David Wants to Fly

Hot Docs 2010 Preview, Part 1

The name - Hot Docs - says it all. North America's premiere documentary festival kicks off on April 29 with its usual stellar lineup of colourful real life stories and characters. Expect an unexpected mix of exotic locales, class struggles, family dramas, villains, rock stars, spiritual journeys... and even a few laughs.

But picking the best bets is always a daunting task and this year is no exception. Organizers had to weed through 2,088 entries this year to narrow it down to the most compelling 170 or so films. In case you can`t make it out to all of the them, here is my first look at what's on at Hot Docs 2010.

Top Pick

The Parking Lot Movie
Make sure to catch The Parking Lot Movie screening in an actual parking lot (May 6). Hot Docs is experimenting with a few open-air screenings this year in the top tier of the Citipark Cumberland Garage in Bloor-Yorkville. The Parking Lot Movie is about bunch of smartass disgruntled parking lot attendants in Charlottesville, Virginia. It`s amusing in that making-fun-of-rich-people kind of way and there will be beer and free popcorn.


David Wants to Fly
A recent film school grad, unsure of what to pursue, finds a juicy story in David Lynch's involvement in the transcendental meditation movement. Docmaker (and star of the film) David Sieveking uncovers the big business end of the group, bitter ex-followers, a scandal-worthy sexual relationship, and controversy over the succession of TM's founder, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his empire worth billions. So, for one thing, it probably wasn't too hard for Sieveking to dig up gossip on an organization this large in size. And second, does he really have to subjects us to his teary relationship breakup drama? I wasn't impressed until David Wants to Fly started to unfold as a personal journey in which Sieveking, seeking inspiration and mentorship (from Lynch, and later in the Maharishi's teachings), finds that idols are all too imperfect. Unexpectedly, one of the most thought provoking films for me in this year's lineup.

Thieves by Law
Interviews with Russian bad guys about robbing, beating, and killing people. Apparently, this is how you take financial control of Russia in the 1990s after the Soviet collapse. Whoa.

Life With Murder
A heartbreaking tale of a murder is a small town. The town is Chatham, Ontario. The Jenkins were your average happy family until, twelve or so years ago, they came home and found their daughter shot dead. The Jenkins' son Mason has since been convicted of the murder. While the family stands behind him, the elephant in the room keeps getting bigger. John Kastner (whose previous films also explore the relationships of criminals) rolls his camera as Mason, at long last, admits to what really happened.

Namrata (short)
Namrata Gill came to Canada for an arranged marriage and her husband turned out to be an abusive prick. In 9 minutes, I went from pity to admiration. Screens with Shelley Saywell's new doc In The Name Of The Family.

Not So Recommended

Disco and Atomic War
Estonians building illegal TV antennas to catch broadcasts from Finland during the Cold War. Sound fascinating, right? Truthfully, it's a little dry.

In The Name Of The Family
A hugely important local documentary about the murder of a 16 year old girl by her father and brother. The incident led to a storm of controversy and concerns about the possibility of honour killings taking place here in Toronto (or Mississauga, to be exact). The documentary focuses primarily on events rather than issues.

Grace, Milly, Lucy...Child Soldiers
Interviews with Ugandan women that were beaten, raped, and forced to become soldiers for rebel armies. The film also looks at the difficulties these women now face after an unwelcomed return to their former communities.

Hot Docs runs from April 29 to May 9 at various venues. Tickets and passes can be purchased at the documentary box office, 55 Avenue Road, Hazelton Lanes (Lower Level) or online.

Still from David Wants to Fly courtesy of Hot Docs.

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