Happy Hot Docs!


Oh joy and bliss! Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary film festival is here! Spring has finally arrived, the trees are budding, Torontonians are gradually emerging from their winter cocoons blinking their eyes in the sun and it is documentary season again!

Documentaries are always capable of provoking strong emotions. Often the films I expect to love infuriate me and those I had originally dismissed move me the most.

A couple of years ago there was a Hot Docs spotlight on Eastern Europe and I was excited to take my mom and her best friend to see a Latvian documentary. Unfortunately it was the worst documentary I have ever seen, featuring endless scenes of potato peeling and squalor. Horrible. I began to hear deep and progressively more aggravated sighs from my mom and her friend. Suddenly in a wild clatter of canes, my mom and her friend stomped out of the theatre. Climbing over tsking patrons, I followed sheepishly to hear my mom’s friend yelling at the poor Hot Docs volunteers, “I’m Latvian and I have never been so insulted in my life! This is not how Latvians live. They dropped a potato on the floor and didn’t clean it. We are a clean people! We would never do that!” My poor mom and her friend were upset for weeks, convinced that the film was a Communist plot to show Latvia suffering since gaining freedom from Soviet occupation.

On the other hand, Anvil was one of my favourite documentaries last year and I had almost overlooked it. A film about a washed up Canadian heavy metal band did not sound particularly intriguing. By the end of the movie, however, I was humbled and in tears, cheering with the rest of the audience, giddy like a teenage groupie.

At this year’s festival I have fifteen movies lined up over eleven glorious days. I will be sustaining myself on popcorn, hot tamales and inspiration and expect to be delightfully exhausted by the end.

2 Responses to “Happy Hot Docs!”

  1. aig63 Says:

    I overlooked a documentary on Latvia? How’d that happen?! Not even a good piragi fight? It would appear, however, that the critics have spoken…
    Am anxious to hear of your favourites as I have been hearing some docs reviewed on CBC while in the mommy mobile. Enjoy.

  2. cheap girl Says:

    You didn’t miss a thing, just endless shots of a broken down hut and a hairy guy cleaning his ears. I’ll keep you posted about my faves!