Advertisement

Hot Docs Reveals Special Presentations Lineup

Toronto’s Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, has unveiled the full lineup of films that will screen in its Special Presentations program. The festival runs April 25 to May 5.

World premieres include “Red Fever,” which sees Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond travel to the four corners of Turtle Island and across Europe to explore the world’s fascination with Native Americans; “American Cats: The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly,” in which “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” correspondent Amy Hoggart explores the controversial practice of declawing cats; “The Ride Ahead,” an expansion of co-director Samuel Habib’s short film “My Disability Roadmap” (which got an Honorable Mention in the International Shorts section of Hot Docs in 2022), exploring a typical 21-year-old itching to move out, start a career and find love—all while navigating life with a disability; “Lost in the Shuffle,” which follows world champion magician Shawn Farquhar as he simultaneously devises a new trick and delves into a medieval murder cold case; and “Le Mans 55: The Unauthorized Investigation,” which explores the tragic Le Mans race in 1955 where more than 80 spectators were killed.

Hot Docs will also see the international premiere of the National Geographic doc “Fly,” following three couples whose passion for base jumping means they’ll risk everything for the rush of feeling alive. Other premieres include “Union,” in which a group of Amazon workers on New York City’s Staten Island take on one of the world’s largest and most powerful companies in the fight to unionize, and “Michel Gondry, Do It Yourself,” an intimate look at the music video director and filmmaker’s life, work and creative process.

More from Variety

Special Presentations will also include the Canadian premieres of “Power,” examining the history, scale and social effects policing has had on the U.S. and its culture; “Black Box Diaries,” which sees journalist and filmmaker Shiori Ito take on one of the most powerful institutions in Japan to prosecute her high-profile sexual assailant in a landmark legal case; “Never Look Away,” the directorial debut of Lucy Lawless that follows CNN combat camerawoman Margaret Moth, whose appetite for danger is challenged following a life-changing injury; “Look Into My Eyes,” Lana Wilson’s new film featuring an eclectic group of New York City psychics; “Born Hungry,” the latest from Canadian filmmaker Barry Avrich—chronicles the rags-to-riches tale of Sash Simpson, a runaway child from the streets of India, who was adopted into a Toronto family with 31 siblings before becoming a world-renowned chef; and “Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger,” in which Martin Scorsese shares his lifelong love affair with the “subversive commercial movies” of filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, whose collaboration thrived in the adversity of WWII.

Special Presentations Lineup
“American Cats: The Good, the Bad, and the Cuddly”
Dir: Todd Bieber, Prod: Grace Leeson, U.S., world premiere
Ontario is the only province in Canada without a ban on cat declawing. Amy Hoggart, the correspondent from “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee,” cracks jokes, cuddles kittens and attacks this controversial practice with satire.

“Black Box Diaries”
Dir: Shiori Ito, Prod: Eric Nyari, Hanna Aqvilin, Japan, U.K., U.S., Canadian premiere
Journalist Shiori Ito takes on one of the most powerful institutions in Japan to prosecute her high-profile sexual assailant in a landmark legal case. Using personal footage and hidden cameras, Ito puts it all on the line for justice.

“Born Hungry”
Dir: Barry Avrich, Prod: Jay Hennick, Mark Selby, Barry Avrich, Canada, Canadian premiere
The true rags to riches tale of Sash Simpson, a runaway child from the streets of India, who was adopted into a Toronto family with 31 siblings before becoming a world-renowned chef.

“Fly”
Dir: Shaul Schwarz, Christina Clusiau, Prod: Christina Clusiau, Shaul Schwarz, U.S., international premiere
To stand on the edge and jump into the wind, one must be willing to lose everything. That could mean the love of your life, or the life you love. Three couples in the world of base-jumping risk everything to feel alive.

“Le Mans 55: The Unauthorized Investigation”
Dir: Emmanuel Reyé, Prod: Isabelle Dagnac, France, world premiere
The Le Mans race in 1955 made history through tragedy when more than 80 spectators were killed. The film uncovers the story of the crash that took the lives of so many and looms over the world of motorsports to this day.

“Look Into My Eyes”
Dir: Lana Wilson, Prod: Kyle Martin, Lana Wilson, U.S., Canadian premiere
In this journey into the human desire for connection, acclaimed filmmaker Lana Wilson follows an eclectic group of New York City psychics whose intimate readings reveal a kaleidoscopic view of loneliness, connection and healing with humor and intrigue.

“Lost in the Shuffle”
Dir: Jon Ornoy, Prod: Jon Ornoy, Ana Carrizales, Canada, world premiere
World champion magician Shawn Farquhar delves into a medieval murder cold case among Jacks, Queens and Kings as he devises a new trick inspired by the world’s best sleight-of-hand artists.

“Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger”
Dir: David Hinton, Prod: Matthew Wells, Nick Varley, U.K., Canadian premiere
Martin Scorsese tells of his lifelong love affair with the movies of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and their “subversive commercial movies.” Drawing on a rich array of archival material, Scorsese explores their collaboration that thrived in the adversity of WWII.

“Michel Gondry, Do It Yourself”
Dir: François Nemeta, Prod: Olivier de Bannes, Robin Accard, Philippe Savine, France, North American premiere
French filmmaker Michel Gondry re-invented the music video and challenged Hollywood with his distinctive handmade visual style. Intimately documented, Gondry’s career and playful creative process receive an overdue review, from his earliest music videos to his latest feature film at Cannes.

“Never Look Away”
Dir: Lucy Lawless, New Zealand, Canadian premiere
CNN camerawoman Margaret Moth was facing down war’s inhumanity when one bullet changed everything but her resolve. Debut filmmaker Lucy Lawless turns the camera’s gaze on this groundbreaking woman and her legacy.

“Power”
Dir: Yance Ford, Prod: Sweta Vohra, Jess Devaney, Yance Ford, Netsanet Negussie, U.S., Canadian premiere
Part essay, interview and archival collage, “Power” traces the explosion of police power from the founding of the U.S. to our present. The film makes the historical continuity of unchecked police power legible—examining who’s policed, who’s protected and why.

“Red Fever”
Dir: Neil Diamond, Catherine Bainbridge, Prod: Lisa M. Roth, Rebecca Lessard, Canada, world premiere
Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond travels to the four corners of Turtle Island and across Europe to explore the world’s fascination with Native Americans, recognizing the impact Indigenous people have had in shaping modern Western culture.

“The Ride Ahead”
Dir: Samuel Habib, Dan Habib, Prod: Dan Habib, Erica Lupinacci, U.S., world premiere
An expansion of his short film “My Disability Roadmap,” Samuel Habib is a typical 21-year-old, itching to move out, start a career and find love. But “no one tells you how to be an adult, let alone an adult with a disability.”

“Union”
Dir: Brett Story, Stephen Maing, Prod: Samantha Curley, Mars Verrone, Martin DiCiccio, U.S., Canadian premiere
The Amazon Labor Union—a group of current and former Amazon workers on New York City’s Staten Island—takes on one of the world’s largest and most powerful companies in the fight to unionize.

Best of Variety