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Hot Docs Festival opens with Jennifer Baichwal’s “Into the Weeds”

The 29th Annual Hot Docs Canadian Intl. The documentary festival will kick off with Jennifer Baichwal’s “Into the Weeds,” about a former groundsman who battles an agrochemical giant after being diagnosed with cancer, it was announced this morning at a media conference in Toronto where the full roster was unveiled.

The acclaimed Toronto-based filmmaker is best known for her trio of visually arresting collaborations with Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky exploring human impact on the planet, such as Manufactured Landscapes. She is the first female director in Hot Docs history to open the festival with a second film and is among the 49% female directors in the 2022 Official Selection.

Into the Weeds is one of 63 titles making their world premiere at Hot Docs, which is returning to live screenings for the first time since 2019, showcasing 226 films from 63 countries across 15 programmes. Hot Docs runs from April 28th to May 8th.

“We are thrilled to bring these outstanding, outspoken stories to theaters in Toronto and online across Canada,” said Shane Smith, Director of Programming, Hot Docs. “This year’s program addresses many of today’s most pressing issues head on and will leave audiences energised, inspired and in some cases outraged.”

This year’s competitive International Spectrum program is a hotbed of world premieres, including Chan Tze Woon’s “Blue Island,” a hybrid docu-drama about contemporary Hong Kong’s protest history; Bogna Kowalczyk’s “Boylesque” about an openly gay 82-year-old Pole who loudly lives in his homophobic country; Karl Malakynas’ “Delikado,” about the struggle of three environmentalists to save an island paradise in the Philippines; “The Killing of a Journalist” about the corrupt investigation into the murder of a Slovak journalist; “Petites (Little Girls)”, which revisits the infamous Dutroux affairs; and Reed Harkness’ “Sam Now,” about a son’s 20-year search for the mother who abandoned him.

Hot Docs is adding two world premiere titles to its list of Special Presentations announced last week. Gavin Fitzgerald’s “Million Dollar Pigeons” looks at the breeders and feathers in the lucrative world of international pigeon racing, while Barry Avrich’s “The Talented Mr. Rosenberg” portrays Toronto’s infamous Yorkville swindler.

Filmed prior to the current invasion of eastern Ukraine, Zero Position is among several films receiving their world premieres at the World Showcase. Other titles include Shooting War (photojournalism about conflict), Mom (a mother-son healing process), And Still I Sing (singers in competition on Afghan Star), African Moot (the annual African Human Rights Moot Court Competition) and Queer My Friends (Korean filmmaker documenting her best friend’s coming of age as a gay man).

Canadian Spectrum’s notable world premieres include Don’t Come Searching (a Jamaican migrant worker who returns home from Canada with big news), Okay! (musicians on the autism spectrum prepare for their first show), Bernie Langille Wants to Know What Happened to Bernie Langille (a man investigates the mysterious death of his grandfather), Freedom From Everything (AIDS and the coronavirus), Scrap (the rooms of discarded machines) and Shelter (the Exploring a Filmmaker’s Home).

Films in Hidden Histories, a new thematic strand, shed light on buried stories. The program will feature the world premiere of Unloved: Huronia’s Forgotten Children, which examines the culture of abuse at Ontario’s oldest government-run home for disabled children.

The Changing Face of Europe returns with a series of films examining the magnitude of the transition in the region, with world premiere titles including: Atomic Hope – Inside the Pro-Nuclear Movement, an exploration of the potential of nuclear power to address the climate crisis ; and “Band,” which is about an all-female art rock band dealing with motherhood.

How Saba Kept Singing, in which a 94-year-old man tells his family how he survived Auschwitz, has its world premiere in the Artscapes section, along with Beautiful Scars, a portrait of Canadian singer-songwriter Tom Wilson as him confronted with deep family secrets; “For Real,” the creative renewal of Franco-Cameroonian rapper Ichonl; and The Artist’s Daughter, oil on canvas, in which a woman tries to understand her distant father, a respected painter, through his work.

Nightvision’s offbeat list includes the world premiere of “F**ck It Up!”, which follows punk band Towers of London’s energetic ruin of their multi-million dollar record deal.

Women’s voices are amplified in the Persister program, which features the world premiere of Phyllis Ellis’ latest Category: Woman, about surveillance of the female body in sport, and Deconstructing Karen (white women dine and discuss racism). , “Ernesto, Gracias” (a pregnant filmmaker, her autistic brother and single mother face economic and medical challenges in Costa Rica), “Hunting in Packs” (three politicians fight the establishment) and “Silent Beauty” (a filmmaker, who deals with her grandfather’s sexual violence).

The artistry and impact of Chile’s documentary film industry is showcased in this year’s Made In program, while films that experiment with documentary forms and ideas are showcased in Markers.

Long episodic series bowing in Deep Dive include: Eye of the Storm: The Political Odyssey of Yanis Varoufakis, a six-part series about controversial Greek politician Yanis Varoufakis; The Unsolved Murder of Beverly Lynn Smith, a docuseries set after a controversial secret operation; and We’re All Gonna Die (Even Jay Baruchel), a series about the end of the world, hosted by Canadian actor Jay Baruchel.

The 2022 Focus On program celebrates the work of Canadian filmmaker Raymonde Provencher, while Indian documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan is honored as part of the Outstanding Achievement Award Retrospective programme.

Notable films from Telefilm Canada’s recent digitization project, Canadian Cinema – Reignited, feature in this year’s Redux program, including works by acclaimed filmmaking duo Janis Cole and Holly Dale, and Inuk director Zacharias Kunuk.

https://variety.com/2022/film/global/hot-docs-jennifer-baichwals-into-the-weeds-1235218935/ Hot Docs Festival opens with Jennifer Baichwal’s “Into the Weeds”

Charles Jones

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