Seen & Heard at Hot Docs

May 1, 2004


*40,000 attendees

* 100+ documentaries 300% increase in advance ticket sales

*25% sold out screenings

Media Darling: Super Size Me (US)

Super size, indeed. The buzz around Morgan Spurlock’s first doc – in which he takes on fast food giant McDonald’s by eating nothing but Big Macs and Egg McMuffins for 30 days, to a frightening result – just keeps getting louder. The director has tapped into the issue of the moment – obesity – and the press is hungry for more, devoting cover stories and multi-page features to this doc.

Crowd Pleaser: Word Wars (US)

Eric Chaikin & Julian Petrillo’s slickly packaged examination of four players’ obsession with the board game Scrabble had the audience in stitches for its entire 80-minute run. Quirky yet lovable characters, like the Ebonics-speaking Marlon Hill and the gastrointestinally-challenged Joel Sherman, drew cheers and applause in their quest for the $100,000 national tournament prize.

Hot Ticket: The Take (Canada/Argentina)

This doc, about workers in Buenos Aires who decide to take over the abandoned factories where they were once employed to try to get them running again, was the subject of much over-cocktails chatter. Director Avi Lewis and producer Naomi Klein originally went to Argentina to make a film about poverty. Instead, they stumbled on a story about ordinary people battling global capitalism. Lucky ducks.

Dark Horse: Putin’s Mama (The Netherlands)

Director Ineke Smits introduced Hot Doc-ers to 77-year-old Vera, a feisty woman living in Georgia who’s convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin is her long- lost son. The evidence suggests she might not be wrong. Either way, RealScreen would like to adopt Vera as its Babushka.

Promising New Talent: Juliano Mer Khamis (Israel/The Netherlands)

Who wins awards with a film about their mother? Arna’s Children took best first doc honors at both Hot Docs and New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. Co-directed by Danniel Danniel, the film looks at the human cost of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by revisiting the now-grown men and women who participated in the theatre group Arna Mer, founded in Jenin for Palestinian children.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.