Best Worst Movie

Hot Docs 2009 Preview, Part 3

Every spring, Hot Docs brings first-rate documentaries from all over the world to Toronto audiences. The festival kicks off tonight with a solid lineup of contemporary works from South Korea, eco-flicks, local stories, profiles of money makers, and lots of Ron Mann docs... basically at bit of everything.

Unfortunately, the festival also screens a few flops, and this year is no exception. If you can't make it out to all 170 films, keep reading for our third installment of what to watch (and what to miss) at the 16th annual edition of Hot Docs. (see also: Hot Docs Preview, Part 1 and Hot Docs Preview, Part 2)

Top pick

Best Worst Movie
The cast of Troll 2 reunites almost twenty years after shooting the "worst film of all time". When Michael Paul Stephenson, who played the lead as a child, tracks down his former castmates for a tour of the cult film circuit and fan expos, he finds that real-life can be stranger than a campy 1990 horror movie.

Recommended

Carmen Meets Borat
When the Hot Docs lineup was first announced, Carmen Meets Borat was at the top of my 'must see' list. I was looking forward to watching Romanian townsfolk tell Borat producers off for misrepresenting them as hokey Kazakhstanis.

Sadly, this documentary reports that the impoverished villagers were paid a whopping 3 euros to appear in Sacha Baron Cohen's multimillion dollar grossing movie. They had been told that it was going to be a documentary. Then, big city lawyers persuaded their mayor to launch a $30-million lawsuit against Twentieth Century Fox. The lawsuit never materialized. Mercedes Stalenhoef's film tells this story through the eyes of a restless young woman named Carmen, who wants to emigrate to Spain for a better quality of life.

I hope the villagers got paid this time.

Love at the Twilight Motel
Alison Rose interviews regulars at a Miami hotel that charges by the hour. Their seedy confessions of infidelity, drug use, gang bangs, and prostitution are fascinating and disheartening. One of her subjects, the vile Mr. B., tells all about his use of hookers and heroin, including how he keeps it a secret from his wife.

Professor Norman Cornett - "Since when do we divorce the right answer from an honest answer?"
Outstanding Achievement Honouree Alanis Obomsawin's latest work pays tribute to unconventional McGill professor, Norman Cornett. Although popular with students, his "alternative" teaching methods may have gotten him fired - and the University refuses to explain the dismissal. Well crafted, but very one-sided. Not strongly recommended.

Not so recommended

Amerika Idol
A group of dedicated individuals in Zitiste, Serbia decide that the village needs a Rocky Balboa statue. After they secure financing from a chicken distribution company, an artist is hired to complete the piece. Finally seeing the Rocky statue unveiled at an event called Chicken Fest failed to move me, but the "Eye of the Tiger" soundtrack and an interview with Stallone made the doc watchable.

The Real Place
I watched this short early on and I don't remember it at all. The Real Place is no doubt a successful NFB animation exercise, but it made no impression on me.

Hot Docs runs from April 30 to May 10 at various venues. Tickets and passes can be purchased at the documentary box office, 55 Avenue Road, Hazelton Lanes (Lower Level) or online.

Still image from Best Worst Movie.


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