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Hot Docs 2018 Review: The Trolley

This year, Hot Docs will host its first-ever IMAX screening at Cinesphere with the world premiere of The Trolley, director Stephen Low’s ode to the streetcar. The Trolley quite simply tells the history of the streetcar which upon invention, quickly spread to urban centres and revolutionized cities, mobility and economic development.  The presentation is straightforward and focused solely on the trolly’s storied past. With how beautiful this film looks, the streetcar is truly getting the star treatment that Low and streetcar enthusiasts undoubtedly feel it deserves.

The Trolley tracks the history of the streetcar internationally but Toronto is a fixture of the film as one of the last bastions of municipal tram support, even in the 1960s when the streetcar was nearly left behind entirely (damn you, cars!). There is a lot of ground to cover here and the way history is integrated into this film is really remarkable. The streetcar, despite being an early invention, is the most environmentally friendly mode of public transit. It has historical charm, gets people around with great efficiency, and builds community, and Low has little sympathy for anyone who feels differently (Fun fact: Low is the son of IMAX inventor and documentary pioneer Colin Low).

The Trolley may not hold everyone’s interest, but for those at all intrigued by the history of Toronto or transit, or those who just appreciate a well-made film, it really doesn’t get much better, or better looking, than this.

Dani Saad

Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose. Unless you're Harry Potter in which case you'll lose... everything.