Hot Docs Unveils 30th-Anniversary Festival Program-APRIL 27- MAY 7, 2023&CELEBRATING A 30-YEAR DEDICATION TO EXCELLENCE INNON-FICTION STORYTELLING
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market, will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year, with the 2023 Festival taking place April 27 to May 7 in Toronto. From 2848 film submissions, this year’s slate will present 214 films from 72 countries in 13 programs and will feature 70 world and 33 international premieres. Over 100 official selections will also stream nationwide on Hot Docs at Home starting the final weekend of the Festival, May 5-9.Hot Docs continues its commitment to gender parity with 53% female directors represented in the official selection. In addition to showcasing the best in Canadian and international documentary, this year’s Festival will present the Hot Docs Podcast Festival Showcase, featuring five of today’s hottest podcasts live, as well as several 30th-anniversary special events and industry programs, bringing non-fiction lovers and makers together in celebration of 30 years of advancing and celebrating the art of documentary here at home and around the world.
“2023 marks 30 years of Hot Docs in Toronto, and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate this milestone with our audiences, supporters, and talented filmmakers,” shared Shane Smith, Hot Docs’ artistic director. “As Hot Docs has grown and evolved over the last 30 years, so too has the inventiveness, impact and craft of documentary filmmaking. Filmmakers continue to thrill us with unexpected approaches, unforgettable subjects and exceptional storytelling, and their outspoken, outstanding films continue to inspire and inform Hot Docs’ passionate audiences. We’re truly honoured to present a showcase of the finest documentary films from Canada and over 70 countries around the world at this year’s Festival.”
Hot Docs 2023 will open its 30th-anniversary Festival with Twice Colonized, directed by Danish director Lin Alluna, which captures renowned Greenlandic Inuit lawyer, activist, and fierce protector of her ancestral lands, Aaju Peter, as she fights for the human rights of Indigenous people of the Arctic, working to bring her colonizers in Canada and Denmark to justice.
The Big Ideas Series, presented by Scotia Wealth Management, will celebrate its 10th year of sparking engaging conversations with notable guests, including influential American chef and food writer Ruth Reichl and director Laura Gabbert (Food and Country); director and film subject Ella Glendining(Is There Anybody Out There?); Indigo Girls musician Emily Saliers and director Alexandria Bombach (It’s Only Life After All); Rosalie Abella—Canada’s first female Jewish Supreme Court Judge, and director Barry Avrich (Without Precedent: The Supreme Life of Rosalie Abella); and fashion revolutionary Bethann Hardison with director Frédéric Tcheng (Invisible Beauty).
The Special Presentations program, showcasing high-profile films, festival circuit heavy hitters, and renowned subjects, includes world premieres of celebrated Canadian journalist Michelle Shephard’s The Man Who Stole Einstein’s Brain, the uncovering of the explosive story behind the pathologist who stole the genius’ brain in 1955; The Rise of Wagner, a chilling exposé on the collusion between Wagner Group mercenaries and the Kremlin, which has resulted in secret killings and countless human rights violations; We Are Guardians, the story of the Indigenous guardians of the Brazilian Amazon, struggling to protect their territories from the ravages of extractive industries, deforestation, corrupt politicians and profit hungry global corporations; Who’s Afraid of Nathan Law?, a chronicle of dissident Hong Kong politician and activist Nathan Law’s fight for democracy; and Director Barry Avrich’s Without Precedent: The Supreme Life of Rosalie Abella, a portrait of Canada’s first female Jewish Supreme Court Judge, a passionate advocate for the disabled community and visible minorities. The Special Presentations program is sponsored by CRAVE.
Canadian Spectrum, a competitive program showcasing bold new works by Canadian directors, includes the world premieres of Cynara, the gripping story of Canada’s justice system on trial; I’m Just Here for The Riot, a look into the world’s “first smartphone riot” after the Vancouver Canucks lost the 2011 Stanley Cup final; July Talk: Love Lives Here, in which the hard-touring band books a drive-in theatre in hopes of bouncing back from the pandemic’s live music shut-downs; Silvicola, exploring the human impact on forests through breathtaking vistas and poignant vignettes set in Canada’s Pacific Northwest; Someone Lives Here, the story of a young Toronto carpenter building life-saving shelters for unhoused people while also facing staunch opposition from the city government;Subterranean, in which two gritty teams of hobbyist cavers are poised to discover the longest and deepest caves in Canada; and Upstream, in which the filmmaker revisits childhood friends in Northern China’s rustbelt. The Canadian Spectrum program is sponsored by TVO.
