Hot Docs reveals Special Presentation selections

The latest docs from James Marsh and Alex Gibney join Sundance and Berlinale award winners as part of Hot Doc's Special Presentation selections, announced Tuesday. (Pictured: Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey)
March 16, 2011

Alex Gibney and James Marsh’s latest documentaries,  as well as Sundance and Berlinale award winners are all part of the Special Presentation selections for the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, taking place from Aroil 28 – May 8 in Toronto.

“Our Special Presentations program is the closest documentary gets to glitz and glamour,” says Hot Docs director of programming Sean Farnel, in a statement released Tuesday, “but behind that glitz and glamour is a program grounded in reality, offering compelling glimpses into the epic life of a chimpanzee and a club king, the champions of ultimate fighting and gay porn, and the unique complexities of living day-to-day as a reincarnated prophet, a beloved puppeteer, or the son of Cher.”

Listing the films alphabetically, the Special Presentations appearing at the festival include The Advocate For Fagdom, from director Angélique Bosio, which will have its North American premiere. The doc focuses on director Bruce LaBruce, billed as a “Romantic-Queercore-punk-zombie pornographer.”

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest is the directorial debut of actor Michael Rapaport, documenting hip hop pioneers A Tribe Called Quest as they reunite.

BEING ELMO: A Puppeteer’s Journey, the Sundance Film Festival special jury prize winner, is making its Canadian debut. The Constance Marks-directed film goes behind the scenes at Sesame Street to tell the story of puppeteer Kevin Clash, creator of Muppet Elmo.

Directed by World of Wonder’s Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, Becoming Chaz tells the story of Sonny Bono and Cher’s child’s gender reassignment journey, from Chastity to Chaz Bono.

Hot Docs will have the Canadian premiere of Blood in the Mobile, from filmmaker Frank Poulsen, which examines the eastern Congo mine that is linked to violence in the region.

Bobby Fischer Against The World is a 93-minute look at the rock star of the chess world, who went from an American Cold War hero to a vilified, paranoid recluse. It’s directed by Elizabeth Garbus.

Buck, from director Cindy Meehl, won the Audience Award at Sundance for its depiction of a real-life horse whisperer.

Filmmaker Lee Hirsch is behind The Bully Project, a look at the bullying epidemic in America.

Iconic actress Carol Channing gets the documentary treatment from director Dori Berinstein, with the international premiere of Carol Channing: Larger Than Life.

For those who couldn’t snag a ticket to Conan O’Brien’s Legally Prohibited To Be Funny On Television comedy tour, Rodman Flender’s film Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop documents the ex-Tonight Show host’s 32-day tour.

Isreali film Dolphin Boy, from Dani Menkin, examines dolphin-assisted therapy through the tale of a boy who suffered a brutal beating and is apparently healed by dolphins.

FIGHTVILLE, from directors Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein, brings the cameras into the Ultimate Fighting Championship cage.

The Good Life is a film from Denmark that follows Anne Mette, born with a silver spoon and now fortuneless, and her mother. It is directed by Eva Mulvad.

Hopeful child actors and their families converging in an Oakwood apartment complex are the focus of Dylan Nelson and Dan Sturman’s film The Hollywood Complex.

Berlinale audience award winner, In Heaven, Underground: The Jewish Cemetery in Berlin-Weissensee, will screen at the festival. The doc from Britta Wauer focuses on a 130-year-old Jewish cemetery.

Limelight gets into the seedy underbelly of New York nightclub Limelight,  infamous in the ’80s and ’90s. Director Billy Corben focuses on Limelight creator Peter Gatien and the business that nearly destroyed him.

The making of the new CD from musician Ron Sexsmith and producer Bob Rock, Long Player Late Bloomer, is at the heart of Love Shines, from director Douglas Arrowsmith.

Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood’s film on the Merry Pranksters and their infamous LSD-fuelled American road trip is documented in Magic Trip.

South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba is the subject of Mama Africa, from director Mika Kaurismäki.

Seong-Gyou Lee’s My Barefoot Friend tells the story of a 55-year-old rickshaw driver in Calcutta.

My Reincarnation explores destiny and the divine in a doc about Italian-born Yeshi, whose father is a high Tibetan master and himself is the reincarnation of a famous spiritual teacher. Director Jennifer Fox followed the father and son for 20 years.

An assembly of documentary filmmakers and musicians worked on The National Parks Project, a love letter to Canada’s wilderness to mark Parks Canada’s centennial. The directors include Louise Archambault, Keith Behrman, Daniel Cockburn, Hubert Davis, Sturla Gunnarsson, Zacharias Kunuk, Stéphane Lafleur, Peter Lynch, Catherine Martin, Kevin McMahon, Scott Smith, Jamie Travis and John Walker.

IDFA award winner Position Among the Stars will make its Canadian premiere. The finale in director Leonard Retel Helmrich’s trilogy is a portrait of an urbanized family in Jakarta’s slums.

Project Nim is James Marsh’s (Man on Wire) biography of “Nim Chimpsky”, the chimpanzee at the center of a 1970s experiment that proved an ape could communicate with sign language.

Asif Kapadia’s Senna is a biography of Brazilian racing superstar Ayrton Senna, who died behind the wheel.

Lastly, Vodka Factory gives an intimate look at a single mother working on an assembly line in Russia’s backwoods. It is directed by Jerzy Sladkowski.

In addition, Hot Docs has announced that a record nine official delegations will be attending the festival, conference and market. The delegations will hail from Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, the Nordic region, South Africa, the UK and U.S.

The remainder of the films screening, including the festival opener, will be announced at a later date.

Legally Prohibited To Be Funny On Television
About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.