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Hot Docs 2013: Dayani Cristal and Muscle Shoals


Hot Docs is upon us again! The 2013 edition marks the 20th edition and it looks to be one of the strongest lineups ever. Here is a couple of the films playing over the 11 days of the festival.

Who_Is_Dayani_Cristal_4.470x264Who is Dayani Cristal?

Director: Marc Silver

Arizona’s Sonora Desert, also known as the Corridor of Death, is the deadliest crossing point from Mexico into the United States. Each year, it claims the lives of many migrants. This time, the desert’s deathly sands reveal the body of a migrant with no identification. His body bears the tattoo “Dayani Cristal”, the solitary clue to his identity. Beginning in Honduras, Gael García Bernal begins a recreation of this man’s likely journey, traveling through Guatemala, Mexico and finally Arizona. Tracing the traveller’s likely footsteps, Bernal, along with a forensic team in Arizona who begin the identification and documentation of the man’s remains, methodically piece together his identity.

Who is Dayani Cristal is a hybrid documentary, juxtaposing the cinematic and fictional journey of Bernal against re-enactments of the real investigation into the Dayani Cristal case using interviews and reshot scenes with the actual people responsible. The film carries a slick, polished feel that pulls it away from the gritty realism of most documentaries that deal with grim subject matter like Dayani Cristal. Gael García Bernal’s journey is based on little evidence and features no grounds of the real journey of the John Doe at the center of the case, with a lot of the footage of him looking like a TV news magazine show re-enactment.

Who_Is_Dayani_Cristal_3.470x264Who is Dayani Cristal is a fascinating mystery and really shows a lot of information and will lead to much discussion over the entire border crossing process. But the film itself only works to a point as the more polished biopic feel will have the audience question whether the film qualifies as a documentary to begin with.


Sat, Apr 27 12:00 PM
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
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Mon, Apr 29 4:00 PM
Isabel Bader Theatre
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Sun, May 5 9:30 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
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Muscle_Shoals_1.470x264Muscle Shoals 

Director: Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier

Tucked along the Tennessee River, the town of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, barely registers on a map. But thanks to one visionary record producer and a group of unknown session musicians, the tiny backwater changes the course of modern music. At the heart of this fascinating history lesson is Rick Hall, founder of FAME Studios. Together with a predominantly white studio band, dubbed ‘The Swampers’, Rick develops what will be called the deep, soulful “Muscle Shoals sound”. It’s the sound that reinvents the work of legends like Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett to Mick Jagger and Gregg Allman. More inspiring still, Hall and The Swampers create a space where black and white artists work seamlessly together, just down the road from Alabama’s burning racial crisis.

The Muscle Shoals story has taken a long journey to get to the screen due to the bitter split between Rick and The Swampers after the group decide to strike out on their own with the backing of Atlantic Records top man Jerry Wexler. But for people that have waited for this story to be told and have been fans of the brilliant music made in Muscle Shoals, this film delivers exactly what you want. A little long in nature, this story has a lot to tell, and dense with information, the film delivers great music and fascinating stories. Rick Hall admission and telling of how he missed out on the whole southern rock movement despite employing one of its pioneers is fascinating.

Muscle_Shoals_2.470x264For lovers of the great records that came out of Muscle Shoals this documentary is a must. The casual viewer will get a lot out of the characters and the energy, but could find the film a little long winded.


Tue, Apr 30 9:15 PM
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
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Fri, May 3 6:15 PM
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Rush Tickets
Sat, May 4 9:00 PM
Isabel Bader Theatre
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4 responses

  1. Pingback: Hot Docs 2013: Mini Reviews Part 1 | MOVIE JUNKIE TO'S Entertainment Fix

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  3. Pingback: Hot Docs 2013: Essential Viewing ‘Valentine Road’ | MOVIE JUNKIE TO'S Entertainment Fix

  4. Pingback: Hidden Gem ‘Graceland’ graces the TIFF Bell Lightbox | MOVIE JUNKIE TO'S Entertainment Fix

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