International Spectrum, a competitive program offering engaging stories from around the globe, includes the world premieres of The Last Relic, an encompassing portrait of Putin’s “modern” Russia shot over the course of four years, and Everardo González’s A Wolfpack Called Ernesto, a look inside the chilling world of teenage boys who have chosen a life of organized crime. International premieres include Angel Applicant, an exploration of Swiss-German artist Paul Klee, who died from a rare autoimmune disease; Hong Kong Mixtape, in which the filmmaker joins a movement of underground artists following the government’s imposition of laws silencing freedom of expression; The Mountains, which uses 75,000 photos and 30 years of home videos to weave a tender and humorous story of men in a Scandinavian family struck by devastating tragedy; Name Me Lawand, in which a young deaf Kurdish boy hones his communication skills at a UK school after a treacherous journey from Iraq, only to later face deportation from his new home; Pure Unknown, the story of a doctor who makes it her life’s work to identify and reunite deceased refugees with their families; Revir – Everything You Hold Dear, a portrait of taxidermist siblings Susie and Sune who live together in a tense still life of co-dependency following a neglectful upbringing; and You Were My First Boyfriend, a hybrid doc in which the director re-stages her most traumatic high school memories using actors and elaborate sets. The International Spectrum program is supported by the Donner Canadian Foundation.
A showcase of recent works from Ukraine will make up the dynamic Made In program, highlighting stories being captured on the ground by filmmakers since the war began. Made In Ukraine will introduce audiences to five Ukrainian teenagers escaping the reality at home and embarking on an adventure to the Himalayas in We Will Not Fade Away; expose them to the horrors of the invasion in 20 Days in Mariupol; confront preconceived notions and oppressive Russian ideology that often fuels the narrative of the invasion in Eurodonbas; revisit the investigation of the deadly Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, shot down by Russian forces over Eastern Ukraine, in Iron Butterflies, and find signs of new life and regeneration in war-torn Bucha in When Spring Came to Bucha. Docudays UA, Ukraine’s most venerable documentary film festival and the co-presenter of Made In Ukraine, defied the air raids and rocket fire and valiantly presented its 2022 Festival. In it, they launched Civil Pitch 2.0, a competition to sponsor the production of brand new docs. More than 150 projects competed, and Hot Docs proudly presents the world premiere of all four winners in the shorts program Films That Bring The Victory Closer: Civil Pitch 2.0 Winning Films presented by Docudays UA. Made In Ukraine is presented in collaboration with Docudays UA and supported by the Temerty Foundation, Telefilm Canada, and the Shevchenko Foundation.
The World Showcase program features revelatory stories that span the globe, including the world premieres of After the Bridge, a nuanced and humanizing portrait of a shocked mother finding peace with her son, a jihadist killed in the 2017 London Bridge attack; Allihopa: The Dalkurd Story, in which Kurdish refugees come together to form a professional soccer team in Sweden in a shared fight for both independence and victory on the pitch; Jackie the Wolf, an unconventional conversation between the filmmaker and his mother who, as part of a refusal to live beyond a certain age, has announced her death date despite not being terminally ill; The Lebanese Burger Mafia, in which the filmmaker–heir to a Burger Baron franchise–chases clues through rural Alberta to uncover the saga of a rogue fast-food chain with mysterious origins; Razing Liberty Square, a look at the oldest segregated public housing project in the Southern USA as it faces climate change gentrification; Rowdy Girl, the story of a former Texas cattle rancher turned animal sanctuary operator as she encourages a move to plant-based food production; and Sleepless Birds, a look at how the rise of industrial greenhouses in the French region of Bretagne are bringing dire consequences for the region’s biodiversity.
The Artscapes program showcases creative minds, artistic pursuits and inventive filmmaking, and will present the world premieres of Echo of Everything, featuring leading thinkers in music, philosophy, astronomy and physics exploring music’s universal yet mysterious power to elicit ecstasy; Nathan-ism, in which a young Jewish recruit is posted to guard top Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials, inspiring 70 years of obsessive sketching and storytelling; and Soviet Barbara, The Story of Ragnar Kjartansson in Moscow, in which an Icelandic art star opens a Russian oligarch’s museum by re-staging the American soap Santa Barbara live. The Artscapes program is presented in partnership with MUBI.
The popular Nightvision program features future cult classics, including the world premiere of It’s Coming, a found footage horror in which supernatural encounters escalate after a mother returns to her family’s ancestral apartment; and the international premiere of Another Body, in which a student investigates deepfake technology after pornographic video surfaces showing her face on another body; Canadian documentary Satan Wants You, which looks into how a young woman and her Catholic psychiatrist ignited the global Satanic Panic in the 1980s with their bestselling memoir Michelle Remembers; and Anhell69, in which a young director explores the dreams and fears of an annihilated generation while cruising the streets of Medellín in a hearse.
