Hot Docs ’16 unveils 15 special presentations

Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg's Weiner (pictured) and Werner Herzog's Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World are among the special presentations slated for the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.
March 1, 2016

Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg‘s Sundance award-winning doc Weiner (pictured) and Werner Herzog’s Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World are among the special presentations slated for the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

The spring fest today (March 1) revealed 15 documentary premieres screening as part of its Special Presentations program, consisting of the international and Canadian premieres of various high-profile docs from the festival circuit.

Other Sundance selections joining Weiner - which won the fest’s U.S. Grand Jury Prize for documentary – and Lo and Behold include Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk’s Audrie & Daisy, Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing‘s Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You and Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker’s Unlocking the Cage.

World premieres in the program so far include Beth Murphy’s What Tomorrow Brings, on the first school in an Afghan village to accept female students, and Kevin McMahon’s Spaceship Earth, an astronomic perspective on Earth’s problems.

Here is the complete list of 15 premieres, with synopses provided by Hot Docs:

Ants on a Shrimp
Maurice Dekkers | Netherlands | Canadian Premiere
Foodies rejoice! When celebrity chef René Redzepi of “The World’s Best Restaurant” Noma heads to Tokyo for a five-week pop-up, he pushes his culinary creativity, exacting business model and the very boundaries of food to an outrageously delicious boiling point.

Audrie & Daisy
Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk | USA | International Premiere
Two teenage girls suffer major trauma as victims of devastating and callously filmed sexual assaults. As their heartrending stories unfurl, the dark intersections of social media, bullying, critical misunderstandings surrounding consent and a rigid justice system reveal themselves.

Gary Numan: Android in La La Land
Steve Read, Rob Alexander | UK | Canadian Premiere
Eighties electro-pop pioneer Gary Numan has re-emerged from the wilderness—anxiety, depression and creative block in check—with a renewed love of performing; but is his new hometown of Hollywood ready for this singular British rock star?

I Am the Blues
Daniel Cross | Canada | Canadian Premiere
From smoky juke joints to spirited church halls, this musical travelogue immerses us in the heart of the American South in search of wisdom and rhythm from the last of the original blues legends, including Bobby Rush, Lazy Lester and Barbara Lynn.

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World
Werner Herzog | USA | Canadian Premiere
“Does the internet dream of itself?” Werner Herzog deep dives into the murky morass that is the Internet today—from hacking to cyberbullying, robot sentience to scientific breakthroughs, no bits or bytes are left unturned in this thought-provoking, brain-tickling reverie.

Mr. Gaga
Tomer Heymann | Israel, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany | Canadian Premiere
Stunning performances and rehearsal footage create a feast for the senses, immersing viewers in the creative process of Ohad Naharin, the Israeli choreographer and cultural maverick whose joyous approach has redefined the language of dance.

Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You
Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing | USA | International Premiere
Still feisty in his 90s, Norman Lear transformed television with such groundbreaking sitcoms as All In the Family, Maude and Good Times, which brilliantly injected hot button issues of race, class and feminism into America’s living rooms.

Vanessa Gould | USA | International Premiere
How do you distill a rich life into a mere 500 words? This engrossing encounter with New York Times obituary writers reveals the unexpected joys and existential angst of chronicling lives on the front lines of history.

The Peacemaker
James Demo | USA | International Premiere
From Northern Ireland to Iraq, untrained mediator Padraig O’Malley has brokered agreements in the world’s most intractable conflicts through dogged determination and unorthodox methods, but can this former addict find salvation for himself?

Spaceship Earth
Kevin McMahon | Canada | World Premiere
Illuminating McLuhan’s sentiment that we are all crew on spaceship earth, awesome images of our planet taken from space inspire prominent thinkers, from astronauts to activists, to make an urgent call to solve the problems we’ve created before it’s too late.

Strike a Pose
Ester Gould, Reijer Zwaan | Netherlands, Belgium | Canadian Premiere
The scene-stealing dancers from Madonna’s wildly popular concert doc Truth or Dare open up 25 years later about life after suddenly becoming queer icons at a young and, for some, unready age.

Thank You Del: The Story of the Del Close Marathon
Todd Bieber | USA | International Premiere
An inspiration to iconic improv group Upright Citizens Brigade, under-appreciated comedy giant Del Close is given an uproarious tribute as his students—from Amy Poehler to Bill Murray—recount stories of the pioneering mad genius at work.

Unlocking the Cage
Chris Hegedus, D A Pennebaker | USA | Canadian Premiere
Legendary duo Hegedus and Pennebaker focus their lens on a devoted and savvy lawyer in the midst of a ground-breaking case that seeks legal protection for chimpanzees and, ultimately, equality for all creatures under the law.

Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg | USA | International Premiere
This Sundance Award winner captures up close the epic—and utterly riveting—political meltdown of the titular disgraced ex-congressman as his surprise comeback campaign in the New York mayoralty race crashes and burns amidst new sexting allegations.

What Tomorrow Brings
Beth Murphy | USA | World Premiere
Optimism and excitement imbue a remote Afghanistan village’s first school to accept female students—an all-girls institution founded by an inspiring local woman. As U.S. troops depart, the next generation of Afghans study their past and dream of their future.

Hot Docs runs from April 28 to May 8. The complete Special Presentations program and the full line-up will be announced on March 22, including the festival’s opening night film.

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