hot docs 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doc getting its premiere in Toronto

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or as she's known with the hip youth, "AOC," has been setting the political world ablaze. 

As the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress, AOC has proposed some ideas many consider radical, and has been taking long-time stuffy politicians to task, making a name for herself extremely quickly. 

Now, her story has been captured in a documentary. 

Knock Down the House is a hot take on a few political campaigns during the 2018 U.S. midterms, focusing heavily on AOC herself. 

That film will get its Canadian premiere at this year's Hot Docs Festival Special Presentation, along with several others receiving either a Canadian or international premiere. 

The full selection of films screening at Hot Docs 2019, which runs from April 25 to May 5, will be revealed on March 19. For now, here's what to expect of the special presentations


Lea Tsemel is a human rights lawyers in Israel that has spent almost 50 years defending Palestinians. This causes a nightmare of vitriolic and hateful comments and attacks from the public and the press. 

Always in Season

Lynchings and racism are explored through this doc that pivots around a 2014 unsolved case of a Black teenager found hung from a swing set in North Carolina only a few years ago. 

Assholes: A Theory

Based on a book, this documentary looks at "assholes," jerks, meanies and more. It examines how we have arrived at a culture where there are so many assholes, and how to stop them. 


Service dogs aren't just there to look adorable, they serve a very important function. This documentary explores their relationship with humans and the trust required. 

The Corporate Coup D'Etat

This doc focuses around the observations of two journalists, examining the state of U.S. democracy and the Trump MAGA doctrine. Specifically, this film looks at the power of corporations versus the government. 

The Edge of Democracy

Brazil has always been a haven for political turmoil, and this doc looks to capture that. It'll explore the polarizing period of Brazilian presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva. 


The Gaza Strip is one of the most hotly contested and dangerous places in the world, and is almost ground zero for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This doc takes a look at life in the area, which is home to almost two million people.  

The Trial of Ratko Mladic

Often called the "Butcher of Bosnia," Ratko Mladic is a war criminal who was tried for his horrific crimes in a trial that is considered the largest since the Nazi Nuremberg trials. This doc follows that story, and looks at the continuing Serbian-Bosnian conflict.

Human Nature

What does it mean to be human? In an age of science fiction and DNA editing, that question is becoming harder to answer. Human Nature is a doc that tries to answer it, potentially reconsidering the definition of human.

Killing Patient Zero

The HIV and AIDS epidemic was long kept behind closed doors, most often forced behind them. This doc traces how homophobia and prejudice led to the deaths of millions, and refutes the identity of "patient zero".

Knock Down the House

This doc follows four progressive women, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, through their grassroots campaigns during the U.S. Congressional races.

N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear

Navarro Scott Momaday is a celebrated and revered Pulitzer Prize winner. In this doc that journeys through New Mexico and the West, the Native American literary icon is showcased.

Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy

A 96-year-old chef is considered the master of Mexican cooking, and as her lifespan dwindles, she faces her own legacy in the kitchen. 


Here in Toronto, we know all too well how hard affordable housing is to come by. As housing prices skyrocket, a UN specialist travels to Toronto, Barcelona, London, and other world cities to examine the problem. 

Toxic Beauty

It's no secret that the cosmetics industry can be controversial and shady, including links to animal testing, cancers, and more. This doc takes a magnifying glass to the risks of beauty by interviewing experts and whistleblowers.

Lead photo by

Gillian Laub

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