The Persister program will feature films that shine a light on the voices of strong, inspirational women who are speaking up and being heard, including the world premieres of Coven, a Canadian documentary in which three millennial women explore their identities as witches in today’s world, and We, The Women, in which three generations of women reflect on the joys of women’s bonds and resilience as well as the devastating impact of traditional gender roles and gender-based violence. The program will feature the international premiere of My Place Ozerna, in which a Polish woman in London connects through shared feelings of melancholy and alienation with a distant aunt in Ukraine.
Markers features a global, genre-defying collection of films that push the boundaries of the documentary form, including the world premiere of We No Longer Prefer Mountains, which uses Japanese “landscape theory” to structure an examination of the Druze religious minority in Palestine. Canadian premieres include Being in a Place – A Portrait of Margaret Tait, an experimental tribute to Scottish filmmaker Margaret Tait; Calls from Moscow, shot almost entirely in an austere flat occupied by queer Cuban exiles on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; A Common Sequence, a collaboration between two experimental luminaries that expands their immersive work to explore humanity’s relationship with nature; Feet in Water, Head on Fire, a Canadian experimental portrait of the carers of Indigenous palm trees and imported date palms that grow along the San Andreas Fault; and Forms of Forgetting, which explores the nature of remembering through the eyes of a couple who can’t recall how they broke up.
The Deep Dive program will present long-form episodic series featuring complex and layered storytelling, with world premieres of The American Gladiators Documentary, a two-part ESPN behind-the-scenes look at the iconic 90s show; and Poison(s), a stunning investigative series exposing Vladimir Putin’s lethal criminality, from Litvinenko through to Navalny. The program will also include the North American premiere of Lac-Mégantic, a captivating four-part series from Oscar-nominated director Philippe Falardeau that exposes the scandalous causes of one of Canada’s worst rail disasters and the urgent changes needed to prevent the next one.
Hot Docs will again partner with European Film Promotion (EFP) for the sixth year of The Changing Face of Europe, a pan-European showcase of documentaries that explore the cultural, economic and political conditions affecting Europe today. World premieres in this program include A Happy Man, in which the move of a young family from the Czech Republic to Sweden is made more complex as one member begins the process of transitioning to affirm their gender identity; and Roberta, an intimate portrait of a young Lithuanian woman grappling with flux while fumbling for purpose in these times of uncertainty.
Human Kind, a new theme program highlighting stories of kindness, connection, and collaboration, will feature the world premieres of The Only Doctor, the uplifting story of the only doctor in Georgia’s poorest county for 15 years; unseen, a portrait of a blind, undocumented Mexican immigrant who aspires to become a social worker to help support his family and underserved communities; and Unsyncable, a deep dive into the lives of a group of seniors who won’t let their age get in the way of their passion for synchronized swimming.
Hot Docs and SAP are proud to present the shorts series Roads to Regeneration, a curated collection of eight inspirational, short documentaries, executive produced by Hot Docs and presented by SAP. Working closely with filmmakers, SAP and Hot Docs partnered in producing this collection of docs, showcasing innovative ideas from everyday people around the world who seek to make life more sustainable, equitable and hopeful for everyone—one change or idea at a time.
Hot Docs will premiere seven original short documentaries commissioned for Series 2 of Citizen Minutes, an initiative that seeks to inspire viewers to become change agents in their own communities. These remarkable short docs come from Canadian filmmakers looking to highlight bold and unlikely changemakers, ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things in their communities. Citizen Minutes will also feature an educational component to promote youth-led civic engagement, with Hot Docs organizing community screenings to engage young adults, and developing complementary resources linked to curricula to enable educators to use the films as teaching tools. The Citizen Minutesproject is made possible through support from The Rossy Foundation.
Hot Docs 2023 will feature a slate of today’s hottest podcasts live on stage in the documentary festival’s first-ever non-fiction audio-storytelling program. The Hot Docs Podcast Festival Showcase will offer audiences a taste of the exceptional programming found at the organization’s popular Podcast Festival, an annual celebration of the world’s most talented audio storytellers that is set to return live for its seventh year this fall. Public presentations at the Hot Docs Podcast Festival Showcase will include five live podcast events, including WNYC Studios’ Peabody Award-winning Radiolab, the ground-breaking series on science, philosophy and society; Wondery’s hit series Scamfluencers, in which co-hosts, Canadian culture writers Scaachi Koul and Sarah Hagi, unpack epic stories of deception from the worlds of social media, fashion, finance, health, and wellness; The Story I Never Thought I Would Tell, a night of surprising stories with CBC Podcasts’ hosts Anna Maria Tremonti, Gavin Crawford, Falen Johnston, Matthew Amha and Kaitlin Prest; the wildly popular On With Kara Swisher featuring Canadian YouTube pioneer, comedian and author Lilly Singh, and The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos, featuring bestselling author and podcaster Gretchen Rubin. On May 3 and 4, the Hot Docs Podcast Festival Showcase will also feature a special edition of its renowned industry conference, the Creators Forum, presenting a dynamic line-up of six panels and master classes, plus additional opportunities to network with key decision-makers and industry peers. The Hot Docs Podcast Festival Showcase is made possible with the support of Lead Sponsor CBC Podcasts, Major Partner Acast, Event Partner iHeartRadio, and Media Partner The Big Story.
