The 2022 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival runs from Thursday, April 28 to Sunday, May 8 in downtown Toronto. (Though if ya can’t get to Toronto you can as a Canadian stream many of the documentaries: so that’s #CouchWorthy nice!)
Packages, Passes and Tickets details are all HERE. If you can go…go; this is one of my favourite film festivals; not just in Toronto from like all over. (I’m like a doorknob; I get around.)
So with this incredible festival hosting in-cinemas screenings across Toronto let’s take a look at what’s worth pants: #PantsWorthy. Here are 6 #PantsWorthy recommendations and why they’re worth putting on pants for.
Art of Silence
Director: Maurizius Staerkle-Drux
Screenings: Mon May 2 2:45pm & Sun May 8 8:30pm
“The story of legendary mime Marcel Marceau comes to life through reflections from his family and those he inspired, revealing how his childhood trauma during WWII ignited his deep conviction to the art of silence.”
Why Pants? “Never get a mime talking. He won’t stop.” Marcel Marceau gets a Last Dance! From working with the French Resistance during World War II (rescuing thousands of Jewish children) to his friendship with Michael Jackson (that’s who introduced me to Marcel Marceau) his friends and family tussle with his imposing legacy. It’s shocking but for a cultural giant this is his feature length documentary.
The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks
Director: Reginald Harkema
Screenings: Tue May 3 6:30pm & Fri May 6 8:30pm & Sat May 7 10:30am
“Through never-before-seen archival footage and interviews with the “Kids” themselves, delve into the group’s mid-1980s post-punk origins and their 40-year legacy as a renowned, cult comedy troupe in the leadup to their iconic show’s impending reboot for Prime Video.”
Why Pants? Their name came from 1950s TV comedian Sid Caesar, who, if a joke did not go over, or played worse than expected, would attribute it to “the kids in the hall,” referring to a group of young writers hanging around the studio. This is a rare Canadian treat: a funny documentary. You often don’t get many witty documentaries. Think of it as an appetizer (or a 95 minute recap…The Story So far…) for the upcoming Kids In The Hall Revival Season on Prime Video on Friday, May 13.
Director: Patrick Dell
Screenings: Mon May 2 8:15pm & Thu May 5 2:15pm
“Nine internationally renowned conflict photojournalists candidly share the physical, emotional and psychological challenges of the frontlines and their struggles to come to terms with bearing witness to war’s horror and devastation.”
Why Pants? “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” This Globe and Mail documentary explores the emotional and physical cost it takes to share truth during war. We tend to focus on the soldiers and their PTSD but war has many dire tentacles that deviously grip many people. We’re a photography based society now thanks to social media and advanced mobile phones yet often the photographic stories we’re eagerly sharing are self-absorbed; we’re often in a war for new followers. War photography is a reminder that a picture is worth a thousand words; not a thousand likes.
Director: Shalini Katanyya
Screenings: Mon May 2 6:30pm & Thu May 5 11:30am & Sat May 7 8:15pm
“TikTok took the world by storm and boomed during the height of the global lockdowns, but with its questionable terms of service and murky origin can the app really be trusted?”
Why Pants? You may know director Shalini Kantayya from her previous documentary: Coded Bias on Netflix. That one was about A.I. and algorithms. She’s still exploring machine learning via TikTok. Everybody’s had that Netflix moment where you finish watching a horror movie and it instantly recommends five more horror movies to watch. How are you supposed to grow and develop new interests? We used to go on the internet because we were curious about everything. We wanted to learn. We wanted to search. The online goal used to be curiosity and discovery. Now it’s shifted and become about reinforcement. Reinforce my identity; reinforce my interests. Algorithms such as the one TikTok employs can only effectively manufacture cookie cutters humans who neatly slot into clean demographics making it easy for corporations to target and sell crap too. The great spiritual war of Fight Club is now the algorithm.
Director: Kathryn Ferguson
Screenings: Wed May 4 9:30pm & Mon May 7 8:45pm & Sat May 7 1:45pm
“Sinéad O’Connor never wanted to become a pop star, she just wanted to scream! The iconoclastic musician’s phenomenal rise to worldwide fame and her exile from the pop mainstream is presented through a contemporary feminist lens.”
Why Pants? I actually don’t know much Sinéad O’Connor: I know about the SNL Pope photography incident, the bald head and a handful of songs but little else. Which is why it’s so fantastic we have this documentary playing at a documentary film festival: Nothing Compares 2 U having a documentary that’s a clear window into someone’s world.
Still Working 9 to 5
Director: Gary Lane & Camille Hardman
Screenings: Fri April 29 8:30pm & Mon May 2 10:00am & Sat May 7 8:30pm
“The highest grossing comedy of 1980, 9 to 5 delivered a serious message about American working women. Forty years later, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton discuss why workplace inequality is no laughing matter.”
Why Pants? I haven’t watched 9 to 5 in years: when was the last time you saw that movie? In this documentary Jane Fonda shares how she wanted to make a serious film about the serious struggles women have in the serious workplace only nobody would take her seriously. So she resorted to a making a comedy. This documentary balances the making of that classic workplace comedy and confronts how much work we hafta do for women in the workplace. Wonder if this’ll prompt a follow up examination of another workplace comedy: the John Hughes, Michael Keaton classic: Mr. Mom from 1983.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.