Hot Docs celebrates 30 years of presenting local and international documentaries- April 27 to May 7, 2023
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, taking place April 27 to May 7,2023 in Toronto.
From 2848 film submissions, this year’s slate presents 214 films from 72 countries in 13 programs, and features 70 world and 33 international premieres. Over 100 official selections will also stream nationwide on Hot Docs at Home starting the final weekend of the Festival, May 5-9. Hot Docs continues its commitment to gender parity with 53% female directors represented in the official selection.
Hot Docs 2023 opens its 30th-anniversary Festival with Twice Colonized, directed by Danish director Lin Alluna, which captures renowned Greenlandic Inuit lawyer, activist, and fierce protector of her ancestral lands, Aaju Peter, as she fights for the human rights of Indigenous people of the Arctic, working to bring her colonizers in Canada and Denmark to justice.
Canadian Spectrum, a competitive program showcasing bold new works by Canadian directors, includes the world premieres of Cynara, the gripping story of Canada’s justice system on trial; I’m Just Here for The Riot, a look into the world’s “first smartphone riot” after the Vancouver Canucks lost the 2011 Stanley Cup final; July Talk: Love Lives Here, in which the hard-touring band books a drive-in theatre in hopes of bouncing back from the pandemic’s live music shut-downs; Silvicola, exploring the human impact on forests through breathtaking vistas and poignant vignettes set in Canada’s Pacific Northwest; Someone Lives Here, the story of a young Toronto carpenter building life-saving shelters for unhoused people while also facing staunch opposition from the city government; Subterranean, in which two gritty teams of hobbyist cavers are poised to discover the longest and deepest caves in Canada; and Upstream, in which the filmmaker revisits childhood friends in Northern China’s rustbelt. The Canadian Spectrum program is sponsored by TVO.
The popular Nightvision program features future cult classics, including the world premiere of It’s Coming, a found footage horror in which supernatural encounters escalate after a mother returns to her family’s ancestral apartment; and the international premiere of Another Body, in which a student investigates deepfake technology after pornographic video surfaces showing her face on another body; Canadian documentary Satan Wants You, which looks into how a young woman and her Catholic psychiatrist ignited the global Satanic Panic in the 1980s with their bestselling memoir Michelle Remembers; and Anhell69, in which a young director explores the dreams and fears of an annihilated generation while cruising the streets of Medellín in a hearse.
Hot Docs will again partner with European Film Promotion (EFP) for the sixth year of The Changing Face of Europe, a pan-European showcase of documentaries that explore the cultural, economic and political conditions affecting Europe today. World premieres in this program include A Happy Man, in which the move of a young family from the Czech Republic to Sweden is made more complex as one member begins the process of transitioning to affirm their gender identity; and Roberta, an intimate portrait of a young Lithuanian woman grappling with flux while fumbling for purpose in these times of uncertainty.
Hamburg-based collective A Wall is a Screen will take Hot Docs Festival out of the cinema and onto the streets for A Wall is a Screen: Toronto, a free outdoor film event taking place on-site at Toronto’s historic Ontario Place (955 Lake Shore Blvd. West), where audiences will follow the projection team from wall to wall and thus from film to film. Only the starting point (West Commons at Ontario Place) is known in advance, the films and other locations are a surprise. All films screened are family-friendly.
A HAPPY MAN
Marvin, a creative writer, and Ivan, a psychiatrist, relocated to Sweden from the Czech Republic, where they settled and began raising their family. In 2018, Marvin came out as a transgender man, and officially applied for a gender change the following year. Alongside their routine of daily life—household chores, office work and playing video games with their kids—we witness intimate conversations between the couple, who have been together for over 15 years. As Marvin becomes more confident and comfortable with himself, Ivan is supportive yet unsure how to navigate the changes in his partner: “I don’t know what is expected of me. How should I feel?” Turning an empathic lens on the physical and emotional changes Marvin is going through, candid video diaries document his transition surgery and the process of taking testosterone shots. Via Marvin’s nom de plume, Roe Horvat, we hear snippets of writing, gaining an intimate insight into his deepening masculinity. A Happy Man is a moving study in the vital importance of authentic gender expression.
LOVE TO LOVE YOU, DONNA SUMMER
D: Roger Ross Williams, Brooklyn Sudano | P: Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn, Roger Ross Williams, David Blackman, J. Daniel Torres | USA | 2023 | 107 min | Canadian Premiere
Featuring a trove of exclusive, previously unseen footage, the life and times of the one and only Donna Summer are richly detailed in this vibrant exploration of the singer whose iconic voice changed music forever.
D: Lina Lyte Plioplyte | P: Pegah Farahmand | USA | 2022 | 95 min | International Premiere
Enough with “being on the rag” and ditch “Aunt Flo,” it’s time to start treating menstruation with some respect. Activists, doctors and celebrities deconstruct sexist junk science and share the truth: your period is an asset and not “the curse.”
STILL: A MICHAEL J. FOX MOVIE
D: Davis Guggenheim | P: Davis Guggenheim, Annetta Marion, Jonathan King, Will Cohen | USA | 2022 | 95 min | Canadian Premiere
With trademark wit, honesty and insight, Canadian icon Michael J. Fox recounts his improbable rise to the heights of Hollywood stardom alongside his private journey following his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease at 29.
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
Apr 27 to May 7, 2022 – Hot Docs Cinema – 506 Bloor St W, Toronto
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.