First Nations/Métis filmmaker Tasha Hubbard’s feature-length documentary nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up has been selected as the opening night film for the 2019 edition of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.
The Toronto-set fest unveiled its complete film lineup at a press conference today (March 19), with 234 films and 18 interdisciplinary projects being chosen from 2,951 film submissions for the event’s 26th edition. Of those selected, work by female filmmakers represented 54% of the 2019 program.
Hubbard’s 98-minute nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (pictured) documents a grieving family’s pursuit of justice that becomes a flashpoint of the inequity and racism in the Canadian legal system after the killer of Saskatchewan Cree man Colten Boushie is acquitted of murder charges. The film is a Downstream Documentary and National Film Board of Canada production.
Notable films screening in the previously announced Special Presentations program include: the world premieres of Laurie Lynd’s Killing Patient Zero, which looks at the impact of the 1980s AIDS epidemic and clears the name of the Québécois flight attendant known as “patient zero”; Mark Franchetti and Andrew Meier’s Our Godfather, about the family of a Sicilian mob boss that came out of hiding to reveal how he helped convict 400-plus Mafioso; and Phyllis Ellis’ Toxic Beauty, in which whistleblowers expose the cosmetic industry’s dirty secrets.
Films screening in the World Showcase program include Julia Horn’s Dear Brother, which documents the efforts of one man to keep his comatose brother alive through a one-sided dialogue of music, videos and touch; Suzan Beraza’s Massacre River, detailing how thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent were left stateless after their citizenship is ruled invalid; Jason DaSilva’s When We Walk, which follows the filmmaker as he confronts the inequity of the U.S. Medicaid system while battling multiple sclerosis; Hye-Ryeong Park’s The Wandering Chef, tracing a celebrity Korean chef as he mourns the death of a beloved maternal figure through cooking; and Oisín Kearney’s Bojayá: Caught In The Crossfire, which documents one of the worst massacres in the 50-year conflict between the Colombian military and FARC guerillas.
Also debuting in the World Showcase are Mijie Li’s Confucian Dream, following a young Chinese wife who discovers Confucianism; Aisha Jamal’s A Kandahar Away, which traces the journey of a family originally from Kandahar, Afghanistan as they move to Kandahar, Saskatchewan on the Canadian Prairies; Alban Teurlai and Thierry Demaizière’s Lourdes, exploring the small town in southern France that serves as one of the world’s most important pilgrimage sites; and Lily Zepeda’s Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man, documenting an entrepreneur’s mission to solve the global sanitation crisis.
In the Canadian Spectrum program, which explores issues affecting Canadians and the country, world premiering films include Hubbard’s nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up; Matt Gallagher’s Prey, following a survivor of sexual abuse as he takes on the Catholic Church in an Ontario court; Phillip Pike’s Our Dance of Revolution, an examination of Toronto’s four-decade-old Black LGBTQ community and its local legends; and Ingrid Veninger’s The World or Nothing, where twin brothers migrate, among others.
In the Canadian Spectrum program, which explores issues affecting Canadians and the country, world premiering films include Hubbard’s nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up; Matt Gallagher’s Prey, following a survivor of sexual abuse as he takes on the Catholic Church in an Ontario court; Phillip Pike’s Our Dance of Revolution, an examination of Toronto’s four-decade-old Black LGBTQ community and its local legends; Ingrid Veninger’s The World or Nothing, which provides an intimate portrait of 29-year-old Cuban twin brothers as they travel to Spain in pursuit of internet stardom; and Rogério Soares’ River Silence, about the destruction of the Amazon’s ancient ecosystems and displacement of thousands due to the construction of one of the world’s largest dams.
Elsewhere, the International Spectrum will screen the world premieres of Nicole Schafer’s Buddha In Africa, which traces a Malawian boy raised in a Chinese Buddhist orphanage as he teeters on the brink of a decision that will change his life forever; Marcela Arteaga’s The Guardian Of Memory, chronicling Mexicans fleeing state-sponsored violence in search of a better life in an unwelcoming U.S.; and Nuno Escudeiro’s The Valley, documenting the human rights crisis unfolding on the French-Italian border.
This year’s Big Ideas Series will include such guests as: contemporary artist, activist and director Ai Weiwei discussing The Rest; CRISPR biochemist Jennifer Doudna discussing Adam Bolt’s Human Nature; Willie O’Ree, the first Black hockey player to play in the NHL, discussing Laurence Mathieu-Leger’s Willie; Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot discussing Joan Tosoni and Martha Kehoe’s Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind; and whistleblower Deane Berg, Dr. Daniel Cramer of the Harvard Cancer Center and Dr. Ami Zota of George Washington University discussing Ellis’ Toxic Beauty.
The previously announced Made In Italy program includes: Beniamino Barrese’s Disappearance of My Mother; Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi’s Dicktatorship; Brunella Filì’s Alla Salute; Francesca Mannocchi and Alessio Romenzi’s ISIS, Tomorrow. The Lost Souls of Mosul; Claudia Tosi’s I Had a Dream; Valentina Primavera’s Una Primavera; and Alessandro Cassigoli and Casey Kauffman’s Butterfly.
Screening in the DocX category, a section dedicated to celebrating documentaries that feature virtual reality and interactive experiences, are Anthropocene: Carrara, Anthropocene: Ivory Burn and Anthropocene: Dandora, three VR experiences from directors Nicholas de Pencier, Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky; and the VR documentary Traveling While Black from directors Roger Ross Williams, Ayesha Nadarajah, Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël.
The festival’s Focus On program, meanwhile, will spotlight the work of Canadian filmmaker Julia Ivanova, including retrospective titles as well as the world premiere of My Dads, My Moms and Me, a new film by the director. Hot Docs will also present the Outstanding Achievement Award Retrospective, which celebrates the work of American documentarian Julia Reichert.
The full lineup for the 26th annual Hot Docs festival can be found here.
The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival runs from April 25 to May 5.