The latest edition of Hot Docs, the largest documentary film festival in North America, starts today and runs through May 8 in Toronto. For the latest indieWIRE at Hulu Docs – iW‘s regular curation of Hulu’s Documentaries page – we’re taking a look at a number of films that screened at the event in the past, showcasing the event’s global perspective.

Jenny Abel and Jeff Hockett brought their film, “Abel Raises Cain,” to Hot Docs in 2005. The film, which won the Best Documentary award at Slamdance, lovingly and entertainingly profiles Jenny’s father, Alan Abel, called by some the world’s biggest prankster. Among his most infamous escapades, he fooled over 100 reporters with a Deep Throat impostor after the Watergate scandal and staged a fake wedding for Idi Amin to a Long Island Jewish girl.

Speaking of pranksters and dictators, 2008 Hot Docs title “Belarusian Waltz,” directed by Andrzej Fidyk, looks at Belarus, the former Soviet Socialist Republic known as Europe’s last dictatorship under President Lukashenka. Fidyk’s focus: performance artist Alexander Pushkin, who puts himself at serious risk of imprisonment or worse by openly staging stunts mocking the totalitarian regime.

What happens after a regime is toppled is explored in Nick Broomfield’s 2006 Hot Docs entry, “His Big White Self,” the filmmaker/provocateur’s return to South Africa a dozen years after the fall of apartheid. “Self” serves as a sequel to his previous film, “The Leader, His Driver, and the Driver’s Wife,” about Boer separatist Eugene Terre’Blanche.

2008 Hot Docs title, “FLOW: For Love of Water,” directed by Irena Salina, is a powerful and disturbing exploration of what is arguably the world’s single greatest environmental and political issue — access to clean water. The world water crisis is put in context in the film’s tagline, “How did a handful of corporations steal our water?”

The final film in the curation, “Yoga, Inc,” directed by John Philp, premiered at Hot Docs in 2007, and explores globalization as reflected in yoga. The film considers the impact of the Western popularization of the Eastern discipline, and the attempts to capitalize on it through copyrighting certain styles and franchising cookie-cutter studios for mass audiences.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “indieWIRE @ Hulu Docs” is a regular column spotlighting the iW-curated selections on Hulu’s Documentaries page, a unique collaboration between the two sites. iW selections typically appear in the carousel at the top of the page and under “Featured Content” in the center. Be sure to check out the great non-fiction projects available to watch free of charge.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance, consults with documentary filmmakers and festivals, and co-produced Cameron Yates’ feature documentary “The Canal Street Madam.” Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1 and @CanalStMadamDoc) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).

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