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