Hot Docs 2012 Toronto

More films to watch at Hot Docs 2012

It's officially the mid-point of the 2012 Hot Docs Film Festival. Some films have come and gone, but there are many more to go.

Hot films for the latter-half of the festival look to include the Queen of Versailles and China Heavyweight which begin Wednesday night, Indie Game the Movie on Thursday and Theo Fleury: Playing with Fire on Friday. For those not in Toronto, Hot Docs Live! will be screening both China Heavyweight and Indie Game the Movie across the country in selected Cineplex theatres. Visit the website for more details.

Here are films to watch (and skip) during the second half of Hot Docs, and a few to keep tabs on beyond the festival.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

The Imposter
The Imposter is a story that (as the director said during the Q&A,) could never be fictionalized because nobody would believe it. In 1994, thirteen year old Nicholas Barclay goes missing only to surface in three years later in Spain with an outlandish tale of kidnapping and a military sexual assault ring. The Imposter has been compared to the speed of information and quality of storytelling as an Errol Morris film but I argue that the film's slick music video style visualizes the narrative in a way that even Morris's works fails to do so. A true crime story for the history books unravels around you and all you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride. (DD)

The Ambassador
Turns out you can buy Liberian diplomatic credentials through power brokers in Europe. In my favourite film at Hot Docs so far, Mads Br端gger ( The Red Chapel ) does just that. Dressed in tan suits and smoking cigars, the Danish doc-maker takes full advantage of the access and immunity that comes with his new title, to bluff his way through shady diamond deals in the Central African Republic. Br端gger's is shrewd, ballsy, and Sacha Baron Cohen-like in his commitment to the "ambassador" character, an investigative approach that allows him to capture tons of alarming corruption (and dark punch lines) on hidden camera. (CM)
Fri, May 4 4:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Sat, May 5 9:00 PM, The Regent

RECOMMENDED

Mama Illegal
Welcome to Moldova, the poorest country in Europe. The population is 3.5 million, 20 per cent live in absolute poverty and those who make money, average less than 100 euros a week. Mama Illegal follows three mothers who illegally immigrated to work in wealthier countries in the EU, living away from their families for several years at a time. The film is effective because it's shot over 6 years and has time to develop real trust with the characters, which allows the women to tell their stories candidly and to connect to the audience and filmmakers. Despite the optimism shown by the workers, Mama Illegal is a tragic example of the continuing effects of the post-Soviet collapse. (DD)

Sexy Baby
Sexy Baby is a troubling but necessary effort to draw some parallels between depictions of female sexuality in the media and its effects on the next generation. We're introduced to three women; an ex-porn star in her early thirties, a recent graduate in her early twenties and a fresh-faced 13 year-old. While the former porn star struggles with self-confidence issues, the 20-something contemplates a labiaplasty and the teenager explores her sexuality...on Facebook. Their behaviour, normalized by the media, is only the tip of the iceberg if we don't have more critical conversations about how women are portrayed and valued. (DD)
Thu, May 3 6:45 PM, Isabel Bader Theatre
Fri, May 4 7:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Italy, Love it or Leave it
Luca and Gustav, the directors behind Suddenly, Last Winter, don't have many qualms with presenting critical commentary of their country. The couple are given an eviction notice by their landlord and spring on the opportunity to do another Italian road trip to discover the truth about Italy. Gustav pushes to leave and move abroad while Luca clings to his homeland, every negative aspect Gustav presents, Luca counters, while they travel in a variety of adorable Fiat's. The film is playful and can seen fluffy at times, but they present some real challenges to Italy's youth, with high unemployment and corruption and really highlight WHY people fight to 'Viva Italia'. (DD)
Sat, May 5 7:30 PM, The Royal Cinema

NOT RECOMMENDED

Crimes Without Honour
The film tries to explain honour based violence to those who haven't been introduced to the subject but I'm not sure what the cohesive message was supposed to be. Aruna, the Toronto social worker, talks about patriarchial honour culture in general, from a broad variety of ethnic/religious backgrounds, but other experts focus on specific ethnic enclaves, some on Islam and the pressure for men to conform to the culture. The film comes off as an unsophisticated attempt to summarize a complex topic with limited dialogue. There are better examples of this topic, much like In the Name of the Family from Hot Docs two years ago. (DD)
Fri, May 4 1:45 PM, Cumberland 3

The Waiting Room
We seem to be at a point in the American health care crisis that there are documentaries of it everywhere that are just adding to the noise. Good intentions run dry in The Waiting Room, a tale of a 'charity' hospital where people wait for days with serious conditions because of the exorbitant fees associated with the resources they require for their care. The film does give a nice perspective of both the clients and the staff but I'm not sure what this film adds to the subject. We've seen this film before, it's easy to find pathos in an American waiting room, it's time for something new. (DD)
Fri, May 4 7:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Sat, May 5 6:30 PM, Isabel Bader Theatre
Sun, May 6 9:15 PM, The Royal Cinema

Previous Hot Doc Coverage:

Hot Docs 2012 preview
This Week in Rep Cinema: Hot Docs 2012 Edition
6 films to add to your 2012 Hot Docs schedule

Hot Docs runs from April 26th to May 6th, 2012 at various Toronto venues. Tickets are $14.50 each and are available online, at the documentary Box Office, 783 Bathurst Street (1 Block South of Bloor). Same day tickets can be purchased at the cinema one hour before the first screening of the day.

With contributions by Chandra Menard


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