It’s 2010 and indie rock band The National is set to embark on their largest international tour to date. Enter lead singer ’s younger brother Tom, a wannabe horror filmmaker with aspirations to make a documentary film about the band. Starting out with large ambition and grand ideas, and starting with Matt’s full support, it’s not long before Tom’s tour roadie position is hanging by a thread due to his constant by slacking off on the job, getting drunk and overall lack of ability. What starts out as a candid music doc ends up going in a completely different direction, delivering an earnest, behind-the-scenes look at Tom’s endeavours and subsequent departure, but the question becomes will Tom be able to salvage his film?
Mistaken for Strangers may be one of the best stories about brothers captured on film. Tom may not have started out wanting to include himself into the film, but eventually his own antics and screw ups became too difficult for the director to ignore and he discovered the real film within his footage. This discovery also plays out over the course of the film’s last act, a rare glimpse into what goes into developing a film beyond the filming stages.
A Story of Children and Film is a documentary by Mark Cousins which explores the history of cinema and the roles that child actors have had in it. The film uses an interesting approach that utilizes a magnitude of different movies dating back to the earliest era and cinema and reaching all the way across different parts of the world. Cousins also intercut footage he took of niece and nephew and contrasts it to the films he’s talking about creating the actual narrative of the documentary. Aside from the footage that he took, and a few brief shots at the end of the piece, a majority of the film is footage from other movies with Cousins narration.
The topic that the A Story of Children and Film explores is not a commonly covered one, so Cousins does a good job at breaking new ground and exploring the various aspects of it. However, the films biggest downfall is its narration which is done by the director himself. Some filmmakers can pull off narrating their own films, however Cousins done so in the most monotone way imaginable. It can only be assumed that this is done intentionally with an attempt to speak in a somewhat poetic way; however it can often feel dry and boring at times. The footage really is the essential attention grabber in the documentary, and it becomes really interesting to see how the earliest pieces of cinema have had an ever growing influence on the most modern films released. Cousins goes on to point out that cinema is one of the newest art forms and that it is almost a child itself, something not often thought about considering how young of an art form film really is. Instead of simply narrating the entire piece, real life footage of family members was used to flow from topic to topic, thus removing the choppiness that a documentary like this could have easily fallen victim to.
The underdog sports story is one of the oldest tales in film. This is the one where the athlete that nobody believed in eventually proves everyone wrong to roaring applause. Such is the true life story of professional basketball player and overnight sensation, Jeremy Lin. Lin grew up living a normal life, idolizing his favourite basketball players on TV, and mimicking their moves on the courts with his brothers. He would time and time again prove he was an exceptional player but was often passed over because he didn’t look like a traditional basketball star.
Evan Leong’s Linsanity focuses on the meteoric rise of Jeremy Lin and chronicles his early childhood memories while paralleling it with Lin’s current NBA stardom. The documentary does a great job of capturing the real Jeremy Lin, and getting a first-hand account from the star himself, which reveals the very personal and spiritual journey that the basketball sensation has been on since his youth. The strongest aspect of the film is that it doesn’t just gear itself towards basketball fans; it instead opts for a broader approach making it accessible and fun to watch for everyone. Even someone who has never sat and watched an entire basketball game will stay engaged in the film throughout. .
Starting today, Mar 8 2013, at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema is the new documentary focusing on the politically charged singer songwriters of the 1960’s and early 1970’s that called Greenwich Village home, “Greenwich Village: Music that Defined a Generation”. The epicenter of the folk music movement of the 60’s, hundreds of acts grew from the streets of Greenwich to conquer the world. Director Laura Archibald is clearly a large fan and enamored of these artists and their achievements as the entire tale is seen form the one side that is the artist’s themselves.
Greenwich Village: Music that Defined a Generation
Narration by Susan Sarandon
Written by Laura Archibald, Rob Lindsay and Kevin Wallis based on the novel by Suzie Rotolo
Directed by Laura Archibald
In the 1960s and early 1970s, Greenwich Village attracted numerous artists and activists. This creative and politically (more…)
Starting a 2 show run, Mar 2and Mar 3 2013, at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema is the newdocumentary exploring the life of the comedian nicknamed “The Bitter Buddha” of the title, Eddie Pepitone. The documentary explores the life and performances of the now 54 year old comic who has been doing stand-up, working the clubs and road, without the break out success that other comedians that adore what he does feel he deserves.
The Bitter Buddha
Starring Eddie Pepitone
Directed by Steven Feinartz
February’s Doc Soup presentation at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema brings us drama on the high seas with the award winning documentary “Stolen Seas”. The documentary explores the Somali pirate phenomenon, how the pirates get away with all the damage they inflict and the impact on all of those involved.
