Hot Docs to open with Cohen’s “Manor”

The Manor (pictured), the debut documentary from Canadian filmmaker Shawney Cohen, will have its world premiere as the opening night film at this year's Hot Docs festival in Toronto.
March 19, 2013

Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, has unveiled its full line up for 2013, selecting Shawney Cohen’s debut documentary The Manor (pictured) to be its opening night film.

The doc is billed as an “intimate tragi-comic family portrait” looking at the Canadian director’s family-owned strip club in Ontario. It is co-directed by Mike Gallay and produced by Paul Scherzer, and will receive its world premiere at the festival on April 25.

“This is an incredible story and a stunning film,” said Hot Docs director of programming Charlotte Cook in a statement. “To be able to open the festival with a film by a new talent in Canadian filmmaking, Shawney Cohen, is a real joy.”

The film will spearhead a 20th anniversary program of 205 films from 43 countries screening across 11 programs, culled from 2,386 film submissions.

In the Canadian Spectrum program, four-time Emmy winner John Kastner will premiere his doc NCR: Not Criminally Responsible (pictured below), the first part of a two-part project billed as being “a compassionate portrayal of the dilemma between the rights of the mentally ill and the safety of others.” Canadian pubcaster the CBC will air the doc on TV later in the year.

NCR: Not Criminally Responsible

Other Canadian films selected for Hot Docs include Michelle Latimer’s Alias, which “illuminates the lives, music, and dreams of five rappers in Toronto’s street hip-hop scene,” according to the festival; Charles Wilkinson’s Oil Sands Karaoke, which tells the story of oil sands workers “easing their loneliness at their local karaoke bar;” and Nimisha Mukerji’s Blood Relative, which looks at a man’s fight to obtain life-saving medical treatment for young people in India.

Elsewhere, notable films getting their Canadian premieres at the Toronto fest include Jeanie Finlay’s anticipated, BBC-backed doc The Great Hip Hop Hoax; Morgan Matthews’ story of Bigfoot hunters, Shooting Bigfoot; Ben Nabors’ SXSW Award-winner William and the Windmill; and Sini Anderson’s film on feminist icon and Bikini Kill vocalist Kathleen Hanna, The Punk Singer.

In addition to unveiling its film screenings, Hot Docs is also launching a “Big Ideas Series,” sponsored by Scotiabank, which will feature conversations with some of the high-profile subjects appearing in this year’s films.

The inaugural event will present evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, subjects of The Unbelievers; as well as Roméo Dallaire, the subject of Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children; and Anita Hill, the subject of Anita.

“Hot Docs’ audiences have always embraced the idea that great documentaries should be a starting point for great conversations,” said Hot Docs MD Brett Hendrie, adding that the initiative “provides Toronto audiences a special opportunity to hear from leading thinkers who are shaping our shared dialogue on important social, scientific and cultural topics.

“We expect lively and thought-provoking conversations that hold true to the festival’s motto of being outspoken and outstanding.”

As previously reported, Hot Docs will this year honor filmmakers Les Blank and Peter Mettler with retrospectives. And as reported earlier this month, Special Presentations selected to play at this year’s festival include Blood Brother, The Crash Reel, Gideon’s Army (pictured below), Let the Fire Burn, Our Nixon, Salma, Valentine Road and The War Room.

Gideon's Army

This year’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival runs for 11 days from April 25 to May 5.

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