The 2009 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival has announced that the world premiere of Toronto-based director Jennifer Baichwal's "Act of God" will open the 2009 Festival on Thursday, April 30, at the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto.
"This opening night is particularly exciting for us because it is the first time a Canadian film has ever opened the Festival," says Chris McDonald, Executive Director, Hot Docs, in a statement. "Jennifer's documentary is a wonderful example of the calibre of filmmaking found right here in Canada."
Produced by Nick de Pencier, Daniel Iron, and Jennifer Baichwal, "God" explores the metaphysical effects of being struck by lightning. The event "represents the paradox of being singled out by randomness, and so precipitates questions about chance, fate and meaning in life." The film explores seven stories from around the world that raise and respond to these questions.
"It's an honour and a pleasure to launch Hot Docs with a captivating, intelligent work by one of Canada's most talented nonfiction filmmakers," commented Sean Farnel, Hot Docs' Director of Programming, in a statement. "Having made a succession of films with respected artists as their subjects, with 'Act of God' Jennifer Baichwal's own artistry continues its steady, sure advance."
The film is one of the first projects to receive a completion grant from the recently established Canwest-Hot Docs Funds which, in nurturing Canadian talent and giving voice to a diversity of viewpoints, ultimately aims to help Canadian documentaries reach new audiences.
Hot Docs additionally announced selections from its Special Presentations program, including several high profile, award-winning documentaries from the recent festival circuit. All of the films will all be receiving their Canadian premieres at Hot Docs and, at most screenings, the directors will be in attendance to introduce their films.
The announced films are Havana Marking's "Afghan Star," Heddy Honigmann's "El Olivido" (Oblivion), Ondi Timoner's Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner "We Live In Public," Anders Hogsbro Ostergaard's "Burma VJ," Kim Longinotto's Sundance World Cinema Jury Prize winner "Rough Aunties," Helena Tretikova's "Rene," and Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno and Kurt Engfehr's "The Yes Men Fix The World."
"With these first announcements of some already heavily laurelled titles, we hint at what's to come: a Festival brimming with the year's finest nonfiction films," said Sean Farnel, director of programming, in a statement.
Hot Docs is North America's largest documentary festival, conference and market, and will run April 30-May 10, 2009. The full slate of films for the festival, including additional selections in the Special Presentations program, will be announced at the Hot Docs press conference, March 24, in Toronto, Canada.