Written by Mark Monroe
Directed by Thymaya Payne
“Stolen Seas” is in essence the story of a Danish shipping vessel’s 13-man crew held at the mercy of pirates, but the film goes much further than this singular story. It’s November 8th, 2008 and the CEC Future is on high alert. Sailing inside the pirate-infested swath of sea between Somalia and Yemen (more…)
The Waiting Room
Directed by Peter Nicks
Today (Friday, Jan 18), the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema begins an exclusive run of another of its 2012 festival favorites, The Waiting Room. When the shortlist of documentaries up for nomination for this year’s Academy Awards was released back in early December, director Peter Nicks found his film among the contenders. And even though it did not make the cut the film was in the mix for a reason, the day in the life of a U.S. hospital is an impactful and insightful piece of film making.
The Waiting Room is a riveting day in the life of an Oakland, California, public hospital’s overtaxed emergency room. The purely observational character-driven documentary expertly weaves the stories of several patients, most of them are uninsured, and who come to the inner-city facility because they have nowhere else to go. (more…)
Back in 1989 a horrendous attack in New York’s Iconic Central Park shocked New Yorkers and captivated people worldwide. The attack and the following investigation involving corruption, deceit and intrigue has become the stuff of legend. Documentarian master Ken Burns teams up with his daughter and son in-law to tell the story of the 5 teenagers convicted and jailed for the crime, and their journey to redemption, in “The Central Park 5”. Starting Christmas Day, The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto begins an exclusive theatrical run of the film with additional screenings over the next 2 ½ weeks.
The Central Park Five
Written and Directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon
With the holiday season fast approaching, the fine folks at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema have decided that with all the holiday themed options around the city they would offer up some cinematic counter programming. Starting Friday December 14th the cinema starts an exclusive run of the Hot Docs festival alumnus “Meet the Fokkens”. The seemingly innocent documentary based on a pair of 69 year old twin ladies living in Amsterdam might even remind you of your own lovely grandmother. Until you find out that the pair has been working the notorious Red-Light district of Amsterdam for over 40 years! And one of them is still active today!
Meet the Fokkens
Starring Louise and Martine Fokkens
Written and Directed by Gabrielle Provaas and Rob Schroder
“Meet the Fokkens” follows Louise and Martine as they go about their daily routines, (more…)
After a triumphant set of screenings at this year’s Hot Docs Film Festival this past April, Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet makes it return to Toronto screens when it starts Friday Dec 12th at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Not Dead Yet is the inspirational story of one man’s fight and struggle to continue making music after a debilitating disease strikes him down at a young age.
Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet
Starring : Jason Becker
Directed by Jesse Vile
Jason Becker was already a gifted musician before he hit his teens. In 1989 when doctors diagnosed the then 19 year old with Lou Gehrig’s disease (aka ALS) he was an international virtuoso about to join David Lee Roth as lead guitarist for Van Halen. He had also released a solo album and a debut album (more…)
The Fruit Hunters (2012)
Written by Yung Chang and Mark Slutsky – based on the book by Adam Gollner
Directed by Yung Chang
After a highly successful Toronto debut screening as part of last week’s Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival Richmond Hill program, Yung Chang’s The Fruit Hunters starts an exclusive engagement this weekend at the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema. The film about people obsessed with seeking out and growing exotic fruits from around the world spans the globe in search of these hidden treats and director Chang introduces us to people of all nationalities. From the South American trying to save the banana business from extinction to the Hollywood celebrity trying to launch a community orchard in the Hollywood Hills, we are invited into all of these stories through Chang’s lens.
The Fruit Hunters is indeed a globetrotting tour of places with the (more…)
Here is my latest guest spot on the Dead Air podcast!! This time we launch into out Toronto After Dark 2102 Preview!! We do a day by day rundown of the ENTIRE lineup! So join Jeff Konopka, Shawn Savage and myself as we count down all the reasons you need to see the fest!! And last but not least the Pub After Dark Pub Nights!!! And if you see Jeff and me around the pub come say hi, or better yet buy us a beer! 🙂
Written and Directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
The once bustling city of Detroit is a shadow of its former self. Starting back in 2010 when the economic downturn was in full swing, Detroit went from downturn to depression in a heartbeat. With the closures of local automobile production plants, the heart of Detroit’s manufacturing industry, other key business people started leaving Detroit in droves. Once one of the fastest growing cities in the world, Detroit now ranks among the highest cities in lost population over the last couple of years. While the families have moved on, the younger generation of bloggers and performance artist have now claimed it due to cheaper housing and access.
Detropia starts before the economic buyouts that turned around the auto industry in Detroit. These were the leanest of days, focusing on the few that stayed fighting and trying to rally the…
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The Story of Film: An Odyssey
Written and Directed by Mark Cousins
Last year Mark Cousins in conjunction with the BBC brought us a 15 part epic series entitled The Story of Film: An Odyssey. Starting last weekend and continuing through to November The Hot Docs Bloor Cinema is presenting the entire series in 2 part chunks on Sunday nights with replays on Tues nights, only taking a break to present the Toronto After Dark Film Festival in late October. Starting from back at the turn of the 20th century, The Story of Film attempts to present the most complete version of the history of film production put forward. Not content to just focus on the Hollywood scene, Cousins spans the globes for the most influential films and filmmakers of their time and presents their stories in detail.
The first two episodes cover the start of film, from the…
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