hot docs

Hits and misses at the ul­ti­mate re­al­ity show + Com­plete sched­ule

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Fri­day, April 30 COOKING UP DREAMS (Ernesto Ca­bel­los, Peru/Brazil). 75 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NN This cel­e­bra­tion of Peru­vian food looks ter­rific, but the cin­e­matic recipe is miss­ing some es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ents.

In an ef­fort to trace the grow­ing in­flu­ence of this tasty cui­sine, the film­mak­ers travel from the rivers, jun­gles and streets of Peru to high- end restos all over the world where ex­pert chefs ply their trade.

You’d think that along the way the film would ex­plain the prin­ci­ples be­hind this style of cooking and the ba­sic foods re­quired, but that info never sur­faces. The sig­na­ture recipes aren’t trans­lated into English, so un­less your Span­ish rocks, you won’t even be able to dis­cern what th­ese great cooks are mak­ing.

Looks de­li­cious, though. If you go, don’t go hun­gry.

SU­SAN G. COLE • Fri­day ( April 30), 6: 30 pm, Cum­ber­land 3; Satur­day (May 1), 1: 30 pm, Cum­ber­land 3, May 9, 9: 30 pm, Cum­ber­land

2.

ñTHE OATH (Laura Poitras, U. S./ Ye­men). 97 min­utes. Some sub­ti­tles. Rat­ing:

NNNN The di­verg­ing fates of two al Qaida mem­bers – and broth­ers-in-law – who were close to Osama bin Laden in the late 1990s play out in el­e­gant con­trast in Laura Poi

tras’s grip­ping doc­u­men

tary. Nasser al- Bahri (aka

Abu Jan­dal) and Salim

Ham­dan were bin Laden’s body­guard and driver re­spec­tively, and both men fell into U. S. cus­tody af­ter the 9/11 at­tacks. Ham­dan was sub­jected to “en­hanced in­ter­ro­ga­tion” and dumped into Guan­tá­namo Bay. AlBahri, who seems far more con­nected, was re­leased and now drives a taxi in Ye­men and preaches ji­had to im­pres­sion­able young men.

Their rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent for­tunes mir­ror Amer­ica’s post-9/11 strug­gle to de­fine its na­tional char­ac­ter – and un­der­score The Oath with a pow­er­ful moral an­guish. NOR­MAN WILNER • Fri­day ( April 30), 7 pm, Is­abel Bader; May 7, 4 pm, ROM.

THE STORY OF FU­RI­OUS PETE (Ge­orge Tsiout­sioulas, Canada). 85 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN See in­ter­view and re­view, page 5.

• Fri­day ( April 30), 7: 30 pm, Royal; May 9, 1: 30 pm, Cum­ber­land 3.

THE DEVIL OP­ER­A­TION (Stephanie Boyd, Canada/Peru). 69 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNN Like Un­der Rich Earth, a Hot Docs en­try from 2009, The Devil Op­er­a­tion tracks grass­roots protests against an ag­gres­sive min­ing op­er­a­tion, in this case, the U. S.- owned Yana­cocha mine in Peru.

Cen­tre stage is Fa­ther Marco Arana, who finds a way to ne­go­ti­ate be­tween the ac­tivists and the mega- corp and its very scary se­cu­rity forces.

What dis­tin­guishes The Devil Op­er­a­tion is the way the film­mak­ers have ap­pro­pri­ated pho­tos, videos and re­ports com­piled by those very se­cu­rity forces and wielded them in the pur­suit of jus­tice. SGC

• Fri­day ( April 30), 9 pm, Cum­ber­land 3; Mon­day (May 3), 2 pm, Cum­ber­land 2.

