Hot Docs 2012 Toronto

Hot Docs 2012 preview

The 2012 Hot Docs Festival kicks off next Thursday with 189 movies, heroes, villains, rock stars, athletes, reindeer herders, and more. Programmers have booked us a spotlight on docs from Southeastern Europe, a retrospective of Michel Brault's career, an entire program devoted to stories about Rising Up, and according to early reports, guest appearances by James Franco and Rick Springfield.

The festival runs from April 26th through May 6th, so it might be time to start thinking about getting tickets. If you aren't too sure where to start, here is a short rundown of this year's festival, and a few docs you might want to hit.

What's new this year?

Well, the festival's own year-round digs: The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. The Annex landmark just reopened in March 2012 after a slick reno job, with an upgraded projection and sound system, and pretty comfy seating.

And in what sounds like very cool initiative for film buffs outside of the downtown core, the festival is introducing Hot Docs Live! this year. That is, simulcast screenings and interactive q&a's of two of high-profile movies at Cineplex theatres all over Canada, and wide-spread across the GTA (including the Eglinton Town Centre, Mississauga, Hamilton, and many more).

The first to go live from The Bloor Cinema is China Heavyweight, in which Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze) takes a peek inside the lives of young boxing recruits in rural China (on May 2, 9:00 p.m. ET). Also likely to be a crowd-pleaser, the video game makers profiled in Indie Game: The Movie have captured the imagination of HBO heads, who have already acquired remake rights for a fictional TV series based on the film (on May 3, 9:00 p.m. ET).

What to see

In terms of the various programs, Rise Against and Nightvision have some of the edgier titles. Rise Against is a very timely set that includes a profile of the online activist group Anonymous, in We Are Legion: The Story Of The Hacktivists, and citizen-journalists in China in High Tech, Low Life. Stay up past midnight to find out all you ever needed to know about 80's female wrestling comedians at GLOW: The Story Of The Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling (tip: tickets are $5 after 11pm).

Canadian highlights include the father-son martial arts film Legend Of A Warrior, The Boxing Girls Of Kabul, Herman's House, and Najeeb Mirza's Buzkashi!, that goes into the world of a horse-riding battle sport played in the Tajikistani mountains.

Tchoupitoulas got my attention with the trailer above. It follows three teenage boys running around in the French Quarter of New Orleans, while Canned Dreams follows a can of ravioli through 8 countries at every step of its production. Academy Award-nominated Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp) take us through modern day Detroit with Detropia. Mads Br端gger (The Red Chapel) takes us undercover with a diplomatic passport to expose corruption in Liberia with The Ambassador. Oh, and of course there is LCD Soundsystem's last concert movie, Shut Up And Play The Hits.

I for one am hoping the following mysteries will be solved: Will Iceland's Penis Museum finally get a human specimen? (The Final Member) Is the teenager found in Spain really a boy who disappeared from Texas three and a half years earlier? (The Imposter) What was James Franco really doing on General Hospital? (Francophrenia (Or: Don't Kill Me, I Know Where The Baby Is))

Still not sure? The programming team has offered to help you decide. Hot Docs announced on Twitter yesterday that they would offer up personal recommendations if you tweet "Show Me" with 2 themes using the hashtag #hotdocs12 (e.g., Show Me music + skateboarding #hotdocs12).

Get tickets

Tickets are $14.50 each, $115 for 10, or $205 for 20 and are available online.

Or drop by the documentary Box Office:
783 Bathurst Street (1 Block South of Bloor)
Open 7 Days a Week, M-F: 11am-7pm, S-S: 11am-5pm,
April 26-May 6: 11am-9pm
(P) 416-637-5150

Last I checked, 28 films had gone rush, which leaves us with 161 options still available.
View the rush list here. According to Hot Docs, more that 80% of rush liners got into to screenings in the past. Lineups start to form about an hour before each screening.

Still from We Are Legion: The Story Of The Hacktivists courtesy of Hot Docs.

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