Starting this week at the TIFF Bell Lightbox is the documentary that caused quite the splash at this year’s Hot Docs film festival, “Blackfish”. When director Gabriela Cowperthwaite began investigating the death of a trainer who was dragged to her death during a “Dine with Shamu” show at SeaWorld, she soon found the initial story gave way to a far more shocking and further-reaching situation that plumbed the depths of a billion-dollar industry.
Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite
A killer whale linked to three trainer deaths over two decades, Tilikum is the backbone of the story presented in Blackfish. However, Cowperthwaite discovered it wasn’t just this particular whale; there have been multiple cases of Orca attacks on trainers in parks around the world, although never in the wild. Featuring testimonies from experts and trainers, and with never-before-seen footage, (more…)
The seaside town of Oxnard, California, was shattered in 2008 by the shooting death of Lawrence “Larry” King, a 15-year-old biracial, gay/transgendered student. Who was the killer? Larry’s 14-year-old classmate crush Brandon McInerney. The question became was this a hate crime, a retaliation against unwanted advance or something much more complex? Did flamboyant Larry, who liked to crochet, wear makeup and don heels, push his attacker, an emerging white supremacist, over the edge with his advances? It sure made for catchy headlines and drew attention to the plight of LGBT teens, as well as the overwhelmed educational and juvenile justice systems.
Director: Marta Cunningham
Valentine Road is a masterfully crafted documentary and one of the highlights of this year’s Hot Docs lineup. The film manages to be heart wrenching, maddeningly infuriating and inspirational all at the same time. (more…)
Hot Docs 2013: 5 Films that need your attention
With Hot Docs in full swing starting today after last night’s gala premiere of “The Manor”, here’s a quick checklist of 5 films that should not be missed. With the over 100 films playing this year this is far from a comprehensive list of the best films overall, but these are some definite winners.
With his new documentary “Downloaded” having it’s Hot Docs debut tonight, Alex Winter has finally graduated from being Bill from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” into a seriously talented documentarian with a sharp eye for story and humor. The film is a rousing crowd pleaser and one of the most sought after tickets from this year’s fest. I got to sit down with Mr. Winter for a brief Q&A about the film.
Movie Junkie TO (MJ) -Thanks for taking some timeout to speak with me today Alex. I got to see the film the other day and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I was working in a music store when the Napster thing exploded so I had a very personal relationship to what I was seeing. What was your introduction to the story and how did you get involved in telling this story? (more…)
Director: Alex Winter
In 1998, teenage hacker Shawn Fanning cracked the code that enabled peer-to-peer file sharing online. In 1999, he partnered with his friend and fellow teen Sean Parker (later of Facebook fame) to launch a little service known as Napster. The music-sharing website transformed not only the music industry, but technology as a whole. It sparked a revolution and became the touchstone of a new, digital generation. Filmmaker Alex Winter is granted near unlimited access to Fanning and his collaborators, as well as to a roster of famous musicians including (more…)
The time has finally arrived and Toronto yet again will bask in the documentary glow that the Hot Docs Film Festival radiates every year. This year will mark the 20th edition of the now legendary festival and features a very strong line up, perhaps one of the strongest of all of it’s editions. Here’s reviews of 4 of the festival’s films, with more to come.
The coverage on Examiner for Hot Docs 2103 (more…)
Meet Pussy Riot, the feminist punk collective that’s openly challenging the Russian Orthodox Church and President Vladimir Putin. They became infamous for invading the altar of St. Christ Church in Moscow and shocking worshipers with a raunchy song about a sexual coupling between Putin and the church. Three members of the collective were sentenced to three years in a penal colony. Such harsh punishment for a little disorderly conduct served as a clear demonstration of the church’s influence on the state and the state’s influence on the judiciary and brought Pussy Riot global attention.
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer
Directed by Maxim Pozdorovkin and Mike Lerner
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.
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…)
This month’s Doc Soup presentation from the venerable Hot Docs programmers is The House I Live In. The award winner from this year’s Sundance Film Festival makes its Toronto premiere with 3 showings at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, on Wednesday December 5th at 6:30 and 9:15 and Thursday the 6th at 6:45. The House I Live In is a detailed look at the war on drugs in the US, but from the other side of the coin.
The House I Live in
Written by Eugene Jarecki and Christopher St John
Directed by Eugene Jarecki
In America a war is raging, not just overseas but at home as well, costing countless lives, destroying families, and inflicting untold damage on future generations. For (more…)