Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hot Docs 2014: Absences


In her latest film, director Carole Laganière (East End Kids) explores four subjects, each with a different story of absence.  Absences is inspired by Laganière’s own experiences with her mother, whose memory is slowly disappearing, as a result of Alzheimer's syndrome.  The film also tells the story of Ines, who returns to Croatia to find her mother, Deni, who learns of his Quebec heritage following his father’s death, and Nathalie, who is desperately searching for her missing sister.  Through these stories of loss, Absences captures the experience of a void that is waiting to be filled.

Hot Docs 2014: Miraculous Tales


Mickey McGuigan has lived for 73 years in the small village of Carrive in County Armagh, Northern Ireland.  With farming on a downturn, the only booming business in the village is its fireworks factory.  However, McGuigan argues that there is another booming business in the area – cures and miracles.  He has set upon himself to collect stories of healers in the area.  This includes a woman who can stop babies crying with a piece of string and preacher who speaks in tongues and acts as a faith healer.  These tales demonstrate that pagan folklore is alive and well in the modern age.

Hot Docs 2014: Four Letters Apart – Children in the Age of ADHD


Lindevangskolen is a special needs school in Denmark, which treats kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  Four Letters Apart – Children in the Age of ADHD follows three kids at the school, each with their own different sets of problems; Martino has a habit of acting out violently, Martine regularly has tantrums, and Victor regularly fights with other kids and has low self-esteem.  The film follows these kids over the course of a year, as they learn to cope with their ADHD, without the need for medication like Ritalin.

Hot Docs 2014: Kalyug


The old world meets the modern world in director Juri Mazumdar’s debut feature Kalyug. Somewhere in India, a group gathers around a campfire to hear stories about the dark age, Kalyug, where humans were living in a bad way.  These ancient stories are then brought into the modern age, with stories about poverty, AIDS, loss and guilt.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hot Docs 2014: American Interior


Welsh musician Gruff Rhys is the distant relative of 18th century explorer John Evans.  Evans left Wales for America in 1792, hoping to find a fabled tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans.  Along the way, Evans was responsible for doing much of the early mapping of the American interior.  Hoping to find the location of John Evans’ gravesite, Rhys decides to go on a Investigative Concert Tour™, where he follows Evans’ route across America.  Along the way, he writes and performs songs about Evans, while telling his story via a PowerPoint presentation and puppet replica.

Hot Docs 2014: The Overnighters


A booming oil industry results in flocks of people migrating to the town of Williston, North Dakota, in the search for work. With many of these people having no place to stay, Jay Reinke, Pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church, begins an “overnighters” program, where he allows outsiders to either sleep inside the church or park their cars or RVs in the parking lot.  However, as the number of overnighters grow, the rest of the community begin to become wary of these outsiders.  When some revelations about some of the people Reinke has been sheltering becomes public, it endangers both the overnighters program and Reinke’s career as Pastor.

Hot Docs 2014: Harmontown


From director Neil Berkeley (Beauty Is Embarrassing) comes this documentary about Community-creator Dan Harmon’s 20-city comedy tour of the United States.  Harmon has always been one to strive for perfection, which consequently made him quite hard a man to work with. When he found himself in-between jobs in 2013, after being fired from Community, Harmon decided to take his popular podcast Harmontown on the road. The tour allows Harmon to reflect on the state of his life and how should probably think about finally growing up.

Hot Docs 2014: The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz


The opening film of Hot Docs 2014 tells the story of Aaron Swartz.  Swartz began as a programmer at a very young age and he helped co-found the website reddit.  He then focused himself on helping bring public access to the public domain, which got Swartz into trouble. He was arrested for using the servers at MIT to mass download research papers from the online library JSTOR.  Facing 35 years in prison, Swartz was tragically found dead in his apartment at the age of 26.  The Internet’s Own Boy takes a look at Swartz’s life and asks the question why the government thought that he should be made an example, in their fight against online terrorism.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hot Docs 2014: Films to Watch


We are just a couple days a way from the start of the 2014 edition of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. I have been quite busy over the course of the last month preparing my self for my coverage of the festival, which is shaping up to be the most in-depth film festival coverage I have ever done.  Before my coverage officially begins tomorrow, I thought that I will take the time and offer some early recommendations, all of which are playing within the first few days of the festival.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Blindspot 2014: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

lock_stock_and_two_smoking_barrelsFor this month’s blindspot, I go back to 1998 and the debut film of British director Guy Ritchie, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.  Four friends, Eddie (Nick Moran), Tom (Jason Flemyng), Bacon (Jason Statham), and Soap (Dexter Fletcher), pool together £100,000 as the buy-in for a high-stakes card game Eddie is playing against crime boss “Hatchet” Harry Lonsdale (P.H. Moriarty).  However, the game was rigged and Eddie and his friends finds themselves £500,000 in debt, with only a week to pay up.  So begins a series of events, which also involves the towering debt collector Big Chris (Vinnie Jones), a gang of thieves, a marijuana grow-op, and a pair of antique shotguns.