New docs from Rothwell, Byrne head to Hot Docs

A new documentary from How to Change the World director Jerry Rothwell and Brendan Byrne's Bobby Sands: 66 Days (pictured) will have their world premieres at next month's Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.
March 15, 2016

A new documentary from How to Change the World  director Jerry Rothwell and Brendan Byrne’s Bobby Sands: 66 Days (pictured) will have their world premieres at next month’s Hot Docs festival.

The Toronto-set event has revealed 14 more documentaries featured in its Special Presentation program, joining the 15 films announced earlier this month. The section includes a selection of world and international premieres, in addition to stand-out docs from recent international festivals.

Rothwell, who screened his Greenpeace documentary at Hot Docs last year, will return with Sour Grapes. Co-directed with Reuben Atlas, the doc centers on wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan, who deceives the American market with fake vintages valued in the millions. Netflix and ARTE are attached to the film.

Brendan Byrne’s Bobby Sands doc, meanwhile, tackles a turning point in the Troubles in Northern Ireland, as told through the diary entries of the titular activist, while Darby Wheeler’s Hip-Hop Evolution finds Canadian rapper Shad traveling to the Bronx and Harlem to talk with hip-hop icons including Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash.

Rounding out the world premieres is Requiem for the American Dream helmer Jared P. Scott’s latest entry, The Age of Consequences. The climate change doc examines resource scarcity, mass migration and conflict through the lenses of global stability and national security.

International premieres headed to Toronto include Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross’ Contemporary Color, Dawn Porter’s Trapped, Roger Ross Williams’ Life, Animated, Stephanie Soechtig’s Under the Gun, Clay Tweel’s Gleason, and Ferne Pearlstein’s The Last Laugh.

Remaining titles in the Special Presentations program and the full selection of films at the festival are to be announced on March 22, including the opening night selection. Hot Docs runs from April 28 to May 8.

A complete list of newly added Special Presentation titles follows, with synopses provided by Hot Docs:

American Movie
Chris Smith | U.S. | Cinema Eye Legacy Screening
In this beloved cult classic, an aspiring filmmaker struggles to complete a hilariously lo-fi horror film, only to be derailed by personal demons and the staggering ineptitude of his production team.

Bobby Sands: 66 Days
Brendan Byrne | Ireland, UK | World Premiere
This riveting account of a turning point in the Troubles in Northern Ireland is taken straight from the diary of Bobby Sands, who led protests of imprisoned Irish Republicans and a hunger strike with momentous consequences.

Contemporary Color
Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross | U.S. | International Premiere
An extraordinary lineup of top music stars including event mastermind David Byrne of The Talking Heads, Nelly Furtado, St. Vincent and more perform live with 10 “color guard” teams—perfectly synchronized students in pep-rally choreography—in this one-of-a-kind, kaleidoscopic event.

De Palma
Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow | U.S. | Canadian Premiere
From Carrie to Mission: Impossible to Scarface and beyond, Brian de Palma has created some of cinema’s most iconic work. In this career-spanning, funny and candid conversation, he reveals his unique perspective on life, work and the past 50 years in film.

Clay Tweel | U.S. | International Premiere
At age 34, former NFL defensive back and New Orleans hero Steve Gleason was diagnosed with ALS. With limited time left to live, he purposefully records his spirited and inspiring life—a heartfelt time capsule for his newborn son.

Hip-Hop Evolution
Darby Wheeler with Scot McFadyen, Sam Dunn | Canada | World Premiere
Acclaimed Canadian rapper Shad travels to the Bronx and Harlem to talk with hip-hop’s originators and biggest stars—Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash among others—tracing its evolution from underground to global phenomenon.

Life, Animated
Roger Ross Williams | U.S. | International Premiere
Disney cartoons play a key role in helping a young autistic boy communicate and understand the world around him in this moving testament to coming-of-age through fantasy, from Academy Award–winning director Roger Ross Williams.

Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami | Iran, Germany, Switzerland | Canadian Premiere
After her family attempts to sell her into marriage, a young Afghan refugee in Iran channels her frustrations and seizes her destiny through music. Grabbing the mic, she spits fiery rhymes in the face of oppressive traditions.

Sour Grapes
Jerry Rothwell, Reuben Atlas | U.S., UK, France | World Premiere
Controversy erupts when an unassuming young man floods the American wine market with fake vintages valued in the millions, bamboozling the wine world elite, in this humorous and suspenseful tale of an ingenious con on the eve of the 2008 stock market crash.

The Age of Consequences
Jared P. Scott | U.S. | World Premiere
Sounding an alarm over the critical and disturbing effects of societal inaction, this revealing film highlights the irreversible impacts of climate change—resource scarcity, mass migration and conflict—through the lens of global stability and national security.

Dawn Porter | U.S. | International Premiere
American women’s right to abortion is no longer clear, as 288 dubious laws slyly crafted by the right have decimated access. While a watershed Supreme Court battle looms, witness the human stakes of the right to choose.

Under the Gun 
Stephanie Soechtig | U.S. | International Premiere
With razor-sharp arguments and insight, Stephanie Soechtig and Katie Couric (the team behind Fed Up) craft a gripping indictment of American gun culture, meeting communities shattered by shootings and exposing the politics that allow the epidemic of violence to persist.

The Legacy of Frida Kahlo
Tadasuke Kotani | Japan | Canadian Premiere
A renowned Japanese photographer inventories iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s wardrobe and personal belongings, recently discovered 58 years after her death, lending deserved importance to fashion and “women’s work,” while resurrecting the dead through clothing and talismans.

The Last Laugh
Ferne Pearlstein | U.S. | International Premiere
Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Carl Reiner, a 90-year-old Auschwitz survivor and others uproariously debate and test the limits of comedy’s ultimate taboo: how to joke about the Holocaust, or if it’s even ethical to try.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.