Category Archives: Hot Docs

Diving into the Unknown 6 May 07

Hot Docs 2016: Diving into the Unknown

There is an undeniable tension within Juan Reina’s Diving into the Unknown that is both suffocating and exhilarating at the same time. The film is ultimately a tale of friendship and sacrifice but, at times, it could easily be viewed as a horror movie; one where nature is scarier than any boogeyman in the closet. […]


Hot Docs 2016: Urmila: My Memory is My Power

Sold into child slavery at the age of six by her impoverished family, Urmila Chaudhary’s life story is one of both pain and perseverance. It is the latter that anchors Susan Gluth’s inspirational film Urmila: My Memory is My Power. After enduring almost twelve years of slavery, Urmila has dedicated her life to helping to […]

No Man is an Island May 06

Hot Docs 2016: No Man is an Island

Resting in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea is the island of Lampedusa. A gateway to both Italy and Europe, the island has become a key destination for African refugees on their journey towards a better life. While the residences of Lampedusa like to boast that the island is the land of freedom and peace, […]

How_to_Prepare_for_Prison_1 May 06

Hot Docs 2016: How to Prepare for Prison

As the stories unravel in Matt Gallagher’s How to Prepare for Prison, we are privy to the reverberations that a looming prison sentence can have on one’s life. Each story contains its own peculiarity, and they are all in different stages of the process. In fact, a prison term is only a certainty in one […]

Aim_for_the_Roses_1 May 05

Hot Docs 2016: Aim for the Roses

“It’s going to be a long 102 minutes”. This was my first impression of Aim for the Roses, which makes its world premiere at the Hot Docs Film Festival. John Bolton’s documentary opens on a reenactment of Ken Carter (played by actor Andrew McNee with a yellow jumpsuit and terrible 70s beard) proclaiming his destiny […]

The_Happy_Film_2 May 05

Hot Docs 2016: The Happy Film

How does one achieve and maintain a consistent state of happiness? Is such a thing even possible considering the hardships that come with relationships and life in general? These are some of the questions that directors Stefan Sagmeister and Ben Nabors attempt to answer in The Happy Film, a film about happiness that, within its […]

Shining_Star_of_Losers_Everywhere May 04

Hot Docs 2016: The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere

In 2003, Japan was amid its “Lost Decade”. The economy was stagnant, unemployment was on the rise, and from 1995 to 2007 real wages fell 5%. For all the economic damage, it is possible that the Japanese people suffered even more from a morale standpoint, as the prospects for the future appeared bleaker with each […]

Just_A_Dog May 04

Hot Docs 2016: Just a Dog

How is a cop like a box of chocolates? They’ll both kill your dog. Seven the Saint Bernard was one such dog. He was one of the roughly ten thousand dogs killed by police in 2006. Ten thousand more dogs have been killed every year since. Just a Dog examines the impact of one pet’s […]

Fear_Itself_2 May 04

Hot Docs 2016: Fear Itself

We all experience fear and are often frightened of different things; unconsciously allowing it to shape how we go about our lives. Fear Itself, a visual essay by Charlie Lyne, attempts to aid one narrator’s journey into her own subconscious, as she tries to decipher what makes her afraid and why, by illustrating it through […]

Off the Rails May 03

Hot Docs 2016: Off the Rails

Darius McCollum takes great pride in the Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) uniform he wears. Not only does he strive to ensure that riders have a safe and enjoyable ride with each train he conducts, but he is also willing to protest for better wages for MTA workers, even if it means spending 20 days in […]

Infinite Flight of Days May 03

Hot Docs 2016: The Infinite Flight of Days

Nestled in the Andes lies the small village of Jericó, a colourful community constantly under the watchful eye of a Jesus statue perched on the hill above it. Proving that this seemingly quiet village is anything but, Colombian director Catalina Mesa takes audiences on a fascinating tour of the history of the community from those […]

Half-life_in_Fukushima_1 May 03

Hot Docs 2016: Half-Life in Fukushima

It’s just over five years since the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in the Pacific Ocean that led to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. It’s almost become a catchphrase, like Chernobyl. We know something nuclear happened, but the details are beginning to fade, as is our interest in what came next. What directors Mark Olexa […]

How to Let Go of the World May 02

Hot Docs 2016: How to Let Go of the World

Though you may not have noticed, Earth Day 2016 was pretty momentous as the final version of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was opened for signatures, and 177 countries signed the agreement and 15 have already ratified it. This should have been a moment for excitement; a celebration that the world has come together […]

Angry Inuk May 02

Hot Docs 2016: Angry Inuk

An Inuit community in Canada’s northern territories faces an interesting challenge. How can a culture, that prides itself on a patient and understated expression of anger, make themselves heard when their opponents are famous for a more aggressive approach? Canadian seal hunting has gotten a lot of media attention since the late 1970s thanks to […]

Nuts! May 02

Hot Docs 2016: Nuts!

Nuts: a pejorative term indicating insanity; a slang word for testicles. In the case of Nuts!, it’s both. J.R. Brinkley was a doctor in small town Kansas who, through the grace of his revolutionary goat-testicle transplant surgery, cured many men of impotence and infertility while bringing vitality and prosperity to the town. Brinkley had to […]

Gun Runners May 01

Hot Docs 2016: Gun Runners

I was a little uncomfortable when I discovered that this documentary about Kenyan warriors had a pun in its title. With armed cattle rustling getting out of hand, the Kenyan government introduced a disarmament program in 2004 to end the violence. Warriors like Julius Arile and Robert Matanda were encouraged to turn over their guns […]

How_To_Build_A_Time_Machine_1 May 01

Hot Docs 2016: How to Build a Time Machine

In Jay Cheel’s sensational sophomore film, How to Build a Time Machine, two vastly different men cope with personal tragedy by finding inspiration in H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine. For animator Rob Niosi, it was seeing the 1960 film adaptation that years later sparked a compulsion to build a full size replica of the […]

Cheer_Up_3 April 30

Hot Docs 2016: Cheer Up

When it comes to sports movies, and cheerleading ones in particular, we’ve seen the gamut. We’ve seen decisive wins, tragic near misses, hard-earned second places, and undeserved firsts. Canadian-born director Christy Garland shows us the side rarely observed in movies but always there in real life; she shows us the losers. In Cheer Up, we […]

Ovarian Psycos April 30

Hot Docs 2016: Ovarian Psycos

The stifling environs of the downtrodden can give birth to inspiring movements. In Ovarian Psycos, a documentary from Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trubull-LaValle, fed-up women of color respond to institutionalized sexism and violence by founding a cycling group to support each other and reclaim their community. By celebrating their femininity and strengthening their leadership skills, […]

The Apology April 29

Hot Docs 2016: The Apology

With The Apology, Tiffany Hsiung’s ambition is to reveal a profound and horrible injustice: during World War II, the Japanese army forced over 200,000 girls and young women into sexual slavery. Euphemistically referred to as “comfort women” or “grandmas”, the Japanese government has never apologized to the women victimized by this barbaric practice. The Apology […]