Skip to content

Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Hot Docs 2012: What to See

Read more articles by

It’s almost Hot Docs season again, and there’s a whole fleet of films we’re looking forward to. This year’s Hot Docs festival runs from April 26-May 6, and will feature hundreds of full-length and short documentaries from around the world. In the coming weeks, we’ll be reviewing a number of films that we think might be of interest to Spacing readers. In the meantime, the box office is open! Here are some suggested picks:

Black Block “They went to Genoa for the 2001 G8 Summit to be heard, to complain, to disrupt, to demonstrate. But they got too close, bothering those in power to the point of violent confrontation. A group of protesters relive their painful experiences at the Diaz School, a crash pad used during the Summit that became the scene of a savage raid by local police.”

Detropia “Once a place symbolic of the American Dream, Detroit has been hard hit by the economic downturn. Detroit natives would say “downturn” is an understatement; they’re facing all-out depression. The Academy Award-nominated duo Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady create an indelible postmodern portrait of a city disappearing. Focusing not on the past, but illustrating the current reality, Detropia is a symphony for a city in a precarious state of transition.” (Spacing will be co-presenting this screening.)

Dylan “Fourteen-year-old Dylan trolls the streets of Belfast in an oversized army jacket, smoking cigarettes, looking for something to do, ready to change his religion to heavy metal. He’s a one-man army, prepared for a battle that may already be lost. Here’s a portrait of a boy on the cusp of adolescence against the backdrop of a desolate city that has little to offer for a bright future.”

Espoir Voyage “Like many young men of his country, Joanny travelled from Burkina Faso to the more affluent Ivory Coast in search of work and a better life. For young Burkinabe men this emigration is a ritual and rite of passage—but Joanny never returned. Years later his brother, Burkinabe filmmaker Michel K. Zongo, decides to retrace his steps.”

The Field of Magic “For more than two decades a group of people has been living in the Buda Forest in Lithuania. Surviving off the refuse of a nearby landfill, they are a population living on the margins. Despite the negative image the media has given them, young filmmaker Mindaugas Survila discovers quite a different story.”

Herman’s House “Once a slave-breeding estate and now known as the Alcatraz of the South, Angola prison sprawls over 18,000 Louisiana acres and houses over 5,000 prisoners. For almost 40 years Herman Wallace, a Black Panther member falsely convicted of murdering a prison guard, has been kept in a tiny cell in solitary confinement. In 2001, when young artist and activist Jackie Sumell asked him to collaborate on an art project by imagining his ideal house, it was the beginning of an extraordinary friendship and a journey into the racialized brutality of the American justice system.”

Innocente “From the award-winning directors of War/Dance comes their newest film, Inocente, a deeply moving and inspiring documentary about a 15-year old girl named Inocente who’s growing up homeless, as an undocumented immigrant, on the streets of San Diego.”

Les Ordres “In October 1970, when the Front de liberation du Quebec (FLQ) kidnapped a British diplomat and a Quebec cabinet minister, Prime Minister Trudeau enacted the controversial War Measures Act. Under the authority of martial law, the Canadian army was sent to Montreal and 465 citizens were arrested and held without charge. One of the most celebrated Canadian films of all time, Les Ordres is a visceral and transformative journey into the lives of five people who were imprisoned during the October Crisis.”

Los Angeles Plays Itself “Through clips from well-known classics and little-known gems, Thom Andersen offers an insightful look at how the movies have depicted the City of Angels, focusing on the various roles specific landmarks and districts have played.”

Meanwhile, in Mamelodi “South Africa, 2010. How close can one be to the World Cup soccer celebrations without really being a part of it? In District 11, one of the poorest of Mamelodi—a former Blacks-only township near Pretoria where people still make do without paved roads, electricity or running water—Steven Mtsweni follows the competition on his blurry black-and-white TV as if watching a man land on the moon for the first time.”

She Said Boom ““All Women Are Bitches” was not a chart topper, but it represented a significant thread in Toronto’s musical tapestry thanks to the all-female art punk band Fifth Column. Former band members recall the 1980s queer art punk scene and their progressive efforts to unite music, film and zine culture to challenge conventional art practice, gender roles and femininity”

Tchoupitoulas “Three teenage boys embark upon a clandestine adventure through New Orleans at night, their childlike curiosity luring the viewer on a journey from the heart of the city to all that unfolds in dark alleyways and backstreets.”

!Vivan Las Antipodas! “Award-winning filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky journeys to four antipodal communities—extremely rare instances of populations settled on precisely opposite points of the globe—and launches a dizzying and exuberant travelogue of spaces with uncanny continuities and disturbing disjunctions.”