ñDISCO AND ATOMIC

WAR (Jaak Kilmi, Es­to­nia/Fin­land). 78 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing:

NNNN Many of us have fond mem­o­ries of 80s TV, but you might say that for the cit­i­zens of Es­to­nia, watch­ing Knight Rider was life al­ter­ing. Direc­tor Jaak Kilmi re­calls that era in Disco And Atomic War, a witty, in­sight­ful and thor­oughly en­ter­tain­ing po­lit­i­cal thriller about how the Iron Cur­tain did battle with con­tra­band West­ern-tinged air­waves from Fin­land.

Kilmi chron­i­cles how ev­ery Soviet at­tempt to cen­sor pop cul­ture on tele­vi­sion was met with an Es­to­nian in­sur­gency, like lo­cals mak­ing pirate an­ten­nas out of a ther­mome­ter. All the while, the direc­tor draws on his per­sonal child­hood mem­o­ries for some con­text, with hi­lar­i­ous drama­ti­za­tions of how the Cold War played out in Es­to­nia.

RAD­HEYAN SI­MON­PIL­LAI • Fri­day ( April 30), 9:15 pm, ROM; Satur­day (May 1), 2 pm, Cum­ber­land 2. DISH: WOMEN, WAIT­RESS­ING & THE ART OF SER­VICE (Maya Gal­lus, Canada). 70 min­utes. Some sub­ti­tles. Rat­ing: NNN Dish will change how you view your next restau­rant ex­pe­ri­ence. In­ter­view­ing fe­male wait­ers around the world, direc­tor Maya Gal­lus serves up some tasty tidbits: the in­dus­try favours younger women, women of­ten make the worst cus­tomers and, damn, there are a lot of sex-themed restau­rants in Mon­treal (in­clud­ing one where the fe­male servers are naked).

Apart from th­ese things, plus a rare glimpse into the world of Paris’s high­end restau­rants and a bizarre place in Tokyo where “maids” call their male cus­tomers “masters,” there’s not much that’s re­mark­able. The film looks good, but there’s lit­tle ten­sion or mo­men­tum. And while Gal­lus makes fine use of ironic vin­tage ads about the pro­fes­sion, it would have been nice to layer in clas­sic wait­ress scenes from films. (Five Easy Pieces, any­one?) GLENN SUMI • Fri­day ( April 30), 9:15 pm, Bloor; May 8, 1: 30 pm, Royal, May 9, 6: 30 pm, Bloor. Satur­day, May 1

ñSHINJUKU BOYS (Kim Longinotto, Jano Wil­liams, UK/ Ja­pan). 53 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing:

NNNN I can see doc­u­men­tary film­mak­ers lining up out­side the New Mar­i­lyn Club for a chance to get into this sub­cul­ture. It’s the place where women, not nec­es­sar­ily les­bians, come to party with women dressed as men.

Kim Longinotto and Jano Wil­liams suc­ceed be­cause they fo­cus on three very dif­fer­ent “hostesses.”

Trans man Tatsu is on male hor­mones. Kazuki, who binds her breasts, has a trans­sex­ual fe­male part­ner, and Gaish, a lit­tle bit stone butch, seems to dress like a man be­cause it gives her li­cence to be cruel to women.

Sen­sa­tional se­quences in­side the club give a rare glimpse of a fas­ci­nat­ing un­der­world. SGC

• Satur­day (May 1), 11: 30 am, ROM.

ANNE PERRY – IN­TE­RI­ORS (Dana Linkiewicz, Ger­many). 70 min­utes. Rat­ing: NN Anne Perry – In­te­ri­ors is re­spect­ful to a fault.

Perry is the cel­e­brated crime writer – over 50 books – with a dark past. She helped her friend Pauline mur­der Pauline’s mother and was jailed for the crime. She kept it a se­cret un­til 1994, when Peter Jack­son re­leased Heav­enly Crea­tures, a film about the crime star­ring Kate Winslet.

Direc­tor Dana Linkiewicz was in­vited to shoot in Perry’s home in Scot­land, where she writes tire­lessly at­tended to by a sec­re­tary and manager and her fiercely protective best friend.

