Maya Gallus’ “The Heat” to open Hot Docs ’18

The NFB also has 21 projects participating in the festival, which this year sees 50% of its titles led by women filmmakers.
March 20, 2018

Canadian documentary filmmaker Maya GallusThe Heat: A Kitchen Revolution (pictured) will heat up the opening night of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

The Toronto-set fest unveiled its complete film lineup at a press conference today (March 20), with 246 films and 16 interdisciplinary projects being chosen from more than 3,000 submissions for the event’s 25th edition. Of those selected, work by female filmmakers represented 50% of the 2018 program.

Gallus’ The Heat was named a Hot Docs Ted Rogers Fund recipient earlier in February. Making its world premiere at the fest, her doc about seven women chefs working in the world of professional cooking was one of six receiving a portion of CDN$103,000 in financial support.

Notable films also screening in the previously announced Special Presentations program include: Jack Bryan’s Active Measures, a deep-dive into Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election; Steve and Todd Jones’ Andy Irons: Kissed By God, profiling the legendary surfing champion and his struggles with mental illness; and Daniel J. Clark’s Behind the Curve, which looks at the rise of “flat Earth” believers.

Films screening in the World Showcase program include Paula Eiselt’s 93Queen, about the first all-female ambulance corps in an Orthodox Brooklyn community; Assia Boundaoui’s The Feeling of Being Watched, which uncovers one of the largest FBI terrorism probes conducted before 9/11; PJ Raval’s Call Her Ganda, about the brutal murder of a transgender woman by a U.S. Marine in the Philippines; and Håvard Bustnes’ Golden Dawn Girls, which reveals the women who take the reins of Greece’s ultra-nationalist party after its leaders are jailed.

Also debuting in the World Showcase are Cynthia Wade and Sasha Friedlander’s Grit, which sees the evolution of a young activist fighting for reparations 10 years after an industrial accident in Indonesia; Azadi R. Moghadam’s The Broker, which offers a glimpse into the goings-on at an Iranian dating agency; Cassidy Friedman’s Circles, about a high school counselor who swaps zero tolerance for restorative justice; and Vadym Ilkov’s My Father Is My Mother’s Brother, a touching family narrative about a bohemian singer/artist who becomes a father to his young niece when his sister’s mental health deteriorates.

To honor Hot Docs’ 25th anniversary, there will be a screening of Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker’s The War Room (produced by Pennebaker Hegedus Films), and Alanis Obomsawin’s  Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance. The Toronto doc fest will also have a free world premiere IMAX screening of director Stephen Low’s The Trolley at the Ontario Place Cinesphere. Low’s doc examines the history of this mode of public transit through visits to 34 countries around the world.

This year’s Big Ideas Series will include such guests as: director Morgan Neville and co-director of the Fred Rogers Center Dr. Junlei Li discussing the Fred Rogers doc Won’t You Be My Neighbor?; director Cynthia Lowen, founder of Feminist Frequency Anita Sarkeesian and victims’ rights attorney Carrie Goldberg, discussing Netizens; directors Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck and assistant professor of information studies, UCLA, Dr. Sarah T. Roberts, discussing The Cleaners; director Mattieu Rytz and former president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, discussing Anote’s Ark; and rapper, singer-songwriter, record producer and activist M.I.A., in town to discuss MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A.

Meanwhile, 21 NFB docs were selected for this years’ Hot Docs lineup. Julien Fréchette’s My War about four Western volunteers who’ve decided to battle ISIS is among those making its world premiere at the festival.

World premieres in the Canadian Spectrum program, which explores issues affecting Canadians and the country, are The Guardians, produced by No Equal Entertainment and directed by Billie Mintz and exploring the corruption of Nevada’s guardianship system; Letter from Masanjia, following the mystery behind an SOS letter written by a Chinese political prisoner that turns up in Oregon’s Halloween decorations, and directed by Leon Lee and produced by Flying Cloud Productions; This Mountain Life, about a 60-year-old mother and daughter’s trek through the Rocky Mountains, and directed by Grant Baldwin and produced by Peg Leg Films; and United We Fan a doc on how superfans of famous TV shows fight to keep them on air, from Pancakes and Eggs Productions and directed by Michael Sparaga. Harvest Moon, from director Zaheed Mawani and produced by Medium Density Fibreboard Films, will also have its North American premiere in the category.

In the DocX category, a section dedicated to celebrating documentaries that feature virtual reality and interactive experiences, is EyeSteelFilms’ Anote’s Ark, a VR experience and photo exhibit from director Matthieu Rytz.

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

From Playback Daily, with files from Daniele Alcinii and Barry Walsh

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