Hot Docs 2013: Festival Preview [April 25th to May 5th]

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Trucker_and_the_fox_1a.516x290Hot Docs 2013 is just a week away – and Sound on Sight will be providing extensive coverage of the festival this year. Readers can expect a barrage of reviews – beginning well in advance of the event itself and carrying forward until the final showing on May 5th – so interested parties should definitely bookmark the link to our Hot Docs round-up.

After spending many happy hours in consultation with the Official Schedule,  we are proud to present our list of the ten most highly anticipated docs on the docket. All of these films (and several more in the bargain) will be discussed at Sound on Sight over the course of the next few weeks. We hope you’ll join us! (And please feel free to let us know which films you’d like to see reviewed.)

(in alphabetical order)

Screenings: Apr 30 (7 pm), May 2 (2 pm) and May 3 (9:15 pm)

Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s film explores the far-reaching implications of a recently-exposed secret: orcas have killed (or attacked) numerous ocean theme-park trainers during the past two decades (while there have been no recorded incidents of this kind in the wild). What does this tell us about the ethics of enslaving these sensitive and recalcitrant beings for our profit and amusement?

Screenings: Apr 26 (9 pm), Apr 28 (1:30 pm) and May 2 (4:30 pm)

This adventure into “what if” documentarism probes the minds of two Chinese artists (Wang Guangyi and Liu Gang) in search of possible answers to the intriguing question: “what would a world shaped by Eastern thought and culture without Western influences look like?”

Fatal Assistance
Screenings: Apr 27 (6 pm), Apr 28 (3:30 pm) and May 5 (6 pm)

Haitian-born director Raoul Peck’s film offers a deeply critical assessment of the international aid which inundated his country after the massive January 2010 earthquake. Peck asserts that Haiti benefited very little from these efforts, which, for the most part, treated the traumatized Caribbean state as a token in a cynical political game, rather than as a self-determining nation composed of human beings who needed (and still need) our most sincere care and attention.

Free the Mind
Screenings: May 2 (6:30 pm), May 3 (6 pm) and May 4 (11 am)

This film examines the early stages of the scientific community’s attempts to understand and quantify the psycho-physical effects of meditation upon a range of human beings under duress (including children with ADHD and soldiers dealing with PTSD). Director Phie Ambo’s approach relies upon sensitive interviews with researchers, skilled mediation guides and the people they strive to help.

Future My Love
Screenings: Apr 26 (9:15 pm), Apr 27 (1:30 pm) and May 3 (6:45 pm)

Director Maja Borg’s visionary film explores the possibilities of moving beyond the disastrous world social conditions which are a by-product of free-market capitalism, projecting the viewer (via the texturally complementary pairing of 8mm film and sharp colour HD video) into a new state of civilization enlivened by paradox, as imagined by 95-year old Futurist Jacques Fresco.

The Ghosts in Our Machine
Screenings: Apr 28 (6:30 pm), May 1 (11 am) and May 4 (11 am)

This documentary sets out to refute the still-popular Cartesian notion that non-human animals are mere “machines” (without the “divine spark” of a soul). Filmmaker Jo-Anne McArthur relies upon the quiet testimony of her camera, rather than upon any unnecessarily strident rhetoric.

I Will Be Murdered
Screenings: May 1 (3:30 pm), May 4 (8 pm), May 5 (9 pm)

This film exposes rife corruption and terrible abuses of power within the Guatemalan government by examining the sensational-yet-tragically-intimate investigation into the murder of lawyer/activist Rodrigo Rosenberg, who predicted his own death on YouTube, just before its occurrence in 2009.

The Last Black Sea Pirates
Screenings: May 1 (9:15 pm), May 2 (4 pm), May 5 (9 pm)

This Bulgarian film documents the desperate efforts of a group of homeless outsiders (led by “Captain Jack”) to locate and subsist upon a fabled pirate treasure trove hidden upon the Black Sea coast during the 19th century – and the government land development project which threatens to derail their quest forever.

The Punk Singer
Screenings: Apr 29 (9:30 pm), May 1 (8 pm), May 3 (6:30 pm)

As a lifelong fan of the film’s subject (Bikini Kill and Le Tigre frontwoman Kathleen Hanna, one of the pioneers of the riot grrrl movement), this reviewer is giddily anticipating the international premiere of director Sini Anderson’s intimate biography.

Trucker and the Fox
Screenings: Apr 26 (1 pm), Apr 28 (4 pm)

This profile of Iranian truck driver/filmmaker Mahmood Kiyani Falavarjani details the director’s deep psychological depression after the death of his pet fox (one of the stars of his award-winning short The Raven and the Fox) and his subsequent attempt to to regain a sense of control over his life by embracing a new cinematic project, which he describes as a “donkey romance”.


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