Perry has said very lit­tle about the crime, so you might ex­pect some re­lated ma­te­rial here. But ex­cept for a sen­tence or two at the end, there is none, only eu­phemisms like “the oc­cur­rence” and, my fave, “the thing that hap­pened.”

But if you’re look­ing for a por­trait of a writer’s life in a gor­geous coun­try house, Anne Perry – In­te­ri­ors is for you. SGC • Satur­day (May 1), 2:15 pm, ROM; May 7, 2 pm, In­nis Town Hall.

TALHOTBLOND (Bar­bara Schroeder, U. S.). 76 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN The al­lure of In­ter­net anonymity is vividly il­lus­trated in this cau­tion­ary doc about an on­line love tri­an­gle that led to a mur­der – and the bizarre twists that came to light in the sub­se­quent po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Direc­tor Bar­bara Schroeder didn’t need to tart up the ac­tion with voice- over nar­ra­tion by an ac­tor im­per­son­at­ing the mur­der vic­tim, though; the truth is com­pelling enough on its own. NW • Satur­day (May 1), 3: 30 pm, Bloor; Sun­day (May 2), 11: 45 pm, Bloor. Over the next 11 days, one of the world’s big­gest doc­u­men­tary fests will rock your world. NOW has screened some of the fest’s best – and the rest. So take notes. Con­sult the com­plete sked (on page 7). And don’t for­get to check out nowtoronto.com/hot­docs for up­dates, re­views and re­ports.

ñBHUTTO Duane Baugh­man, Johnny O’Hara, U. S.). 115 min­utes. Some sub­ti­tles. Rat­ing:

NNNN

Bhutto is an ex­cel­lent primer on Pak­istan’s pol­i­tics – and the fam­ily that dom­i­nated them – over the past 60 years.

The fo­cus is on Be­nazir Bhutto, the first fe­male leader of a Mus­lim state, who was twice elected pres­i­dent and was as­sas­si­nated in 2007.

Us­ing archival footage and ex­clu­sive in­ter­views with friends and fam­ily mem­bers, di­rec­tors Duane Baugh­man and

Johnny O’Hara chart the Bhut­tos’ roller- coaster po­lit­i­cal ca­reers.

Though not all the in­ter­views are with Bhutto sup­port­ers, the film comes across as ha­giog­ra­phy as far as the mar­tyred Be­nazir goes, and no one ever gets to the root of the cor­rup­tion charges tossed at Be­nazir and her hus­band, Asif Ali Zar­dari. SGC • Satur­day (May 1), 6:15 pm, Bloor; Tues­day (May 4), 11 am, Is­abel Bader.

ñTHE PARK­ING LOT MOVIE (Meghan Eck­man, U. S.) 84 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN Once upon a time, a man named Chris Fa­rina opened a park­ing lot in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia – and de­cided to hire only grad­u­ate stu­dents and philoso­phers to work in the booth. The re­sult was a tiny is­land of od­dballs who banded to­gether against an end­less stream of frat boys, soror­ity girls and all- pur­pose jerks.

Mix­ing tes­ti­mony from em­ploy­ees past and present (in­clud­ing Yo La Tengo bassist James McNew), Meghan Eck­man’s charm­ing lit­tle doc­u­men­tary makes an aw­fully con­vinc­ing case for the lot as a key bat­tle­ground in Amer­ica’s on­go­ing cul­ture war, not to men­tion a fun place to hang out on a Satur­day af­ter­noon. NW

• Satur­day (May 1), 6: 30 pm, Cum­ber­land 3; Mon­day (May 3), 11: 45 pm, Bloor.

ñCHEMO (Pawel Lozin­ski, Poland). 58 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNNN An older man tries to dis­tract his wife with a crossword puz­zle; a young woman twists with nau­sea as her part­ner watches in help­less sym­pa­thy; a fa­ther and son talk about gui­tars.

