Hot Docs 2012: Weekend Recap

Hot Docs was in full swing this weekend, with documentaries from around the world playing on numerous screens across the city.  Here’s the scoop on the titles we caught so far!

AI WEI WEI: NEVER SORRY

It’s impossible not to be in awe of the astounding talent and courage of China’s most famous international artist.

This Sundance Special jury-prize award winning piece gives an all access look into the life of the artist who gained world recognition after his arrest and two month detention by Chinese authorities last year.

Despite escalating threats,  including bulldozing of his studio, physical attack and his blog being taken offline, he continues to express his feeling toward strict Chinese censorship through his art and social media.

This stunning portrait brings to life the struggle of one artist against the oppressive censorship of the state. It’s truly a “must see” of this year’s festival!

Catch this film again on Saturday April 28th at TIFF Bell Lightbox!

BEAUTY IS EMBARRASSING

If you grew up watching Pee Wee’s Playhouse or Shining Time Station, you’re already familiar with Wayne White’s work. Sometimes known as the “word guy” (because of his word paintings that are famous for using the F-bomb) White playfully and honestly recounts his struggle to reconcile his Tennessee upbringing and his creative aspirations, his artistic beginnings and the highs and lows of his career.

From puppeteer to art director, this remarkable figure shares his insights in life and art. It really is an extraordinary ride!

This film has has two more screenings. Catch it again Sunday April 29th at Bader or it’s finale screening Sunday May 6th at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema!

HERMAN’S HOUSE

Meet Herman Wallace, a Black Panther member falsely accused of murdering a prison guard and locked in solitary for almost 40 years. Meet Jackie Sumell a head strong New York artist/activist.

Their story is a an extraordinary and sometimes heartbreaking struggle. She first tries to just help him out of his cage by asking him to imagine his perfect house, a house dreamed up by a man who’s spent decades in a 6X9 box. She then exhibits this hoping to gain  awareness and support for Herman. It becomes bigger than either of them dreamed when plans for Herman’s House become a reality.

The film touches on the moral and legal fairness of keeping a prisoner locked in solitary for decades–as Herman’s case is up for evaluation every year and is never given proper consideration. But mostly it chronicles the relationship between Jacqui and Herman over several years and how it changes them both.

A powerful human story of a spirit that couldn’t be broken–and the foundation of a brighter future!

This film screens twice more. Catch it Wednesday May 2nd at the ROM and Sunday May 6th at TIFF Bell Lightbox!

MCCULLIN

The current front runner for the People’s Choice Award, McCullin is the fascinating story of photo journalist Donald McCullin who’s graphic and disturbing images of war had him on the cover of in the 70’s.

The film takes us to the front lines, where Mccullin risked everything to create his provocative images. He admits that he even became addicted to war. He stood apart from other journalists at the time as they would “snap and run”, but he stayed an lived among soldiers to get the true story.

The horror of the images might be too much for some but I think it’s important to watch this film and take away the message Mccullin was always trying to convey throw his photographs: that war is aimless and  destructive and the causalities are often the innocents.

This film has one more screening on the final day of the festival Sunday May 6th at the ROM.

TCHOUPITOULAS

Through the lens we take an all night adventure through the booming streets of New Orleans with three youths who sneak out for the night. The sounds and images saturate the screen as we’re taken from  bright throughway to  dank burlesque hall, and are acquainted with buskeers, hustlers, drag queens and weathered old men.

The wonder and discovery along the boys’ forbidden journey is so contagious. It makes you want to hop on a plane and have an adventure of your own!

This film plays again today Monday April 30th at 4PM at Bader and again on  Saturday May 5th at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

THE IMPOSTER

With as much gripping suspense and jaw dropping reveals as any crime/drama I’ve seen recently, The Imposter is a standout of this year’s festival.

The less you know going in the better, but it all starts with the mysterious disappearance of a 13-year-old from a San Antonio home and a baffling phone call to the family 4 years later claiming the boy was found in a small village in Spain.

The film takes a few turns and spirals into an expose-style portrait of a disturbing figure and how far we go to fool ourselves.

 

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