Hot Docs has announced the 26 documentary features that will be a part of this year’s Special Presentations program, including numerous world and international premieres, award-winners from the recent international festival circuit, and a few star subjects (including Conan O’Brien, Chaz Bono, A Tribe Called Quest, Carol Channing, and Elmo).
“Our Special Presentations program is the closest documentary gets to glitz and glamour,” says Hot Docs director of programming Sean Farnel, “but behind that glitz and glamour is a program grounded in reality, offering compelling glimpses into the epic life of a chimpanzee and a club king, the champions of ultimate fighting and gay porn, and the unique complexities of living day-to-day as a reincarnated prophet, a beloved puppeteer, or the son of Cher.”
The full selection of films to screen at Hot Docs 2011 will be announced on March 22, including the 2011 opening night film.
Special Presentation titles appears below, ordered alphabetically:
THE ADVOCATE FOR FAGDOM D: Angélique Bosio | Germany | 92 min | North American Premiere Romantic-Queercore-punk-zombie pornographer, gleeful crusher of cliché, righteousness and repressive politics: Viva Bruce LaBruce! Scintillating film clips and fabulous interviews with John Waters, Harmony Korine, and Gus Van Sant reveal Toronto’s gift to the world.
BEATS, RHYMES & LIFE: THE TRAVELS OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST D: Michael Rapaport | USA | 98 min | International Premiere Actor Michael Rapaport’s directorial debut hits the road with Q-Tip, Phife, Ali and Jarobi, charting the band’s triumphant and turbulent 20-year career as they reunite for a series of sold-out gigs. An authentic portrait of true hip-hop pioneers.
BEING ELMO: A PUPPETEER’S JOURNEY D: Constance Marks | USA | 76 min | International Premiere Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, this Sundance Special Jury Prize winner sneaks us behind the scenes at Sesame Street to reveal the inspirational story of Kevin Clash, shy puppeteer and creator of the world’s favourite Muppet.
BECOMING CHAZ D: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato | USA | 85 min | International Premiere A revealing look at Chaz (formerly Chastity) Bono’s journey through gender reassignment. A reluctant public figure whose parents’ fame thrusts him into the spotlight, the utterly charming and candid Chaz bravely stands up to demystify the transgender experience.
BLOOD IN THE MOBILE D: Frank Piasecki Poulsen | Denmark | 82 min | Canadian Premiere Are the minerals in your mobile phone contributing to the violence in eastern Congo? Filmmaker Frank Poulsen documents one of the world’s most notorious mines and exposes its links to the bloodshed that plagues the region.
BOBBY FISCHER AGAINST THE WORLD D: Elizabeth Garbus | USA | 93 min | Canadian Premiere Bobby Fischer was the rock star of the chess world, but underneath his brilliance lurked a tormented soul. A gripping, impressively researched look at how this American Cold War hero became a vilified, paranoid recluse.
BUCK D: Cindy Meehl | USA | 88 min | Canadian Premiere A real-life horse whisperer overcomes his dark childhood and emerges as kind of an equine-rooted philosopher, proving his own maxim: horses make better people. Unforgettable, and deservedly the winner of an Audience Award at Sundance.
THE BULLY PROJECT D: Lee Hirsch | USA | 94 min | International Premiere Savage teasing, repeated threats, a gun gets pulled – and all this just on the bus ride to school. Filmmaker Lee Hirsch spends a shocking year on the front lines of America’s bullying epidemic.
CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE D: Dori Berinstein | USA | 87 min | International Premiere Broadway powerhouse Carol Channing is as vivacious at 90 as when she first captivated audiences in Hello, Dolly! nearly 50 years ago. Iconic and incomparable, her expansive career – and late-life romance with her junior high sweetheart – is profiled.
CONAN O’BRIEN CAN’T STOP D: Rodman Flender | USA | 89 min | Canadian Premiere Dumped from The Tonight Show and banned from appearing on television, radio or the Internet for six months: what’s a firebrand comic to do? Hit the stand-up road looking for laughs… and revenge. Go, Coco!
DOLPHIN BOY D: Dani Menkin, Yonatan Nir | Israel | 70 min | World Premiere The unexplained wonders of dolphin-assisted therapy are captured on camera in this inspiring tale of a boy who had lost touch with reality after a brutal beating, and the dolphins that helped heal his deep emotional scars.
FIGHTVILLE D: Michael Tucker, Petra Epperlein | USA | 85 min | International Premiere Brutal. Bloody. Beautiful. FIGHTVILLE throws you into the cage with some of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s biggest names to reveal the raw power and focused determination it takes to emerge a champion.