As con­cepts go, Chemo is as sim­ple as they come: it’s just close- ups of chemo­ther­apy pa­tients un­der­go­ing treat­ment on a War­saw on­col­ogy ward, ac­com­pa­nied by fam­ily or friends.

Pawel Lozin­ski lets us ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery mo­ment that passes, whether triv­ial or pro­found. All of it is life. NW

• Satur­day (May 1), 7 pm, Cum­ber­land 2; Mon­day (May 3), 1: 30 pm, Is­abel Bader. IN THE NAME OF THE FAM­ILY (Shel­ley Say­well, Canada). 90 min­utes. Some sub­ti­tles. Rat­ing: NN Us­ing the death of Mississauga teen Aqsa Parvez as a start­ing point, Shel­ley Say­well probes the mur­ders of young girls in Mus­lim fam­i­lies. She in­ter­views Aqsa’s friends and sup­port­ers be­fore trav­el­ling to Dal­las to talk to the mother of two young girls who were mur­dered by their fa­ther, and an­other young girl al­most suf­fo­cated to death by her brother.

Strangely, Say­well wastes the key mo­ment in the film, when teenaged boys and girls at Parvez’s high school com­ment that the killings have noth­ing to do with Is­lam and ev­ery­thing to do with male power.

I un­der­stand Say­well’s pas­sion for giv­ing voice to young women cop­ing with the con­trol­ling men in their Mus­lim fam­i­lies. But the re­sult is a film that dis­turbs as much by its de­mo­niza­tion of Is­lam as by the mur­ders it de­scribes. SGC

• Satur­day (May 1), 7 pm, Royal; May 9, 6: 45 pm, Is­abel Bader.

ñWASTE LAND (Lucy Walker, UK/Brazil). 99 min­utes.

Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNNN Brazil’s prime artis­tic ex­port, Vik Mu­niz, spe­cial­izes in pho­tos tricked out with found ob­jects. He takes his prac­tice to new heights when he goes to the world’s big­gest land­fill to en­gage garbage pick­ers in his process.

By pho­tograph­ing them and invit­ing them to in­cor­po­rate the ma­te­ri­als they gather for re­cy­cling into the work it­self, he cre­ates as­ton­ish­ing pieces and changes his sub­jects’ sense of them­selves.

Ex­cept that they all have to re­turn to work in the land­fill.

Still, a mov­ing tes­ti­mony to the power of art. SGC • Satur­day (May 1), 7 pm, Is­abel Bader; Wed­nes­day (May 5), 9:15 pm, Bloor.

HIS & HERS (Ken Wardrop, Ire­land). 80 min­utes. Rat­ing: NN It must have been a bril­liant pitch – string­ing to­gether in­ter­views with some 80 women in the Ir­ish Mid­lands, from child­hood to dotage, to cre­ate a sin­gle nar­ra­tive of life ex­pe­ri­ence.

But in prac­tice, Ken Wardrop’s His & Hers just blends its sub­jects into the bland­est pos­si­ble com­pos­ite, a pre­de­ter­mined and pre­fab­ri­cated vi­sion of an “or­di­nary” life. Child­hood leads to young love, which leads to mar­riage, which leads to chil­dren, which leads to be­reave­ment. We may in­deed all be the same, but in shap­ing his story to leave out any­thing dark, dif­fer­ent or dra­matic – you know, the stuff of life – Wardrop’s not do­ing his sub­jects, or his movie, any favours. NW • Satur­day (May 1), 7:15 pm, ROM; Mon­day (May 3), 4 pm, Cum­ber­land 3; May 9, 4: 30 pm, Is­abel Bader.

ñDISORDER (Huang Weikai, China). 58 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNNN Huang Weikai’s short but pow­er­ful film es­say looks at a dozen sur­real sit­u­a­tions in an un­named Chi­nese city. Pigs es­cape on a high­way. A driver tries to con­vince a hit-and- run vic­tim that he’s ly­ing. Peo­ple find and then leave an aban­doned baby. Po­lice dis­cover a freezer full of bear claws.

