Hot Docs ’18 reveals Special Presentations program

Morgan Neville‘s profile of iconic children’s entertainer Mr. Rogers and Tommy Avallone’s Bill Murray doc are among the 15 features slated to screen as part of the Special Presentations program ...
February 27, 2018

Morgan Neville‘s profile of iconic children’s entertainer Mr. Rogers and Tommy Avallone’s Bill Murray doc are among the 15 features slated to screen as part of the Special Presentations program for Hot Docs 2018.

The program features a collection of world and international premieres, award winners from the international festival circuit and “works by master filmmakers or featuring some star subjects.”

Notable projects heading to the Toronto-set festival include Neville’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (pictured), which provides an intimate portrait of Fred Rogers; Avallone’s Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man, an investigative doc in search of the acclaimed actor; Lisa D’Apolito‘s Tribeca-opening documentary Love, Gilda about the late, legendary comedian Gilda Radner; and Don Argott’s Believer, which follows Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds as he struggles with his faith.

Also included in the program is Jean-Simon Chartier’s world premiering feature Playing Hard. The 90-minute project documents a Montreal game studio’s efforts to roll out a potential battle blockbuster while navigating internal and industry strife.

The 2018 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival Hot Docs runs April 26 to May 6.

The complete Special Presentations program and the full selection of films to screen at Hot Docs will be announced on March 20, including the 2018 opening night film.

Special Presentation titles appear below, with descriptions provided by Hot Docs: 

D: Mohamed Siam | Lebanon, Egypt, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark | 2017 | 83 min | North American Premiere

Filmed over six turbulent years following the Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt, a feisty 14-year-old activist grows before our eyes into a commanding young woman, searching for her identity in a tinderbox of political turmoil and patriarchal systems.

Anote’s Ark
D: Matthieu Rytz | Canada | 2018 | 77 min | Canadian Premiere

As rising sea levels threaten to swallow the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, its president races against the clock to secure the future of a population doomed to be among the world’s first climate change refugees.

D: Don Argott | USA | 2017 | 101 min | Canadian Premiere

Imagine Dragons frontman and devout Mormon Dan Reynolds struggles to reconcile his faith with his church’s hardening stance on homosexuality, and finds himself on a mission to combat growing suicide rates among Utah’s LGBTQ youth. Produced by Live Nation Productions.

Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man
D: Tommy Avallone | USA | 2018 | 70 min | International Premiere

“Bill Murray crashed my karaoke party.” “Bill Murray photobombed our engagement pictures.”  Everyone knows someone with a “Bill Murray” story, but this inspirational and drop-dead-funny detective doc hunts down the myths and the man.

Chef Flynn
D: Cameron Yates | USA | 2018 | 83 min | Canadian Premiere

When a 10-year-old prodigy launches a restaurant in his parents’ house, his culinary creations lead to collaborations with some of the world’s best chefs and a New York Times Magazine cover. But with his career set to take off, can he handle the heat?

The Cleaners
D: Hans Block, Moritz Riesewieck | Germany, Brazil | 2018 | 88 min | Canadian Premiere

Dive into the shadowy world of internet content moderators, where fingers hovering over the delete key judge within seconds the lines between art and pornography, journalism and propaganda, censorship and free speech—with far-reaching consequences both online and off. 

Constructing Albert
D: Laura Collado, Jim Loomis | Spain, Estonia | 2017 | 82 min | Canadian Premiere

In the high-stakes world of haute cuisine, legendary Catalonian restaurant elBulli casts a long shadow—but when it closes, the head chef’s younger brother draws on his long-unrecognized creative genius to fight for his own culinary vision. 

The Devil We Know
D: Stephanie Soechtig | USA | 2018 | 88 min | International Premiere

Citizen activists unravel one of the largest environmental scandals of our time when West Virginian residents discover DuPont has been dumping a toxic chemical into the water supply—one that’s now found in the blood of over 99% of the world’s population. 

Inventing Tomorrow
D: Laura Nix | USA | 2018 | 105 min | Canadian Premiere

Roused by the issues faced by their own communities, brilliant young minds from around the globe gather in Los Angeles for the world’s largest high school science fair, tackling environmental crises with ingenuity, inspiration and hope. 

Love, Gilda
D: Lisa D’Apolito | USA | 2018 | 84 min | International Premiere

The vulnerable and effusive spirit of beloved comedian Gilda Radner is brought to life through newly discovered audio recordings, home movies, interviews with friends and diary entries read by performers she’s inspired, including Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph. 

On Her Shoulders
D: Alexandria Bombach | USA | 2018 | 94 min | International Premiere

After surviving enslavement and genocide, a resilient young Yazidi woman is thrust onto the international stage as a spokesperson for those who’ve suffered at the hands of ISIS, where she must learn to navigate bureaucracy, fame and good intentions.

The Oslo Diaries
D: Mor Loushy, Daniel Sivan | Canada, Israel | 2018 | 98 min | Canadian Premiere

Once upon a time, Israel and Palestine almost made peace. Personal diaries and never-before-seen archival footage bring raw emotion and new insights to the secret, complex negotiations—and eventual failure—of the Oslo Accords peace process. 

Playing Hard
D: Jean-Simon Chartier | Canada, USA | 2018 | 90 min | World Premiere

A powerhouse Montreal game studio finally greenlights its next potential blockbuster, but egos and artistry collide with the bottom line as everything rides on the epic battle game—featuring samurais, knights and Vikings—hitting the jackpot. 

Three Identical Strangers
D: Tim Wardle | USA | 2018 | 96 min | Canadian Premiere

In 1980 in New York, three teenagers discover by chance that they’re triplets who were separated at birth. Despite disparate upbringings, they enjoy their newfound fraternity and fame until relationships unravel under the dark mystery surrounding their adoptions.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
D: Morgan Neville | USA | 2018 | 93 min | International Premiere

Mr. Rogers created a neighbourhood in which he connected with children through honesty, directness and love, while delicately introducing complex social issues. His work continues to resonate today, but have we failed to become the neighbours he hoped for?

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