Maya Gallus’ The Heat to open Hot Docs 2018

The NFB also has 21 projects participating in the festival, which this year sees 50% of its titles led by women filmmakers.
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Maya Gallus’ The Heat: A Kitchen Revolution will heat up the opening night of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

The Toronto fest unveiled its complete film lineup at a press conference held March 20, with 246 films and 16 interdisciplinary projects being chosen from more than 3,000 submissions for the event’s 25th edition. Of those selected, work by female filmmakers represented 50% of the 2018 program.

Gallus’ The Heat was named a Hot Docs Ted Rogers Fund recipient earlier in February. Making its world premiere at the fest, her doc about seven women chefs working in the world of professional cooking was one of six receiving a portion of $103,000 in financial support.

Meanwhile, 21 NFB docs were selected for this years’ Hot Docs lineup. Julien Fréchette’s My War about four Western volunteers who’ve decided to battle ISIS (produced and exec produced by Colette Loumède) is among those making its world premiere at the festival.

Other NFB docs tapped for Canadian premieres include Jean-François Caissy’s First Stripes (exec produced by Colette Loumède), director Laura Marie Wayne’s feature doc debut Love, Scott (produced and exec produced by Annette Clarke) and Christy Garland’s What Walaa Wants produced by Murmur Media, Final Cut for Real and the NFB (producers include Garland, Matt Code,  Anne Köhncke, Justine Pimlott and exec produced by Anita Lee).

Parabola Films’ copro with Beauvoir Films and the NFB, 1999 is also making its Ontario premiere. Director Samara Grace Chadwick’s first feature doc follows Chadwick as she revisits the city she fled as a teen when multiple classmates at her high school took their lives. Producers include Selin Murat, Sarah Spring, Aline Schmid, Kat Baulu, Jac Gautreau and Marie-Claude Dupont. Exec producers include Annette Clarke and Dominic Desjardins.

World premieres in the Canadian Spectrum program, which explores issues affecting Canadians and the country, are The Guardians (produced by No Equal Entertainment and directed by Billie Mintz) about the corruption of Nevada’s guardianship system, Letter from Masanjia following the mystery behind an SOS letter written by a Chinese political prisoner that turns up in Oregon’s Halloween decorations (directed by Leon Lee and produced by Flying Cloud Productions), This Mountain Life about a 60-year-old mother and daughter’s trek through the Rocky Mountains (directed by Grant Baldwin and produced by Peg Leg Films) and United We Fan a doc on how superfans of famous TV shows fight to keep them on air (produced by Pancakes and Eggs Productions and directed by Michael Sparaga). Harvest Moon from director Zaheed Mawani (produced by Medium Density Fibreboard Films) will also have its North American premiere in the category.

To honour Hot Docs’ 25th anniversary, there will be a screening of Alanis Obomsawin’s  Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, a doc about the standoff between the Mohawks, Quebec police and the Canadian army. The Toronto doc fest will also have a free world premiere IMAX screening of director Stephen Low’s The Trolley (produced by The Stephen Low Company) at the Ontario Place Cinesphere. Low’s doc examines the history of this mode of public transit through visits to 34 countries around the world. Finally, Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker’s U.S. doc The War Room (produced by Pennebaker Hegedus Films) will also have a special screening.

In the DocX category, a section dedicated to celebrating documentaries that feature virtual reality and interactive experiences, is EyeSteelFilms’ Anote’s Ark, a VR experience and photo exhibit from director Matthieu Rytz.

Some of the other Canadian films also selected for the festival include the Canada/Israel copro The Oslo Diaries from directors Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan (produced by Intuitive Pictures), the Canada-U.S. coventure The Game Changers (directed by Louie Psihoyos and produced by ReFuel Productions), coventure Playing Hard from director Jean-Simon Chartier (produced by MC2 Productions), Abnormal Freedom from directors Kiyari Mcnab and Andrea Cessna (produced by PPRPLN productions), A Drummer’s Dream from director John Walker (produced by John Walker Productions) and A Little Wisdom from Yuqi Kang (produced by Blue Goat Films), as well as the short film My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes (directed by Charlie Tyrell and produced by LaRue Entertainment and Julie Baldassi), which last week won the documentary short competition at SXSW.

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival runs from April 26 to May 6, 2018.