Twenty-three Canadian titles among Hot Docs virtual lineup

Of the 226 originally selected projects, more than 130 will screen in the virtual edition, including titles from Lulu Wei, Mia Donovan and Barry Avrich.
Hot Docs

The 2020 edition of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival has unveiled its film selections slated to premiere as part of its Hot Docs Festival Online.

Despite postponing its festival in response to government measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Hot Docs organizers have officially selected more than 135 projects out of the 226 originally selected for the live event that will now participate in the digital event. Included in the selection are 91 feature and mid-length titles, as well as more than 45 short films.

Further feature titles will be added to the Hot Docs line-up in the coming weeks.

Hot Docs Festival Online will run from May 28 to June 6, with a majority of titles to be made available for an extended viewing window until June 24, subject to availability.

“Over a month ago when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, we took the unprecedented step of postponing the public festival anticipating that we would soon be able to reschedule it,” said Brett Hendrie, executive director of Hot Docs, in a statement. “But now, given the ongoing uncertainly around when live festivals and other large gatherings may safely be held, we are fortunate to have this option to bring these outstanding films to our audiences. Response to our Hot Docs at Home platform has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re thrilled to be able to offer so many 2020 official selections on it.”

Domestic titles set to screen in the Canadian Spectrum program are: Ali Weinstein’s #Blessed, Oksana Karpovych’s Don’t Worry, the Doors Will Open, Mia Donovan’s Dope is Death, Greg Crompton’s Eddy’s Kingdom, Jean-François Lesage’s Prayer for a Lost Mitten, Lulu Wei’s There’s No Place Like This Place, AnyplaceFrançois Jacob’s Under the Same Sun, Nathalie Bibeau’s The Walrus and the Whistleblower, Claude Demers’ A Woman, My Mother and Ying Wang’s The World is Bright and Michèle Stephenson’s Stateless (U.S./Canada).

Other Canadian titles taking part in this year’s online festival are Richard Poplak and Diana Neille’s Canada/South Africa copro Influence, Jean-Simon Chartier’s They Call Me Dr. Miami and Liz Marshall’s Meat the Future, all of which will screen in the Special Presentations section.

Elizabeth St. Philip’s 9/11 Kids and Sam Soko’s Kenya/Canada copro Softie are part of the World Showcase program, while Ariel Nasr’s The Forbidden Reel, Barry Avrich’s Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art and Mira Burt-Wintonick’s Wintopia screen in the Artscapes section. Canadian titles involved in the Markers category are Mike Hoolboom’s Judy Versus Capitalism (Markers) and Sophie Bédard-Marcotte’s L.A. Tea Time (Markers). Additional Canadian titles screening at Hot Docs 2020 are Tamara Dawit’s Finding Sally (Revisionaries) and Suzanne Crocker’s First We Eat (To Conserve and Protect).

Feature films and mid-length titles participating in Hot Docs Festival Online Highlights include the world premiere of Bing Zhou‘s Hong Kong Moments, which capture pro-democracy activists and armed police clashing in the city’s streets; and the world premiere of Liz Marshall’s Meat the Future (pictured), which takes audiences inside the Berkeley start-up Memphis Meats as it prepares its lab-grown “cultured meat” products, made without killing animals.

Also making its world premiere is Wei’s There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace, which looks at Toronto’s gentrification told through immigrant stories affected by the closure of discount store Honest Ed’s; Bibeau’s The Walrus and the Whistleblower, which tells the tale of a MarineLand animal trainer turned whistleblower; and Jacob’s Under the Same Sun, an exploration of humanity and hatred in the South Caucasus.

International premieres include Hamed Zolfaghari’s Women of the Sun: A Chronology of Seeing, a profile of six housewives in an Iranian desert who film their fight for gender equality; Jawad Rhalib’s Fadma: Even Ants Have Wings, about a woman who instigates a village-wide cooking strike in a small Berber community in Morocco’s mountains; and Eliza Kubarska’s The Wall of Shadows, the story of a Nepalese Sherpa family that breaks a taboo to earn money for their son’s education.

Further international premieres include Dagmar Smržová’s I Want You If You Dare, a look at a young woman with cerebral palsy who longs for independence and her first sexual experience; Tanja Wol Sørensen’s A Colombian Family, which follows an estranged mother and daughter seeking reconciliation against the backdrop of the country’s fraught peace treaty; and Tone Grøttjord-Glenne’s All That I Am, an examination of sexual abuse’s aftermath as told through one survivor’s story.

Audiences throughout Ontario will be able to stream films on the recently launched Hot Docs at Home platform beginning May 28.

As at the live Hot Docs Festival, a limited number of tickets will be made available for each film beginning on May 21. Single tickets will go on sale to the general public in Ontario on May 26. Tickets are CA$9 per film ($8 for Hot Docs Members).

Audiences will also be provided with access to pre-recorded Q&As with filmmakers and subjects, with additional virtual live events to be rolled out.

The Outstanding Achievement Award retrospective, which will honour Stanley Nelson, and this year’s Focus On retrospective, which will pay tribute to Canadian filmmaker Raymonde Provencher, will be presented at the 2021 Hot Docs festival to more appropriately celebrate the honorees.

The annual Hot Docs Festival was originally slated to run April 30 to May 10.

The full list of participating films can be found here.

This story originally appeared in Realscreen. It contains files from Jillian Morgan and Jordan Pinto