The 2023 Outstanding Achievement Award will honour trailblazing Chinese American filmmaker, educator, and artist Christine Choy (Chai Ming Huei) with a retrospective program that includes Electric Shadow, a dynamic overview of films directed by Asian filmmakers in the 90s; From Spikes to Spindles, a chronicle of the history of Chinese Americans and their political awakenings in the 1970s; Homes Apart: Korea, a seminal documentary exploring the trauma of families torn apart by the division of Korea in 1953; Long Story Short, the story of Larry and Trudie Long, a pioneering Asian American nightclub act of the 40s and 50s; and Who Killed Vincent Chin?, an investigation into the 1982 killing of Chinese American Vincent Chin by two white men and its ramifications on the greater Asian American community.
Hot Docs’ 30th-anniversary Festival will pay homage to Canadian film producer, visual researcher and clearance specialist Elizabeth Klinck with its annual Focus On tribute, celebrating the work of Canadian filmmakers and craftspeople who have made a significant contribution to the documentary landscape. On Thursday, May 4, at 5:30 pm, Klinck will be joined on stage by award-winning documentary director Jennifer Baichwal for Working Together: The Visual Researcher And The Director: A Conversation between Elizabeth Klinck and Jennifer Baichwal, an illuminating conversation about the integral role of archival research and producing in the documentary filmmaking process. The Focus On Elizabeth Klinck program is supported by K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation.
Hamburg-based collective A Wall is a Screen will take Hot Docs Festival out of the cinema and onto the streets for A Wall is a Screen: Toronto, a free outdoor film event taking place on-site at Toronto’s historic Ontario Place (955 Lake Shore Blvd. West), where audiences will follow the projection team from wall to wall and thus from film to film. Only the starting point (West Commons at Ontario Place) is known in advance, the films and other locations are a surprise. All films screened are family-friendly. A Wall is a Screen: Toronto is made possible by support from the City of Toronto, the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, Telefilm Canada, and Goethe-Institut Toronto.
| Hot Docs (www.hotdocs.ca), North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing and celebrating the art of documentary and to creating production opportunities for documentary filmmakers. Hot Docs will present its 30th annual edition from April 27 to May 7, 2023, in cinemas across Toronto, with a selection of films available online to audiences throughout Canada. Hot Docs will also mount a dynamic series of knowledge sessions, networking opportunities and market programs for documentary practitioners and industry delegates, including the renowned Hot Docs Forum, Hot Docs Deal Maker and The Doc Shop. In celebration of its 30th anniversary and a dedication to excellence in non-fiction storytelling, Hot Docs will present the Podcast Festival Showcase, featuring a slate of today’s hottest podcasts live on stage; along with a dynamic line-up of industry panels and master classes featuring podcast game-changers. Year-round, Hot Docs supports the Canadian and international industry with professional development programs and a multi-million-dollar film fund portfolio, and fosters education through documentaries with its popular free program Docs For Schools. Hot Docs owns and programs the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, a century-old landmark located in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood and the world’s first and largest documentary cinema, and operates Hot Docs at Home streaming platform.
Starting Tuesday, March 28, Festival ticket package holders, including Doc Soup subscribers, can redeem their ticket packages, and Hot Docs Members can purchase single tickets. Starting Tuesday, April 4, single tickets will be available to the public. Tickets and ticket packages can be purchased and/or redeemed online at www.hotdocs.ca or in person at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema Box Office, located at 506 Bloor Street West (hours vary daily in accordance with screenings). Single tickets are $19 to regular Festival screenings and $22 to Special Presentations screenings ($17-19 members). Special events vary in price. A Festival 12-Pack is $199 and a Festival 20-Pack is $279. Hot Docs offers free tickets for all screenings before 5:00 p.m.to those 60+ and students with valid photo I.D., available online the day of the screening, subject to availability. Free screenings for students courtesy of CBC and CBC Gem.
Hot Docs is proud to include Scotia Wealth Management as its Presenting Platinum Partner; Rogers Group of Funds as its Founding Partner; CBC as its Signature Partner; Netflix as its Presenting Partner; and Telefilm Canada, the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario as its Major Supporters.