The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival revealed the full lineup for its 2022 edition at a press conference in Toronto on Wednesday (March 29), which was attended by 20 of the filmmakers featured in this year’s selection.
The 29th edition of the festival, which runs from April 28 to May 8, marks a return to an in-person format after the all-virtual 2021 event. It will present 226 films hailing from 63 countries, and will feature 63 world and 47 international premieres. The festival has stated that 49% of the official selections were directed by women, maintaining its commitment to a roughly 50-50 gender split.
All official selections will also be available for online viewing across Canada via the festival’s streaming platform, Hot Docs at Home.
Today’s press conference, held at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, presented highlights from all 15 screening programs in the festival and revealed this year’s opening-night film, In the Weeds, directed by Jennifer Baichwal (Manufactured Landscapes, Watermark). The new doc, about a groundskeeper who takes on a multi-national agrochemical corporation following his terminal cancer diagnosis, will make its world premiere at Hot Docs.
Hot Docs already rolled out a number of films included in its Special Presentations program over the past two weeks. Several high-profile films from this year’s Sundance and SXSW festivals were named, including award winners like Navalny, The Exiles, Aftershock, and Fire of Love, the latter of which was a participant in the festival’s 2021 Forum event.
The Canadian Spectrum program of new works by Canadian filmmakers includes world premieres of such films as Don’t Come Searching, about a migrant worker in Canada who returns to his native Jamaica bearing tragic news; Okay! (The ASD Band Film), which follows four musicians on the autism spectrum as they prepare for their first live performance; and Bernie Langille Wants to Know What Happened to Bernie Langille, which accompanies a Halifax man as he sets out to discover the truth behind the mysterious, long-ago death of his same-named grandfather. The latter is a feature-length version of a short that was screened at Hot Docs 2019.
This year’s International Spectrum includes world premieres of Blue Island, which covers the aftermath of the crackdown on the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement; Boylesque, about an out-and-proud Polish octogenarian confronting the open homophobia of his homeland; and Delikado, about land defenders in the Philippines standing against corruption, intimidation and violence.
Following last year’s spotlight on Colombia, this year’s edition of the Made in program journeys to Chile to showcase the work of the country’s domestic documentarians. Included are the world premieres of Meeting Point, about the notorious torture camps of the Pinochet regime, and On Suspicion Zokunentu, which interrogates Chile’s colonial past through the filmmaker’s encounter with his uncle’s artwork.
The World Showcase program features world premieres including Shooting War, a study of photojournalists in war zones; And Still I Sing, about two young singers competing to be the first female winners of the Afghan Star reality competition on the eve of the Taliban’s return to power; and Queer My Friends, an intimate portrait that follows the Korean filmmaker’s best friend over several years as he realizes his identity as a gay man.
World premieres in Artscapes, a strand that centers artistic pursuits and creative minds, include How Saba Kept Singing, in which a 94-year-old Auschwitz survivor finally recounts his experiences in the camp to his family; and For Real, a portrait of the French Cameroonian rapper Ichon.
Nightvision, a program of docs with a midnight-movie vibe, this year features the world premiere of F**ck It Up!, about how punk band Towers of London made a self-inflicted inferno of a potentially career-making record deal, and the international premiere of the SXSW selection Crows are White, about the relationship between a Muslim filmmaker and a highly unorthodox Buddhist monk.
Persister, a program dedicated to docs about women speaking up and fighting for change, includes the world premieres of Category: Woman, which scrutinizes the policing of female athletes’ bodies; Deconstructing Karen, which brings together several white women at a dinner party for a frank conversation about racism; and Hunting in Packs, which spotlights three female politicians in three different countries (Canada, Australia and the UK), and of three distinctly different ideological streaks, each of whom is fighting in their own way to overturn their respective political establishments.
Named for French essay-film master Chris Marker, the Markers program of works that push the boundaries of the documentary form enters its third year with the Canadian premiere of legendary experimental filmmaker James Benning’s The United States of America, a new work that shares its title with the landmark 1975 film that Benning made with fellow filmmaker Bette Gordon.
Atomic Hope – Inside the Pro-Nuclear Movement is one of the world premieres in The Changing Face of Europe, a program that charts the continent’s ongoing transformations and its reckonings with its past. Debuting this year, the Hidden Histories program takes those reckonings further by spotlighting stories of injustice, struggle and trauma that have long been buried.
The Deep Dive spotlight on episodic non-fiction series will include the world premiere of We’re All Gonna Die (Even Jay Baruchel), in which the Canadian-born actor and comedian investigates the respective likelihoods of six end-of-the-world scenarios.
The retrospective section of the festival’s programming comprises three strands that pay tribute to the works of filmmakers who have made important contributions to the documentary field. This year’s Canadian-focused Redux program honors the duo of Janis Cole and Holly Dale, directors of Hookers on Davie (1984) and P4W: Prison for Women (1981); and the non-fiction work of lauded Inuk filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk, director of Atanarjuat – The Fast Runner. Another Canadian filmmaker, Quebec’s Raymonde Provencher, will be the subject of the Focus on program, which will include both theatrical and online-only screenings.
Finally, this year’s recipient of Hot Docs’ Outstanding Achievement Award, Indian documentarian Anand Patwardhan, will be saluted with a three-film retro program. The award’s 2020 recipient, Stanley Nelson, will also be recognized at this year’s festival via a screening of last year’s Oscar-nominated Attica and the international premieres of his two new works, Becoming Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman: Visions of Freedom, both co-directed with Nicole London.
“It’s been nearly three years since we last had a live festival, and we are elated to be able to bring these outstanding, outspoken stories to Toronto cinemas and online across Canada,” said Hot Docs director of programming Shane Smith, in a statement released in conjunction with today’s press conference. “This year’s program speaks directly to many of today’s most urgent issues and will leave audiences energized, inspired and, in some cases, outraged.”