Elgin Theatre

TIFF Announces Documentary Selections

With each week comes a press release with new announcements for TIFF 2008 and my list of must-see films increases two-fold! This week, the Toronto International Film Festival Group released a list of (my favourite!) the documentaries at this years festival. The films announced ranged from the politics of food, to Dungeons & Dragons, basketball, failing justice systems, Shaolin Monks, whaling protests and even a film about the biggest Chinese restaurant in the world.

To get something off of my chest, I am unapologetically excited for The Dungeon Masters, which follows the lives of several D&D fans who are heavily involved in the game. As somebody who admits to being mildly excited about the 4th edition release, it'll be great to see a film where gaming culture and socialization clash to a soundtrack crafted by Blonde Redhead.

One of my favourite docs from TIFF last year was Please Vote For Me, which followed a class of elementary students in China who learned a tough lesson about democracy in a communist country, through voting for their own class president. Intimidation, bribes and tears collided in the film and director Weijun Chen returns to TIFF this year with The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World. Chen has a knack for getting to the heart of his subjects and by exposing the world to the West Lake Restaurant in Changsha, China which employs over one THOUSAND staff members, I'm sure he'll find many stories to tell.

Highly anticipated doc Food Inc. draws upon critical food texts by authors such as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivores Dilemma) to explore the current state of affairs with regard to what we eat and why. Issues such as genetic modification, organic definitions, animal cruelty and the livelihood of the average American farmer collide in this film that will definitely have you reevaluating what you put on your table for dinner.

Politically charged documentaries such as Witch Hunt and Killing Kasztner will shake and challenge viewers faith in justice, while the eco-doc At the Edge of the World features an activist fighting for justice of the environmental kind.

A documentary that features subjects pushed to their physical and spiritual limits can be found in The Real Shaolin, about four very different students (2 Western, 2 Chinese) who spend a difficult year training to seek Shaolin knowledge about Kung-Fu, with only one of them completing their dream.

Last but not least, docs about more organized sports pop up in the programming this year with Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, a doc that revisits the infamous game in 1968, through interviews with the football players that experienced it. Basketball is also represented with More Than a Game, a documentary that began by covering a fantastic high school basketball team from Akron, Ohio which just so happened to be developing future NBA star LeBron James.

For these and more, visit the TIFF 2008 announcement about the documentary films selected.

Image: Outside the Elgin by blogTO flickr-pooler minieeyore2006

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