s tale of gentrification, Last Call at the Gladstone Hotel; and Albert Nerenberg and Rob Spence’s Let’s All Hate Toronto, which is a funny film about how everybody else in the country despises us. They’re just jealous because we’re so cool and have lots of film festivals.
This particular Festival kicks off on April 19 with the Canadian Premiere of David Sington’s In the Shadow of the Moon. Other highlights include John Philp’s look at the commercialization of the downward dog, Yoga Inc.; Nanking, Dan Sturman and Bill Guttentag’s exposé of Japanese atrocities during WWII; and the Canadian/Australian co-production Manufacturing Dissent—an unblinking look at the tactics of filmmaker Michael Moore.
Schedules are online now at www.hotdocs.ca. You can also purchase your tickets online, by phone at 416-588-8DOC, or at the CBC Newsworld Advance Box Office (581 Bloor St. West). Single tickets are $10, a 10-ticket pass is $80, and entry to all screenings is $150. All daytime screenings are free for students and seniors (with valid ID).
Photo by hellembry from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.