There’s no nar­ra­tor, ti­tles or clear arc to the film, which is cap­tured in vivid black-and-white. But Huang finds a vis­ual and au­ral rhythm, build­ing to an in­evitable, dis­turb­ing cli­max. Sev­eral fea­tures have caught the chaos of rapidly in­dus­tri­al­ized China, but none is as raw or ter­ri­fy­ing as this. GS

• Satur­day (May 1), 9 pm, Cum­ber­land 3; Tues­day (May 4), 9:15 pm, In­nis Town Hall. CANDYMAN: THE DAVID KLEIN STORY (Costa Botes, U. S./New Zealand). 76

min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN Cal­i­for­nia candy en­tre­pre­neur David Klein in­vented the Jelly Belly in the late 1970s and spent the en­su­ing decades sulk­ing over a busi­ness deal that took him out of the cor­po­rate pic­ture. All he wants now is recog­ni­tion, which direc­tor Costa Botes – a friend of Klein’s son Bert – is will­ing to pro­vide by the truck­load.

But as the story un­folds, it be­comes clear that for all the el­der Klein’s bouncy en­thu­si­asm, there’s an un­der­cur­rent of rage that no one (in­clud­ing Botes) is will­ing to con­front. Klein’s life story could make a great movie, but this isn’t

it. NW • Satur­day (May 1), 9: 45 pm, ROM; Tues­day (May 4), 1: 30 pm, Cum­ber­land 3.

ñLIFE WITH MUR

DER (John Kast­ner, Canada). 93 min­utes. Rat­ing:

NNNNN John Kast­ner’s ex­cep­tional film has ev­ery­thing a hot doc needs: an al­most un­be­liev­able sit­u­a­tion, great char­ac­ters and su­perb sto­ry­telling.

When, thanks to clear- cut ev­i­dence, Ma­son Jenk­ins was con­victed of mur­der­ing his sis­ter, he in­sisted he was in­no­cent. His par­ents be­lieved him. De­spite be­ing shunned in their Chatham com­mu­nity and hav­ing lost their daugh­ter, they con­tinue to sup­port their son even to this day.

Po­lice in­ter­views, recorded tele­phone calls and ex­ten­sive in­ter­views with the case’s de­tec­tives con­struct an as­ton­ish­ing pic­ture of un­con­di­tional love. And Kast­ner leaks key in­for­ma­tion at just the right times to keep us riv­eted. SGC • Satur­day (May 1), 9: 45 pm, Is­abel Bader; May 9, 3: 45 pm, Bloor.

MARK (Mike Hoolboom, Canada). 70 min­utes.

Rat­ing: NNN The short life of Mike Hoolboom’s edi­tor, Mark Kar­bu­sicky, who hanged him­self at the age of 35, is cel­e­brated in this fea­ture- length me­mo­rial, which mixes tes­ti­mo­ni­als from his still shaken fam­ily, friends and co-work­ers with footage shot in hap­pier times. The peo­ple Kar­bu­sicky left be­hind clearly miss him ter­ri­bly – it’s heart- rend­ing to watch part­ner Mirha- Soleil Ross speak of find­ing his body – but the pic­ture Hoolboom pro­vides is strangely blurry. It’s as though his sub­ject re­sists be­ing un­der­stood, even now. NW

• Satur­day (May 1), 9: 45 pm, Royal; May 9, 9: 30 pm, Is­abel Bader. Sun­day, May 2 DREAM­LAND (Þorfinnur Guð­na­son, An­dri Snær Mag­na­son, Ice­land). 89 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NN Have you ever wanted to agree with an agit- prop doc­u­men­tary but weren’t sure it mer­ited your sup­port? That’s how I felt about Dream­land. It’s a hec­tor­ing, hand-wring­ing look at Ice­land’s at­tempts to sta­bi­lize its econ­omy over the last decade by jump­ing into bed with multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions, in­clud­ing Amer­i­can alu­minum man­u­fac­turer Al­coa. The doc re­lies on creepy mu­si­cal cues and ques­tion­able talk­ing- head footage to make us mis­trust­ful of the politi­cians and in­dus­tri­al­ists who glide across the screen promis­ing pros­per­ity.

