The 26th annual edition of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival will showcase 234 documentaries from 56 countries. We are like kids in a candy store as we sift through the list of thought-provoking films that we know will inspire many conversations. The largest North American documentary festival will run April 25 to May 5 in various locations.
Here is what’s already catching our attention. Our 10 must-see films at this year’s Hot Docs.
nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up: Directed by Tasha Hubbard, Canada, World Premiere. Opening Night film
Colten Boushie, a young Cree man from Saskatchewan, was killed on Gerald Stanley’s farm in 2016. Stanley was not found guilty and the verdict drew national attention. Filmmaker Tasha Hubbard examines centuries of injustice to to the First Nations people and tells the family’s story in pursuit of justice.
GORDON LIGHTFOOT: IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND: Directed by Joan Tosoni and Martha Kehoe, Canada, World Premiere.
Canadian musician and icon Gordon Lightfoot is the focus on this documentary that shares stories about his career, songwriting, and his love for Toronto. At 80 years old, Lightfoot is current recording another album. This is an intimate look at his life long career.
TOXIC BEAUTY: Directed by Phyllis Ellis, Canada, World Premiere
It’s a multi-billion dollar industry but how do companies get away their claims? With Whistleblower Deane Berg, along with Dr. Daniel Cramer of the Harvard Cancer Center and Dr. Ami Zota of George Washington University, join Toxic director Phyllis Ellis to discuss the public heath risks of the beauty products we use daily and the explosive lawsuit that’s bringing them to light. In addition, a young medical student who uses more than 27 mainstream beauty products each morning in her routine. What happens when she switches over to “green” products?
PUSH: Directed by Fredrik Gertten, Sweden, North American Premiere
As skyrocketing housing prices and stagnant incomes squeeze families out of cities worldwide, a newly appointed UN specialist from Ottawa travels from Toronto to Barcelona to London and beyond, fighting to have affordable housing recognized as a human right.
OUR DANCE REVOLUTION: Directed by Phillip Pike, Canada, World Premiere.
The untold story of Toronto’s Black queer community and the history of struggle and triumph from four decades of local legends and freedom fighters.
THE REST: Directed by Ai Weiwei, Germany, North American Premiere
From Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei comes a powerful work that follows the daily lives of refugees in Europe as they hang in limbo between a disintegrating humanitarian aid system and intensifying nationalism.
WILLIE: Directed by Laurence Mathieu-Leger. USA & Canada. World Premiere
In 1958, Willie O’Ree broke the colour barrier in hockey and went on to become an inspiration for generations of players. Director Laurence Mathieu-Leger and some very special guests to discuss his remarkable life and career and his dedication to eradicating racism in the sport he loves.
THE WANDERING CHEF: Directed by Hye-Ryeong Park, South Korea, World Premiere
In this heartwarming ode to family and the healing power of food, Korean celebrity chef Jiho Im mourns the death of a beloved maternal figure in the only way he knows how: cooking 108 delectable dishes over 24 hours.
PROPAGANDA: THE ART OF SELLING LIES: Directed by Larry Weinstein, Canada Germany, World Premiere
In our world of “fake news” media outlets are becoming more polarized. From ancient cave drawings to the unbridled stabs of Twitter, every form of media has been exploited in order to sway, awe and intimidate. The intellect is relegated to a distant second place to raw emotion that is fueled by sinister threats and unrealistic promises. Propaganda has been at times relatively innocuous, but at others powerful and deadly, especially in the hands of the most infamously demonic demagogues through the ages. Contemporary artists including Ken Monkman, Shepard Fairey and Ai Weiwei analyze their political charged work in this film.
NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY: Directed by Elizabeth Carroll, USA, International Premiere
This biographical documentary about 94 year old James Beard Award-winning food writer and foremost authority on Mexican cuisine. People often refer to her as the Julia Child of Mexico, but Diana prefers an edgier given title: “the Mick Jagger of Mexican Cooking”. She lives on her own, completely off-the-grid in the sustainable mountains of Michoacán, Mexico in a solar powered house. she designed and built in the mid 1970s. She recycles rainwater, uses virtually no electricity, and produces almost zero waste. Between her gigantic gardens and a fruit orchard, she grows vegetables, citrus, corn, and her own coffee, which she roasts herself.
The full line up of films screenings can be found at www.hotdocsfestival.ca