Wesley Willis Joy Rides

Gorge on Hot Docs All-You-Can-Eat Late Night Films

One of my favourite things about Hot Docs is that it likes to reward its night-owls with cheaper late night screenings at the Bloor Cinema. Any film at that cinema starting after 11pm will be only $5, while the late night all-you-can-eat package is only $10 for all 9 films. For those of you still with me, this comes out to around $1.11 a film or 9 screenings for the price of two, so you really have no reason not to buy the whole thing, especially since many of the films are quite excellent.

In my experience, the late night films have been some of the most memorable audience experiences, particularly last year at the hyper-inspiring documentary Girls Rock, so you can rest assured that these screenings will always be a bit extraordinary. This year, with the combination of retrospective selections, carnies, Wesley Willis, Project Runway and dysfunctional couples, the late-night screenings are everything you could wish for and more.

My selections for the most unmissable late night screenings are as follows.

Carny is a film that is not what it seems, documenting the lives of carnival workers or 'carnies' as they travel from town to town. While the film not only exposes the toll that living on the road takes on their social lives, it explains why many of the carnies prefer living that way. Considering that the first screening of this film has already gone rush, this may be one of the only guaranteed ways to see this film.

Wesley Willis's Joy Rides is a heartfelt film documenting the life of the cult musician, through interviews and footage of Willis throughout his career. One of the most interesting things I learned from it was the amazing skill that Willis had as an artist (see image above.) The film not only tackles mental illness and the toll it took on Willis, but also manages to stay upbeat, portraying his amusing nature without ever making Willis into a joke.

Planet B-Boy has been rumoured to possibly be the first late night film to hit capacity. The film features an international showdown of b-boys in Germany and through all the poppin' and lockin' it gives insight into the lives of the b-boys (and girls) and how their art form attempts to tackle issues of racism and classism at the same time.

Monterey Pop is one of the most important musical documentaries, I believe, still to this day. Documenting the 1967 Monterey Pop International Pop Festival using a cinema verite style, it features some unbelievable performances that made artists such as Joplin, Redding and Hendrix and some haunting performances by the Mamas and the Papas and The Who. The film is directed by D.A Pennebaker who also made Don't Look Back, the Bob Dylan documentary. If you haven't had a chance to see this film yet, do yourself a favour and see it on the big screen.

Other late night films include Eleven Minutes which follows Project Runway's first season winner Jay McCarroll as he prepares for New York Fashion Week and tackles the concept of post-reality show fame and Vesterbro, about a filmmaker who turns the camera on his neighbours, a young couple coping with addiction problems, that is, the addiction to each other.

Due to Hot Docs coverage, a truncated version of This Week in Film will be up tomorrow.

Image: Wesley Willis from Wesley Willis Joy Rides

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