Hi everyone! Amir here, to bring you exciting festival news at month's end. Nathaniel is heading to the Nashville Film Festival as a jury member and for the first time at The Film Experience, we’re also going to cover the Hot Docs Festival, North America’s largest documentary fest, which is held in Toronto. It’s a record breaking year for their ever-expanding programme: there are 205 documentaries screening, 44 of which are world premieres.
Hot Docs hits two important milestones this year. First, the festival turns 20: “It’s not a teenager anymore” as the director announced at the press conference; it's a major triumph for a niche festival to become a mainstay. Second, Bloor Cinema, the theatre that hosts most of the screenings turns 100! It’s one of Canada’s oldest and most nostalgia inducing cinemas. Had it not been for their incredibly cheap memberships and close proximity to my university, I’d never have seen masterpieces like The 400 Blows, A Space Odyssey, Talk to Her, Rear Window and many, many others on the big screen, so I personally hold it very dear. Hot Docs’ ownership of the theatre, however, means that in recent years the screenings have been mostly limited to documentary films, but I’m certain the festival will acknowledge the theatre’s long history.
For the Oscar-inclined, I should note that Hot Docs' relationship with the awards season isn’t a consistent one, which is understandable given the low exposure many documentaries receive outside the festival circuit. However there are films like The Cove and Hell and Back Again that premiere here and go on to march towards Oscar's red carpet.
The festival runs from April 25th to May 5th and will open with a Canadian film called The Manor, directed by Shawney Cohen, about his personal experience of growing up in a Jewish family that run a famous strip club in Suburban Ontario.