Hot Docs 2013 Preview Pt. 2
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Rule Breakers and Innovators
Cullen Hoback’s documentary is one that you know is going to be compelling right from the start, but one you also cringe at watching. The reason is that you know what he is going to do, but you want to avoid the inconvenient truth. He is about to show the horrors of the mostly complacent world in which we live when it comes to online privacy.
The disturbing reality, revealed methodically and impressively by Hoback, is that everything we do and say online is saved, catalogued, referenced, and simply available for anyone to do whatever they want. Exploring the width and breadth of the power of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others, what we find out is that users in the online world have given up all privacy, but worse than that, their personal information cannot be taken back – it’s always out there.
Clever, funny, and truly unnerving, Hoback investigates the privacy policies of companies point by miniscule point, parsing their vague words, and noting the extensive and subtle changes that seem to be constantly made. In a most remarkable moment, hysterical and completely chilling, a government agent speaking before Congress about privacy says something to the effect of, ‘we’ve tried for decades to get people to tell us stuff about them, and now they’re just throwing it out there for anyone to read.’ The stunned way in which he says it is so funny and true, but then we learn the NSA is building a giant warehouse in the desert for all the digital information, and things get serious again.
Taking a page from Michael Moore going after Charlton Heston, Hoback concludes with an attempt to interview the face of online interconnectedness and exhibitionism, Mark Zuckerberg. Unlike Moore, he knows when to hold back, and how to make a point, and it serves him well in this eye-opening doc.
Fri, Apr 26 1:30 PM – Isabel Bader Theatre
Sun, Apr 28 6:00 PM – The ROM Theatre
Fri, May 3 2:00 PM – Hart House Theatre
Not Criminally Responsible
A flooring piece of Canadian documentary filmmaking, Not Criminally Responsible will make you conflicted, empathetic, and enraged. In an unprecedented and unanticipated moment of uncontrollable anger and force, Sean Clifton attacked a stranger outside a shopping mall in Cornwall, Ontario, stabbing her and sending her bloodily to the ground. He stands around after the attack, waiting for cops to arrive, and is taken away, eventually assigned to a mental institution.
Today, 13 years later, Clifton is released and reflective. He still has wild hair and obvious odd tendencies, but his self awareness is unparalleled. His roommate is too a former patient, still under the care of doctors but free to carry on independently in life. Both men understand the situation of the other to an extent, and both casually worry the other could snap at any moment. The two form the heart of a story by John Kastner exploring mental disorder, therapy, and criminality.
The woman Clifton attacked is alive, recovering, yet still traumatized. She and her family are interviewed, as they recount the horrifying encounter. They struggle with the fact that Clifton has been released, but they too, like the audience, try to understand the ‘why’ of the attack.
Clifton is a most compelling figure; in a spontaneous moment, he attacked a woman and scarred her for life, leaving her next to dead. He is though a victim of mental illness and a man who was not given the property care, and his journey is one that is heartbreaking. “They said they were too busy to talk to me,” he says soft spoken in a measured pace, referring to a time when he know something was wrong.
NCR is simultaneously simple and complex: Clifton is relatable human figure, but the way in which the world reacts to him is layered. This access that Kastner has to Clifton, his doctors, and everyone involved in the story is staggering, all of which carries with it a heavy heart.
Sun, Apr 28 9:30 PM – Isabel Bader Theatre
Tue, Apr 30 3:30 PM – Scotiabank 3
Sun, May 5 1:00 PM – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Fuck For Forest
Really, that’s what they want you to do. FFF is an anarchic eco-charity based in Germany that seeks to raise awareness for the environment and earn funds to support eco-friendly endeavors around the world by getting naked, having sex, and promoting a sense of free love.
As the film opens, a young, wayward, somewhat idealistic androgynous man joins the group, which exists in world without restraints or limits. They ride around their bikes at night putting on shows at random and giving speeches to raise money, while looking for their next project. Along the way they make love, occasionally on camera and occasionally live, all supporting the belief that their expression of sexuality puts them closer to the Earth.
They encourage others to do to the same, and they’re honest if not at times misguided and misunderstood cause attracts attention good and bad. It is an incredibly intimate look, as you would expect, but not just in terms of sexuality. The group is more than comfortable in front of the camera, but their failures and alienation are too cataloged, as filmmaker Michal Marczak of Poland is given incredible access. At its climax (pardon the pun), the group travels to a small village in South America, but does not receive the warmest of welcomes.
Looking back, the group seems to regret the decision. On their site, which as you would expect is for adults only, a blog post says the film does not accurately represent them, calling the director ‘manipulative’ and stating, “I do not think Michal Marzak was honest in his communication with us or his intention behind what he wished to produce. FFF is a group of idealistic expressionists, Michal Marzak is a money and fame loving movie maker.”
So then, see for yourself, this odd group of eco renegades.
Sun, Apr 28 11:45 PM – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Tue, Apr 30 4:00 PM – TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
Sun, May 5 8:30 PM – TIFF Bell Lightbox 3