Despite what the weather networks may say, spring does not officially start for us until Hot Docs opens its doors. Running from April 28 to May 8, Hot Docs, the largest documentary film festival in the world, has a strong tradition of showcasing some of the most though-provoking, entertaining, and often groundbreaking non-fiction films to hit the big screen. Past films to screen at the festival include What Happened, Miss Simone?; The Cove; Listen to Me Marlon; Virunga; The Invisible War; Inocente; Senna; and Cutie and the Boxer to name a few.
Featuring 232 films from 51 countries, Hot Docs is the ultimate buffet for documentary film lovers. While it is hard to go wrong with any of the titles, here are 10 films screening at Hot Docs that we think you should see:
The Pearl of Africa
Uganda currently has some of the strictest anti-LGBT laws in the world. Jonny von Wallström’s film looks at one transgendered woman’s fight to live and love in the face of systemic hatred and ignorance.
Screens: Saturday, Apr 30, 9:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox; Sunday, May 1, 11:30 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox; Sunday, May 8, 3:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Taking back the night on the gritty streets of East Los Angeles, a group of women embody the essence of feminism by forming a bicycle brigade which not only inspires other women, but seeks to change their impoverished community for the better.
Screens: Saturday, Apr 30, 9:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre; Monday, May 2, 3:00 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox; Friday, May 6, 9:30 PM Scotiabank Theatre
How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change)
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox returns with a sprawling environmental investigation that spans 12 countries on six continents. Exploring the level of ecological abuse around the globe, Fox constructs a personal look at the damage already done to our planet.
Screens: Monday, May 2, 9:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox; Wednesday, May 4, 12:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox; Saturday, May 7, 9:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
“Competitive endurance tickling”…this is all you need to know about this entertaining and surprising film. Do not read any reviews prior to seeing the film, just sit back and enjoy the wild ride.
Screens: Saturday, Apr 30, 9:45 PM, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema; Monday, May 2, 10:30 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere
While the feature length films tend to get a lot of press, there are plenty of short films at Hot Docs worthy of your attention. One such film is this unconventional tale about the unluckiest horse in Japan’s equestrian sports history.
Screens (w/Up or Out): Wednesday, May 4, 7:00 PM, Scotiabank Theatre; Thursday, May 5, 9:15 PM, Scotiabank Theatre; Sunday, May 8, 9:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
The Infinite Flight of Days
The rich history of a small Colombian village, named Jericó, is shown through the eyes of the elder women in the community. Offering a poetic and intimate examination of love, loss, and more, the lives of its inhabitants are as hypnotic as the village itself.
Screens: Monday, May 2, 6:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox; Wednesday, May 4, 1:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre; Sunday, May 8, 4:15 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
Years after being forced into sexual slavery as “comfort women” by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War, a group of women, now in their 80’s and 90’s, attempt to get an official apology from a reluctant Japanese government. Tiffany Hsiung’s film examines that lasting impact this dark period in Japan’s history had on the women and how they have found the strength to move on.
Screens: Saturday, Apr 30, 6:30 PM, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema; Sunday, May 1, 10:30 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox; Sunday, May 8, 12:45 PM, Isabel Bader Theatre
How to Build a Time Machine
Jay Cheel’s much anticipated sophomore film follows two men whose lives were greatly impacted by personal tragedy and H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine.
Screens: Monday, May 2, 6:30 PM, Isabel Bader Theatre; Tuesday, May 3, 10:00 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox; Saturday, May 7, 8:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
God Knows Where I Am
Shining light on the mysterious death of Linda Bishop, God Knows Where I Am examines the issue of mental illness and the ways in which the healthcare system is failing those it is designed to help.
Screens: Saturday, Apr 30, 9:15 PM, Scotiabank Theatre; Monday, May, 2 12:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox; Saturday, May 7, 9:30 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
League of Exotique Dancers
Acclaimed director Rama Rau’s latest work celebrates the pioneers and icons of the glory days of the burlesque industry. Bringing many of the stars out of retirement for one more performance, the film offers a look at performers whose independent spirits has paved the way for a whole new generation of women.
Screens: Thursday, Apr 28 9:45 PM Bloor Hot Docs Cinema; Friday, Apr 29, 1:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Visit us next week for reviews of these films and more as we dive into all things Hot Docs. For the full list of films screening, schedules, and ticket information, be sure to visit the Hot Docs website.