Sundance hits Blood Brother (pictured), Gideon’s Army, Anita, Pussy Riot and The Crash Reel are among the films set for next month’s Hot Docs festival in Toronto, alongside Pennebaker classic The War Room.
The films are among 28 doc features that will be a part of this year’s Special Presentations program, which consists of world and international premieres, award-winners from the recent international festival circuit, and works by celebrated filmmakers.
Among the world premieres lined up for the Canadian festival are Caucus, AJ Schnack’s behind-the-scenes look at the Republican candidates at last year’s Iowa caucus; Prepare For The Worst, Barry Avrich’s portrait of comedy icon David Steinberg; and The Unbelievers, in which Gus Holwerda follows renowned scientists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss as they spread the message of the importance of science.
The festival, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, will also host a special 20th anniversary screening of Oscar-nominated political doc The War Room, with directors DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus in attendance.
“Being able to screen The War Room is especially meaningful for us as the film shares its birthday with Hot Docs and will also be celebrating its 20th anniversary,” said Charlotte Cook, Hot Docs’ director of programming, in a statement. “In addition, this year DA Pennebaker was the first documentarian to receive an Honorary Academy Award, so we hope you can join us to celebrate the numerous achievements and milestones that this film represents.”
The full list of special presentations follows below, with descriptions provided by Hot Docs. The films will screen as part of the 2013 festival, which this year runs from April 25 to May 5. The full film program will be unveiled on March 19.
D: Martha Shane, Lana Wilson | USA | 2013 | 88 min | International Premiere
Personal struggles, compassion and moments of deeply rooted self-doubt reveal a deeply human portrait of the only four remaining doctors willing to provide third-trimester abortions in the U.S.A.
D: Freida Mock | USA | 2013 | 84 min | International Premiere
In 1991, Anita Hill’s powerful testimony against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas brought sexual harassment into America’s national spotlight. For the first time on film, she speaks about the testimony that shaped her life.
D: Steve Hoover | United States | 2012 | 93 min | Canadian Premiere
Surprised by his friend’s sudden move to India to care for HIV-positive orphans, the director follows on what he suspects is a self-centered journey of self-discovery, only to find both their lives forever changed in this Sundance award-winner.
D: AJ Schnack | United States | 2013 | 109 min | World Premiere
Republican leadership hopefuls compete at the 2012 Iowa Caucus amidst a battlefield of county fairs and petting zoos. This is a different behind-the-scenes look at politics, offering remarkable access to candidates and a very unlikely underdog story.
D: Malcolm Ingram | United States, Canada | 2013 | 95 min | Canadian Premiere
Continental is a stylish portrait of the legendary NYC gay bathhouse that became a force for a sexual revolution, where Bette Midler honed her chops and straight celebs rubbed shoulders with hunky men in towels.
The Crash Reel
D: Lucy Walker | USA | 2013 | 100 min | Canadian Premiere
At the height of his career, just days away from the Olympics, championship snowboarder Kevin Pearce was left fighting for his life after a major brain trauma. The Crash Reel is a high adrenaline film about discovering what’s most important.
D: Raoul Peck | France, Haiti, United States, Belgium | 2013 | 100 min | North American Premiere
The director, Haiti’s former minister of culture, reveals international aid to be a resounding failure rife with organizational ineptitude, broken promises and hidden agendas in this eye-opening condemnation post-disaster naiveté.
Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children
D: Patrick Reed | Canada | 2012 | 83 min | Canadian Premiere
When you’ve been to hell and back, how do you shake the memories? Celebrated author and humanitarian General (ret’d) Roméo Dallaire travels to four African countries on a new mission: to end the use of child soldiers.
D: Dawn Porter | USA | 2013 | 96 min | International Premiere
In this study of exceptional grace under extreme pressure, a trio of public defenders makes considerable personal sacrifices to shield their indigent clients from the full weight of the judicial system.
God Loves Uganda
D: Roger Ross Williams | United States | 2013 | 83 min | Canadian Premiere
Uganda has become a battleground between human rights groups and the American Evangelical movement, which uses money and fabrications to promote anti-homosexuality laws, many of which carry mandatory death sentences and create a modern theocracy.
High Five: A Suburban Adoption Saga
D: Julia Ivanova | Canada | 2012 | 95 min | Toronto Premiere
A suburban Canadian couple travel to Ukraine to adopt five siblings, ages 6-16. The successful adoption, however, is just the beginning of a four-year odyssey to create a family.
Let the Fire Burn
D: Jason Osder | United States | 2013 | 93 min | International Premiere
Why did Philadelphia police bomb a row house occupied by radical group “MOVE” in 1985? What caused authorities to stand idly by for over an hour before fighting the blaze? Using archival material, this film investigates the ultimately tragic conflict.
