Hot Docs opening with Spurlock’s product placement feature

This morning's Hot Docs press conference revealed the Toronto fest's opening film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, as well as the Doc Mogul and Focus On retrospective honorees and also teased with info on a new international production fund.
March 22, 2011

(With files from Etan Vlessing, Playback Daily)

The press conference for the upcoming Hot Docs festival and conference unveiled the Toronto event’s opening film, Morgan Spurlock’s product placement/advertising opus The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, as well as the Doc Mogul and Focus On retrospective honorees and also revealed a little info about a new international production fund.

Hot Docs executive director Chris McDonald stated that Morgan Spurlock’s product placement doc is a “smart and incisive look” at our “hyperbranded world.”

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold will kick off Hot Docs on April 28, ahead of the 199 films screening at the 13-day long documentary festival. Director of programming Sean Farnell joked of the opening night, “All of our sponsors will be there for Morgan Spurlock’s opening film. It’ll be like an intervention.”

McDonald also mentioned a new international production fund that will launch at this year’s fest, with the promise of more details at a later date.

The special presentations, announced previously,  will be complemented with 36 Canadian Spectrum documentaries, which include Eco Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson;  Mighty Jerome; The Guantanamo Trap and Grinders, which explores the underground world of illegal poker clubs.

The Doc Mogul award will be given to Ally Derks, the director of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), while Toronto filmmaker Alan Zweig (A Hard Name, Vinyl) will be the star of the Focus On retrospective.

“I wouldn’t be here without Hot Docs,” said Zweig at the press conference.

Terrence McCartney Filgate will also be honored with an Outstanding Achievement Award for his work with the National Film Board of Canada.

In all, around 2000 doc submissions were boiled down to 199 titles from 43 countries to unspool at Hot Docs’ upcoming 18th edition. The festival is boosting its slate by around 30%, and will screen films for the first time in satellite Toronto neighbourhoods, including The Beaches and Roncesvalles.

Hot Docs director of programming Sean Farnel said indie doc makers this year are busily rejigging the medium amid reduced film financing and new market opportunities.

 “What we’re seeing is a form reinventing itself. We have scripted docs, 3D docs, directors becoming fictional characters in their own films,” he said.

 “Non-fiction continues to expand, to deal with stories and issues of our times. We haven’t lost sight of the stories themselves,” Farnel added.

Hot Docs runs from April 28 to May 8, with its awards ceremony taking place May 6.

(Photo by Daniel Marracino, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

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