Space Tourists

Hot Docs 2010 Preview, Part 2

We're only a few days away from the 17th edition of Hot Docs, Toronto's annual 11 day blitz of documentaries from all over the world.

In the past couple of weeks, I've been inspired, enlightened, and even moved to tears (just once) by this year's selections. In case you can`t make it out to all 170 of them, to help narrow it down here is another look at what's on at Hot Docs 2010.


Space Tourists
Although I wouldn't quite call it riveting, Space Tourists is a pretty interesting look at the commercialization of space travel. According to this doc, the cash-strapped Russian space program is subsidized by taking rich people to the international space station, for $20 million a pop. While the bulk of the film centers on an American businesswoman taking the trip, the topic is examined more broadly with a look at other schemes being developed to get more people into space, and even following a group of Kazakhs who collect rocket debris in order to sell the raw materials.

Dish: Women, Waitressing & the Art of Service
The dish come out as waitress-turned-director Maya Gallus interviews women in the business of serving food in Toronto, Montreal, Paris, and Tokyo. One common thread emerges whether they do their job naked, in tuxedos, or in maid uniforms - the art of service is hard work.

A Different Path
The Toronto segment is the is the bulk and the better part of this documentary about a bunch creative anti-car activists. It features the Communist's Daughter's famed trumpeting bartender, Michael Louis Johnson, talking about the local Streets are for People! movement and its various taking back the street parades and parties (one of which will be held on College Street to celebrate the film's screening with live-music).

Portrait of a Man
The Finnish have a few docs in this year's fest that touch on the idea of "masculinity in transition". Kalle Rissanen is the everyday man whose portrait is being painted here: a single dad with a decent job at a difficult time in his life. Thing is, his father was a about the same age and in a similar circumstance when he committed suicide. Kalle confronts the past through therapy and relatives, trying to make sense of his father's choice... and I was blubbering along with him the whole time.

Not So Recommended

The Peddler
What does this peddler peddle? He travels from Argentine village to village in a beat up car, scripts in hand, and convinces the village authorities to put him up in exchange for making a film there using locals as actors. If Werner Herzog made a movie about this guy, it would be the one of greatest documentaries of all time.

The "Socalled" Movie
Though Montrealer Josh Dolgin (a.k.a. Socalled) seems like an interesting guy and his klezmer funk hip hop music is pretty good, I'm not all that sure he needs to be the subject of an 87 minute feature.

Leave Them Laughing
Leave Them Laughing is based on a dark and humorous blog by a woman named Carla Zilbersmith who has been diagnosed with ALS. It's an all-too-real account of her trying to make the most out of life while her health rapidly declines.

For more, check out Hot Docs 2010 Preview, Part 1.

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 Space Tourists courtesy of Hot Docs.

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