Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Few of My Faves and A Hot Docs Talk - Bring it on Hot Docs!

I know there's a lot of great stuff to choose from, but I would be remiss if I didn't draw your attention to some of my faves:

THE MOTHER - cinematic, artful, emotionally engaging, a really incredible piece - co-director Antoine Cattin's production company is called KINICO, named after the organisation created by Russian director Dziga Vertov in the 1920's (keep an eye out for my interview with Antoine in the Hot Docs Daily).

VIRTUAL JFK - not only is the concept of virtual history interesting, but also see this for the riveting footage of JFK masterfully commanding the media at press conferences. Research for the film came out of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University (the same group who researched THE FOG OF WAR). A book co-authored by David Welch from the University of Toronto will also be released.

I am moderating a Hot Docs Talk on Sunday, April 20, 1:00 PM, at Innis Town Hall called "The Long Haul" about docs that follow a story or character over a long period of time. SONG SUNG BLUE director Greg Kohs filmed Thunder and Lightening (the doc's subjects) for 9 years. What made him stick with it? Where did he think the story was going to go? I'll ask him.

More of my festival highlights to come...

See you at the festival!
Shannon Abel
Senior International Programmer

Monday, April 7, 2008


But who needs sleep!

I'm enjoying watching the "buzz" page, and its no surprise that films with provocative titles and/or pictures are garnering alot of interest.

But if you knew what I knew, you'd also take a chance on some titles that are lingering lower on the list, buzz wise.

Here's a few suggestions for today:

WAITING FOR HOCKNEY - from the obsessive artistic pursuit genre, unbelievable story and character.
DEAR ZACHARY - this will be one of the most talked about films at Fest.
CITIZEN HAVEL - a remarkable portrait of an amazing radical leader turned politician.
CLUB NATIVE - one of my fave Canadian docs this year.
FOOTBALL UNDERCOVER - winner of an award at the Berlin Film Festival.

Happy Hot Doccing,

Monday, March 31, 2008

Hello Hot Doccers

First, my fellow programmers and I hope you are finding enough intriguing titles to tempt you to see plenty at the Festival.

We're proud of the diversity of subject matter and film styles in this year's programme, though we know that makes your screening choices a little overwhelming.

As Director of Programming I'm always reluctant to pick favourites, but having just perused the "buzz" section I see a few films here not getting the attention they I'm going to start making daily recommendations to draw your attention to those "hidden gems" which make the Fest experience so rewarding.

Today's pick is SONG SUNG BLUE, which won the Documentary Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival earlier this year. This is one of those films that's a truly surprising experience, both dramatic and emotionally engaging in ways I wasn't expecting. The filmmaker, Greg Kohs, spent 7 years making the film, and its a truly sweeping story.

Check it out, and stay tuned for more picks from myself and fellow programmers.

Happy Festival,
Sean Farnel

Monday, February 18, 2008

Welcome to Hot Docs 2008!

Celebrating its 15th edition in 2008, Hot Docs will present more than 125 from over 25 countries from April 17-27.

All films in official competitions will be receiving their first Toronto showing, with many screenings being world, international, North American or Canadian premieres. For most screenings, directors will be attendance to introduce their films and to participate in post-show Q & A sessions with the audience.

Official selections will be announced on March 18.

In 2008, Hot Docs will present films in the following programmes:

Compelling Canadian stories and perspectives

The finest in contemporary documentary filmmaking

A globe-trotting survey bursting with hidden gems

High-profile screenings and special events

A celebration of master filmmaker Richard Leacock’s influential work

A retrospective of one of Canada’s brightest doc directors

Riveting work from the Middle East

Significant works from the vibrant Mexican documentary movemen

Monday, February 19, 2007


We're glad you're here.