But emo­tional ar­gu­ments are no sub­sti­tute for fac­tual ones. I’m hop­ing there was more sub­stance to co- direc­tor An­dri Snær Mag­na­son’s orig­i­nal book. NW • Sun­day (May 2), 3: 30 pm, Bloor; Tues­day (May 4), 2

pm, Is­abel Bader. LA BELLE VIS­ITE (Jean-François Caissy, Canada). 80 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNN This spare ob­ser­va­tional piece tracks 12 se­niors living in a re­tire­ment home lo­cated in a one-time mo­tel on a large lake some­where in Que­bec. They are mid­dle class and well at­tended to – this is a not an ex­posé of gross con­di­tions – but like all aging peo­ple, their lives are slowly shrink­ing.

Jean- François Caissy may have cho­sen too many sub­jects for us to connect to any of them. And they seem to have made no friend­ships or con­nec­tions at the res­i­dence, which isn’t typ­i­cal of re­tire­ment home ex­is­tence.

But that sense of dis­con­nec­tion may be ex­actly what the direc­tor’s af­ter. SGC • Sun­day (May 2), 3: 45 pm, Cum­ber­land 3; Tues­day (May 4), 7 pm, In­nis Town Hall.

ñBUDRUS (Ju­lia Bacha, U. S./Pales­tine/Is­rael). 82 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNNN Bu­drus demon­strates that non-vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions can still work. Ju­lia Bacha’s film re­counts the re­sis­tance against the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment’s plan to plow through Pales­tinian olive groves and erect an im­pos­ing wall. The irony is that the wall, meant to pro­tect cit­i­zens by sep­a­ra­tion, man­aged to unify Pales­tini­ans and the Is­raelis who ral­lied to their cause.

The film oc­ca­sion­ally suf­fers from se­lec­tive edit­ing and zooms in too close as if to avoid a big­ger pic­ture. How­ever, you can’t help but be moved by in-the­mo­ment ground-zero footage that shows pick­eters squar­ing off against armed sol­diers. RS • Sun­day (May 2), 4 pm, Is­abel Bader; Mon­day (May 3), 7:15 pm, ROM.

ñLISTEN TO THIS (Juan Ba­quero, Canada). 76 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN Lis­ten To This in­tro­duces us to ex­tro­verted singer Whit­ney, shy and gifted writer Jas­mine and fi­nally Donta, a trou­ble­maker with a big tal­ent for rap­ping. All three kids at­tend the Fir­grove School in the Jane- Finch cor­ri­dor and are in­volved in a 16-week af­ter-school pro­gram that gets them com­pos­ing and per­form­ing songs about their lives.

Un­der the guid­ance of sev­eral mu­si­cians, in­clud­ing jazz artist Thomp­son Egbo- Egbo and rap­per/pro­ducer Stokes, the chil­dren grad­u­ally gain con­fi­dence. It’s a les­son for the adults as well, par­tic­u­larly in a scene where the kids re­count the vi­o­lence they live with on a daily ba­sis. I dare you not to cry when Jas­mine, en­cour­aged by Stokes, ad­mits she’s an artist. Sim­ply told but inspiring.

Sun­day (May 2), 7 pm, Royal; May 9, 4: 30 pm, Royal.

Go ahead and take The Oath, about two al Qaeda mem­bers.

Disco And Atomic War drills its point home.

Bu­drus shows that non-vi­o­lent protest

can work.

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