The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear
D: Tinatin Gurchiani | Georgia, Germany | 2012 | 97 min | Canadian Premiere
In her home country of Georgia, the director organizes a casting call. Collecting a series of “auditions,” she captures extraordinary stories about war, love, dreams and poverty through the eyes of modern-day Georgian youth.
D: Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier | USA | 2013 | 111 min | International Premiere
Mick Jagger, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Gregg Altman, Bono and more share how the tiny backwater town of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, made them stars in one of the greatest untold American music stories.
D: Shaul Schwarz | USA | 2012 | 103 min | Canadian Premiere
With the rise of Mexican drug wars has come a musical culture that glamorizes the violence and those who perpetrate it. Following a new kind of superstar, Narco Cultura delves into the tragic and disturbingly glorified conflict.
D: Penny Lane | United States | 2013 | 85 min | Canadian Premiere
500 reels of long-forgotten super 8 footage unwittingly recorded by three of Richard Nixon’s most trusted associates form the raw material for this revealing behind-the-scenes look at one of the most controversial presidencies in U.S. history.
Prepare For the Worst: The David Steinberg Story
D: Barry Avrich | Canada | 2013 | 80 min | World Premiere
Second only to Bob Hope for guest appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, David Steinberg influenced a generation of comedians from John Belushi to Larry David-not bad for a Jewish kid from Winnipeg.
Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer
D: Maxim Pozdorovkin, Mike Lerner | United Kingdom | 2012 | 86 min | Canadian Premiere
This candid look at Pussy Riot unmasks the brains behind the balaclavas of the next wave of Russian revolutionaries, and shows how one act of protest led to a show trial that captured the world’s attention.
Remote Area Medical
D: Jeff Reichert, Farihah Zaman | USA |2013 | 79 min | International Premiere
Hundreds wait in line for days, hoping for a chance at free basic eye, dental and medical care. This is not Haiti or Darfur, but less than 100 miles from Knoxville, Tennessee, in the heart of the U.S.A.
Rent A Family Inc.
D: Kaspar Astrup Schroder | Denmark | 2012 | 77 min | North American Premiere
I Want To Cheer You Up Ltd. is a one-man operation in Japan. He offers stand-in family members for business or social engagements to those who have secrets, while hiding his own from his family.
D: Kim Longinotto | United Kingdom/India | 2013 | 89 min | Canadian Premiere
Locked in her home for 25 years, a Tamil woman achieves overnight success for a book of poetry illuminating the struggle for independence in a repressive village. Salma exemplifies the perilousness and the necessity of non-conformity.
D: Gus Holwerda | United States | 2013 | 76 min | World Premiere
With their (r)evolutionary creed “believe in science, not God,” renowned scientists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss court controversy, enraging as many as they enlighten. Witness them crusade to replace religion and politics with a far more powerful idea: reason.
D: Marta Cunningham | United States | 2013 | 87 min | Canadian Premiere
In 2008, an eighth-grader shot and killed his openly gay classmate at point blank range for asking him to be his Valentine. This heartbreaking film explores the tragedy and the shocking aftermath.
The War Room
D: Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker | USA | 1993 | 96 min | Special 20th Anniversary Screening
One of the greatest political documentaries of all time, and winner of this year’s Cinema Eye Legacy Award, D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus’ The War Room celebrates its 20th anniversary with Hot Docs. The filmmakers will be in attendance for this special screening.
These Birds Walk
D: Bassam Tariq, Omar Mullick | USA | 2012 | 77 min | Canadian Premiere
The Edhi children’s shelter is a rare safe haven for Karachi’s runaways. Over three years, its cranky founder, a spirited child, and a gold-hearted ambulance driver are filmed, creating a tender portrait of where a city’s most vulnerable and dedicated souls meet.
Which Way Is The Front Line From Here? The Life And Time Of Tim Hetherington
D: Sebastian Junger | United States | 2013 | 78 min | Canadian premiere
In April 2011, filmmaker and photographer Tim Hetherington was killed covering the Libyan civil war. In an intimate portrait by those closest to him, he’s revealed to be as much a humanitarian as he was an artist.
Who Is Dayani Cristal?
D: Marc Silver, Marc Silver | UK, Mexico | 2013 | 80 min | Canadian Premiere
Arizona’s desert claims another migrant’s life. With only the tattoo “Dayani Cristal” as a clue, a search begins across the continent to discover his identity and the people he may have left behind. With Gael García Bernal.
Wrong Time Wrong Place
D: John Appel | Netherlands | 2012 | 80 min | Canadian Premiere
The young survivors of the 2011 Norway attacks recall the tragic events and the role that chance played in placing them in harm’s way, but also in their ultimate survival.