THE GOOD LIFE D: Eva Mulvad | Denmark | 84 min | Canadian Premiere Born with a silver spoon, headstrong daughter Anne Mette yearns for her affluent younger years. Fortune squandered, living together on one modest pension, she and her mother now struggle to keep tempers in check and wine on the table.
THE HOLLYWOOD COMPLEX D: Dylan Nelson, Dan Sturman | USA | 85 min | World Premiere Every spring, thousands of hopeful child actors flock to Hollywood for television’s crushingly competitive “pilot season.” Many stay with their families at the Oakwood apartment complex, a place where dreams are chased at surprising costs.
IN HEAVEN, UNDERGROUND. THE JEWISH CEMETERY IN BERLIN-WEISSENSEE D: Britta Wauer | Germany | 90 min | International Premiere This Berlinale Audience Award winner is an enchanting portrait of a 130-year-old Jewish cemetery in the heart of the German capital. A delightful array of characters celebrates life and the immortality of memories.
LIMELIGHT D: Billy Corben | USA | 101 min | Canadian Premiere The Limelight was one of New York’s most famous nightclubs in the 1980s and 1990s, but beneath its glitzy surface lay a dangerous underworld. Billy Corbin’s doc profiles Limelight creator Peter Gatien and the business of clubbing that nearly destroyed him.
LOVE SHINES D: Douglas Arrowsmith | Canada | 87 min | Toronto Premiere Love and music shine as Ron Sexsmith pairs up with legendary hit-maker Bob Rock for a new CD. Part evocative biopic, this journey into the heart of songwriting also features Elvis Costello, Feist and Daniel Lanois.
MAGIC TRIP D: Alison Ellwood, Alex Gibney | USA | 90 min | Canadian Premiere In 1964, the Merry Pranksters – including Ken Kesey and Kerouac-muse Neal Cassady – embarked on an infamous LSD-fuelled road trip across America. Oscar-winner Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood craft original footage and audio recordings into the year’s trippiest time capsule.
MAMA AFRICA D: Mika Kaurismäki | Germany, South Africa, Finland | 90 min | Canadian Premiere Veteran filmmaker Mika Kaurismäki beautifully illuminates the extraordinary life of South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba. Featuring rare footage and extraordinary music, this film riveted audiences at the Berlinale.
MY BAREFOOT FRIEND D: Seong-Gyou Lee | South Korea | 90 min | North American Premiere Ten thousand rickshaws are still pulled by hand in Calcutta. Running barefoot through the chaotic streets, 55-year-old Shallim’s dreams of escaping the desperate cycle of poverty fuel this poignant look at the pothole-filled ride of life.
MY REINCARNATION D: Jennifer Fox | USA, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland | 100 min | Canadian Premiere When your father is a high Tibetan master and you’re the reincarnation of a famous spiritual teacher, it’s hard to escape the family business. Italian-born Yeshi struggles against Dad, destiny and the divine in this epic drama.
THE NATIONAL PARKS PROJECT D: Louise Archambault, Keith Behrman, Daniel Cockburn, Hubert Davis, Sturla Gunnarsson, Zacharias Kunuk, Stéphane Lafleur, Peter Lynch, Catherine Martin, Kevin McMahon, Scott Smith, Jamie Travis, John Walker | Canada | 127 min | Canadian Premiere Stunning and inspired, this ambitious, omnibus film barely fits the big screen. Fifty-two filmmakers and musicians explored our country’s rugged wilderness, translating the landscape into cinematic form to mark Parks Canada’s centennial.
POSITION AMONG THE STARS D: Leonard Retel Helmrich | The Netherlands | 111 min | Canadian Premiere Masterful camerawork and incredible access elevate the daily struggles of a traditional grandmother and her urbanized family in Jakarta’s slums to a deeply humanist portrait of contemporary Indonesia. The stunning finale to a trilogy twelve years in the making.
PROJECT NIM D: James Marsh | USA, UK | 93 min | Canadian Premiere James Marsh follows his hit doc MAN ON WIRE with the year’s most engrossing and heartbreaking biography, that of “Nim Chimpsky,” a chimpanzee whose epic life story unfolds against startling human error, eccentricity and hubris.
SENNA D: Asif Kapadia | UK | 104 min Brazilian racing superstar Ayrton Senna’s dramatic Formula One career, from his fierce rivalry with nemesis Alain Prost to his eventual death behind the wheel, is the subject of this sublime nail-biter of a biography.
VODKA FACTORY D: Jerzy Sladkowski | Russia | 90 min | North American Premiere Dreams of big-city stardom cushion a single mother labouring on an assembly line from the brutal banalities of life in Russia’s backwoods in this award-winning, intimately filmed story of the high price of dreams.