We like free entertainment. We also like HotDocs, Toronto’s annual documentary film festival and self-proclaimed largest documentary film festival in North America (beginning this year on April 29). Yesterday, HotDocs went and combined both of those things by launching an online doc library, financed with a little help from the Department of Canadian Heritage. We say this completely without irony: your tax dollars at work.
The doc library is clearly (hopefully) still in development, and suffers from some of the clunkiness common to new web services. It’s missing some obvious features, like comments (though yesterday’s press release from HotDocs says they’re in the pipeline). Also, the site’s search feature is only available in an annoyingly designed flash-only mode. In plain HTML, users can only browse by title or by using prefabricated playlists.
Even more frustrating, the site lacks an “embed” button—which is why this article is completely devoid of video inclusions. HotDocs! Come on. This is basic stuff. Nobody clicks text links to off-site videos. Even the National Film Board has embed buttons.
But let’s put that no-clicks theory to the test. Here are some particularly excellent selections from the initial crop of HotDocs doc library videos:
- I, Curmudgeon and Lovable are parts two and three of a trilogy, in which local documentarian Alan Zweig dissects his own bitter, reclusive persona for the camera. I, Curmudgeon includes stellar interviews with notable curmudgeons, like Harvey Pekar.
- Let’s All Hate Toronto is a feature-length look at the national culture of antipathy towards Toronto, in the form of a road movie.
- Geddy Lee at Massey Hall is a short, featuring reminiscences from the lead singer of Rush, directed by Bruce McDonald, who also directed Hard Core Logo, and, more recently, Pontypool.
- SPIT: Squeegee Punks in Traffic. We haven’t seen this one, but the name is promising.
At the time of this writing, the site seems to be experiencing some kind of post-launch slowdown, which is making it impossible to load videos, but if that’s not the case for you, and you see something you like, why not link to it in the comments?