Hot Docs has just announced the 14 documentary features that will make up part of this year’s Special Presentations program. The selected films are a combination of international and world premieres, recent festival award winners, and works by “master filmmakers or featuring some star subjects.”
As part of the 2014 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the films will screen from April 24th to May 4th. The remaining festival lineup will be announced on March 18th.
For those who missed them on the film circuit, Sundance winners “Return to Homs” (World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize) and “Rich Hill” (Documentary Grand Jury Prize) as well as Venice Golden Lion winner “Sacro Gra” are taking part in the program.
Oscar-nominated director Marshall Curry’s “Point and Shoot” will have its international premiere, and world premieres include “Children 404” (Askold Kurov), “I am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story,” and “A Dangerous Game” (Anthony Baxter).
“We are thrilled to be announcing some of this year’s Special Presentation films,” said Charlotte Cook, Hot Docs’ Director of Programming. “We are especially proud to be announcing four fantastic world premieres: ‘The Dangerous Game’ is Anthony Baxter’s follow up to the acclaimed ‘You’ve Been Trumped,’ which sees him again as one man against the might of the Trump empire; ‘Children 404’ is an incredibly intimate and insightful look into what it means to be an LGBT youth in Russia; ‘I am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story’ is a beautiful portrait of the man who has given life to Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since their beginnings; and ‘The Shiek’ shows what it’s like to be an Olympic wrestler and pop culture icon.”
Here is the full list of the selected films, in alphabetical order (synopses courtesy of Hot Docs):
D: Askold Kurov, Pavel Loparev | Russia | 2014 | 70 min | World Premiere
An intimate firsthand account of how Russian’s LGBT youth have become defenseless after President Vladimir Putin passed a law forbidding “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”
A DANGEROUS GAME
D: Anthony Baxter | UK | 2014 | 90 min | World Premiere
In this explosive tale, everyday heroes battle against Donald Trump and a cast of greedy Goliaths who want to turn some of the earth’s most precious places into golf courses for the super-rich.
D: Victor Kossakovsky, 32 film students VVAA | Russia, Spain | 2013 | 70 min | Canadian Premiere
Legendary director Victor Kossakovsky sends 32 film students to document Barcelona’s massive and violent anti-austerity street protest in 2012. Set to an operatic score, his stunning collage transforms into a brilliant crowd-sourced street ballet.
D: Arash T. Riahi, Arman T. Riahi | Austria, Switzerland, Germany | 2013 | 118 min | Canadian Premiere
What do topless Ukrainian women, Syrian dissidents and Wall Street Occupiers have in common? A colourful new tactic—creative non-violent protest. See why and how modern pacifism is winning in this slick tribute to disobedience.
THE GREAT INVISIBLE
D: Margaret Brown | USA | 2014 | 92 min | Canadian Premiere
With unprecedented access, this comprehensive documentary utilizes an investigative eye and a humanizing touch to examine the causes and impacts of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY
D: Chad Walker, Dave LaMattina | USA | 2014 | 85 min | World Premiere
With an incredible archive of home videos, the story of Caroll Spinney reveals how a big heart and unstoppable talent created two of the world’s most beloved Muppets, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.
D: Robert Nixon, Fisher Stevens | USA | 2013 | 95 min | Canadian Premiere
The trailblazing career of internationally renowned oceanographer and eco-activist Sylvia Earle is celebrated in this beautifully shot testament to her passionate commitment to saving the world’s oceans and its imperiled inhabitants.
POINT AND SHOOT
D: Marshall Curry | USA | 2014 | 82 min | International Premiere
Baltimore native Matthew VanDyke shares extraordinary visual tales of his adventures motorcycling across the Middle East—including when he joins forces with Libyan rebels to oust Muammar Gaddafi, is captured and held in solitary confinement for six months.
RETURN TO HOMS
D: Talal Derki | Syria, Germany | 2013 | 87 min | Canadian Premiere
Filmed over the course of two years, Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize-winner Return to Homs takes us into the lives of two friends caught in the middle of the raging civil war in Syria.
D: Andrew Droz Palermo, Tracy Droz Tragos | USA | 2014 | 92 min | International Premiere
In a small rural town, three young residents find themselves dreaming big but living small in this achingly beautiful, Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning depiction of adolescence.
D: Gianfranco Rosi | Italy, France | 2013 | 93 min | Canadian Premiere
Following the stories and endeavours of citizens living and working along the giant ring road that encircles Rome, this Venice Golden Lion winner paints an enchanting portrait of everyday moments in The Eternal City.
D: Igal Hecht | Canada | 2014 | 95 min | World Premiere
Every hero needs a villain. Without the Iron Sheik there could be no Hulkamania. Khosrow Vaziri’s transformation from Olympic wrestler to American pop culture icon is a personal and emotional tale that will “make you humble.”
UKRAINE IS NOT A BROTHEL
D: Kitty Green | Australia, Ukraine | 2013 | 80 min | Canadian Premiere
Ukraine’s gorgeous group of topless feminist activists, FEMEN, take off their shirts to take on their government, exposing gender inequality and government corruption through their provocative public protests.
WHITEY: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. JAMES J. BULGER
D: Joe Berlinger | USA | 2014 | 90 min | Canadian Premiere
Oscar-nominated director Joe Berlinger strips away the myths surrounding infamous Boston gangster and FBI informant James “Whitey” Bulger, exposing the truth behind his criminal empire and revealing shocking new allegations of government corruption and complicity.