When we ran our Sprockets preview last week, we tried to give the piece a theme, and we couldn’t stick to it. In all honesty, we probably overstretched ourselves in trying to give a post on a children’s film festival a theme any grander than “children’s films,” and when you get down to it, why bother?
Trying to theme our introductory post to this year’s Hot Docs coverage, which will continue throughout the week, would be a fool’s game. Arguably the most important film festival in the city after TIFF, Hot Docs is ten days of documentaries (if we had a theme it would be “documentaries”) and when it comes down to it our main problem is only where to start.
Let’s just start with tonight’s flicks.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (pictured above) opens the festival at the Winter Garden Theatre at 7:00 p.m. and is (of course!) the story of the “demi-gods of Canadian metal” now in their 50s, as they set off on a calamitous European tour and prepare to record a new album. As Eye’s Marc Weisblott notes that the film “debuted in January at the Sundance Film Festival—without a bad review to show for it,” and still doesn’t, with positive previews from local reviewers, so you could do worse. Though you’ll be unlikely to score a ticket to the opening gala, Anvil! The Story of Anvil also shows Friday at 4:15 p.m. (at the Isabel Bader Theatre) and Sunday, Apr 27 at 9:00 p.m. (at the Royal).
Air India 182 continues the evening at the Winter Garden Theatre at 9:30 p.m. An exploration of the facts around the deadliest terror attack in Canadian history, this hasn’t been given as glowing a reception as Anvil!—in particular for director Sturla Gunnarsson’s decision to shoot several “dramatic reenactments.” NOW’s Norm Wilner feels that “these pantomimed sequences prove either redundant or inexplicably contradictory to the testimony.” Air India 182 also shows tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. (at the Isabel Bader Theatre).
Special note has to be made of the shorts that are accompanying the opening night films and other selected special presentations (though we can’t seem to ascertain which): Green Porno (at right), Isabella Rossellini’s series of shorts in which she shows us how bugs make love… By dressing up like bugs and acting it out. Sounds unmissable! We only worry about getting turned on in the cinema!
There are many more films on across the coming week that we’ll be checking out and reviewing. Here are our early picks:
Emoticons (Friday, 7:15 p.m.; Saturday, 12:00 p.m., 7:15 p.m.): Heddy Honigmann (who received Hot Docs’ Outstanding Achievement Award last year) examines the online lives of six teenage girls in the Netherlands.
Shadow Of The Holy Book (Sunday, 7:15 p.m.; Tuesday, 4:00 p.m.): Apparently, international corporations are translating Turkmenistan propaganda into their own language to continue working in Turkmenistan, despite, you know, all those pesky human rights violations and things like that. Arto Halonen and Kevin Frazier investigate.
Wesley Willis’s Joy Rides (pictured at right; Sunday, 9:45 p.m.; Tuesday, 11:45 p.m.): Suck a Cheetah’s Dick, because Birdman Kicked My Ass thanks to Casper The Friendly Homosexual Ghost… But that’s okay, because Jesus Is The Answer. If that made perfect sense to you, then you obviously know the works of Wesley Willis, which are just plain great. But haven’t you always wanted to know more about the man? Well now you can! (Hopefully.)
Mechanical Love (pictured above; Thursday April 24th, 7:00 p.m.; Saturday April 26th, 2:00 p.m.): People are developing robots to take care of us in the future when we are old, because we are too selfish to have children to do it instead. Phie Ambo has a look at where this is going.
That’s obviously only four films out of a ludicrous number; we haven’t mentioned in depth the Spotlight on Iran and Made in Mexico programmes, the retrospective Focus on Jennifer Baichwal, or even just any other of the many, many films that have caught our eye (Such as Carny, Planet B-Boy, Vesterbro, Second Skin… The list goes on) but you can find out more about the films at the Hot Docs website (including an excellent schedule) plus returning here for more coverage as the festival continues.
One thing worth noting before we let you go: Hot Docs is one of the best festivals in the city for viewers on a budget. Seniors and students can see daytime screenings (before 6 p.m.) for free. Daytime screenings in general are $10, Evening screenings only $12 and late night screenings (after 11 p.m.) are an astonishing $5 (you can see all 11 for only $10, too, which is some kind of crazy economy right there) so there’s really no excuse for not checking anything out. And remember, even if your planned screening is sold out, it’s worth your time to head along and join the rush queue.