Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Hot Docs 2011 Preview: Superheroes, Family Instinct & At Night, They Dance

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Dir: Michael Barnett

Every wonder what it would be like to be real life superhero? I think most of us have had at least one time pondered what it would be like but the focus of this film is people who took that beyond thinking and into action and have become real life superheroes. Patrolling the streets, fighting crime, scaring off baddies and occasionally... stopping for a beer? Superheroes makes it clear that although there may not be tons of real life superheroes out there, and most come from the place of wanting to help the helpless, they have varying ways of doing so and even more so varying levels of competency doing so. Some are high trained in martial arts & parkour, where as others you wonder how their suit is even kept together, but all feel very strongly about stepping up and fighting injustice, and I loved how the film focused on that sensibility when it at times could have easily gone for humour. It's respectful and intelligent, talking to numerous superheroes as well as experts in the field from psychologists to likely the biggest expert in the field: Stan Lee. The superheroes themselves are the real stars of the screen, and they both suprize and inspire the viewer. Well worth checking out.

Superheroes screenings at Hot Docs:
  • Mon, May 2, 2011 at 9pm at the Bloor Cinema
  • Wed, May 4, 2011 at 4pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
  • Sun, May 8, 2011 at 7pm at The Royal Cinema

Zanda, in Family Instinct

Family Instinct
Dir: Andris Gauja

One of the things I always look for at film festivals is to see if there is any Latvian film, as it's a rare to find and being of Latvian heritage myself it's a treat to see. This wasn't quite what I'd imagine to be regular everyday Latvian life, but it's a very intimate look at one particular family. Family Instinct follows a family of quite an unusual make up, we see it centred on Zanda whom we see during a time of absence from Valdis - the father of her children (and also her brother). That's only one of the many strange and almost unbelievable things in the film, which we see from a fly on the wall perspective as the strange, but apparently everyday, life as it rolls out day by day. From crazy binge drinking to uninvited guests, many of which strongly seem to favour Zanda's company while Valdis is away. The film is an eye opener on many levels, and I absolutely couldn't tear myself away from it.

Family Instinct screenings at Hot Docs:
  • Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 9:45pm at Cumberland 3
  • Sat, Apr 30, 2011 at 4:30pm at Cumberland 3
  • Tue, May 3, 2011 at 11am at Isabel Bader Theatre

Hind, dancing against all the odds in At Night, They Dance

At Night, They Dance
Dir: Isabelle Lavigne & Stéphane Thibault

I'm always up for a dance film, but was a little hesitant although still very curious about At Night, They Dance which follows belly dancers in Cairo. I have to say that the dancing elements are low, and even dancing seems to be most of the times a generous way to put is as the young women are mostly on stage with a live band and at times dancing or moving for an all male crowd. The gender dynamics and tension in this film are rough, the male dominated industry is bridged by Reda, who is a former dancer herself and the mother of several daughters who dance are likely more who will dance in the future. It's interesting to see it from the perspective of almost a participant, as we are brought full force into the world without context and live through the lives of the dancers and their handlers through the long nights and various celebrations and events. It wasn't what I expected but it was wild to see this portrait on a lifestyle from such an intimate point of view.

At Night, They Dance screenings at Hot Docs:
  • Tue, May 3, 2011 at 9pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 4
  • Fri, May 6, 2011 at 1:15pm at The ROM Theatre
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival runs from April 28 - May 8, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

1 comment:

Ryan McNeil said...

I *really* want to see SUPERHEROES do well.

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