(Mor­gan Spurlock, U. S.). 90 min­utes. Rat­ing: NN In­ves­ti­gat­ing the scourge of prod­uct place­ment in Tinseltown, stunt doc­u­men­tar­ian Mor­gan Spurlock ( Su­per Size Me) de­cides to make a movie en­tirely fi­nanced by spon­sor­ship, record­ing and ex­plain­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions for pos­ter­ity. The re­sult is POM Won­der­ful Presents: The Great­est Movie Ever Sold, a tes­ta­ment to the power of the Iron Man Slurpee and the will­ing­ness of a film­maker to whore him­self out for a huge cheque.

Spurlock tries to in­su­late him­self by ad­mit­ting he’s pros­ti­tut­ing his movie up front, but he keeps back­ing away from the deeper im­pli­ca­tions of what he’s do­ing. Any­body can get Rush Hour 3’s Brett Ratner to scoff at the no­tion of artis­tic in­tegrity in Hol­ly­wood, so why not in­ter­view an ac­tual artist in­stead? And it’s disin­gen­u­ous of Spurlock to so­licit ad­vice on de­vel­op­ing his per­sonal brand when he’s been do­ing that full­time for seven years.

It’s just the same meta- gag over and over again: Spurlock sets the terms of a spon­sor’s ad buy, de­liv­ers on those terms within the movie and waits for the au­di­ence’s know­ing laugh­ter. But that au­di­ence is still watch­ing an ad. Thurs­day ( April 28), 6: 30 pm, Win­ter Gar­den; Fri­day ( April 29), 4:15 pm, Is­abel Bader.


(Pe­tra Ep­per­lein, Michael Tucker, USA). 85 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN Weav­ing mo­ments of psy­cho­log­i­cal in­sight into a crowd- pleas­ing un­der­dog nar­ra­tive, Fightville of­fers fans of mixed mar­tial arts an en­er­getic look be­hind the scenes of their beloved sport, while still func­tion­ing as an in­ci­sive doc­u­men­tary. Pe­tra Ep­per­lein and Michael Tucker, direc­tors of Gun­ner Palace and The Pris­oner, Or: How I Planned To Kill Tony Blair, ex­am­ine the MMA cir­cuit in Louisville through the eyes of upand- com­ing fight­ers Dustin Poirier and Al­bert Stain­back.

Us­ing tiny dig­i­tal cam­eras, the direc­tors cap­ture in­tense footage of the matches, but they’re equally good at get­ting close to the fight­ers and their coaches out­side the ring, as we see when Stain­back shares a har­row­ing mem­ory of do­mes­tic abuse with­out seem­ing to un­der­stand how his past has led him to adopt a stage per­sona bor­rowed from the droogs in A Clock­work Orange.

It’s not for the squea­mish – the cage matches get pretty messy – but just about ev­ery­one else should find some­thing to ap­pre­ci­ate. Thurs­day ( April 28), 9: 30 pm, Win­ter Gar­den; Fri­day ( April 29), 1: 45 pm, Is­abel Bader; Tues­day (May 3), 3: 45 pm, Cum­ber­land 2.


(Jörg Adolph, Gereon Wet­zel, Ger­many). 90 min. Some Ger­man (no sub­ti­tles). Rat­ing: NNNN Bi­b­lio­philes, art lovers and those who own the DVD of Hel­vetica will adore this film about Ger­hard Steidl, the bril­liant pub­lisher whose lov­ingly crafted art books have made his tiny in­de­pen­dent pub­lish­ing house in a small Ger­man town world-renowned.

Direc­tors Jörg Adolph and Gereon Wet­zel follow the fas­tid­i­ous, dryly hu­mor­ous Steidl as he vis­its his clients, who range from Robert Frank and Ed Ruscha to Karl Lager­feld and Gün­ter Grass. We learn lit­tle about the man him­self; a rare mo­ment of com­edy comes when one of his pens leaks in his shirt pocket. But watch­ing him go from the be­gin­ning of a project to the end with pho­tog­ra­pher Joel

Stern­feld teaches you ev­ery­thing about his aes­thetic and phi­los­o­phy, which is re­fresh­ing in the dig­i­tal age. GS Fri­day ( April 29), 6 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 2; Satur­day ( April 30), 4 pm, Cum­ber­land 2.


(Göran Hugo Ols­son, Swe­den). 93 min­utes. Some sub­ti­tles. Rat­ing: NNNN This ex­cel­lent pic puts the “doc­u­ment” in doc­u­men­tary, un­cov­er­ing spec­tac­u­lar footage of black ac­tivists shot by Swedish jour­nal­ists in the late 60s and early 70s. In th­ese ar­chives, Stokely Carmi

chael in­ter­views his mother, Mal­colm X works the crowd, and An­gela Davis speaks her mind about how the racists, not the ac­tivists, are the vi­o­lent ones. Scenes show the Black Pan­thers mo­bi­liz­ing com­mu­ni­ties, launch­ing free break­fast pro­grams and teach­ing kids. Then, what some call a con­spir­acy to dump drugs into black com­mu­ni­ties sapped all that po­lit­i­cal en­ergy.

To give the film some shape, con­tem­po­rary artists in­clud­ing Erykah Badu and a su­per-ar­tic­u­late Talib Kweli ex­press their debt to the pe­riod. But it’s the archival footage that mat­ters here.

Warn­ing: sub­ti­tles for the Swedish voice- over, thanks to light back­grounds, are hard to read. SGC Fri­day ( April 29), 6: 30 pm, Bloor; Mon­day (May 2), 1 pm, Cum­ber­land 2; May 7, 9 pm, Bloor.


(Jay Cheel, Canada). 90 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN Years be­fore YouTube or the Jack­ass phe­nom­e­non, Ralph Zavadil be­gan video­tap­ing his shaggy- haired al­ter ego, Cap’n Video’s, silly and stupid an­tics – snort­ing raw eggs, to­bog­gan­ing off a roof – for a Ni­a­gara re­gion cable ac­cess show. He soon be­came a lo­cal cult fig­ure and, after he broke his neck jumping from a lad­der into a pool, a mo­men­tary in­ter­na­tional celebrity.

Jay Cheel checks in with him nearly two decades later, try­ing to find out what mo­ti­vated him and how his shot at fame in the U. S. fell through.

Zavadil, still ath­letic and charis­matic, isn’t the most in­tro­spec­tive per­son, but his phi­los­o­phy of hav­ing fun while you can is in­fec­tious. Cheel ex­pertly in­ter­weaves archival footage, find­ing sur­pris­ing emo­tional beats that add tex­ture and com­plex­ity to the man. GS Fri­day ( April 29), 6: 45 pm, Is­abel Bader; Wed­nes­day (May 4), 7: 30 pm, Rooftop; May 7, 4:15 pm,

Is­abel Bader.


(Gereon Wet­zel, Ger­many). 108 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNN Star chef Fer­ran Adrià and his team in­vent new dishes for his fa­mous El Bulli restau­rant near Roses, Cat­alo­nia, watched by Gereon Wet­zel and crew’s com­pletely neu­tral cam­era.

No bel­low­ing ego-trip­pers here. Adrià’s chefs work almost as silently as sci­en­tists in a lab, dream­ing up con­coc­tions like ice vinai-

grette or cock­tails made with oil, then giv­ing them to a pa­tient Adrià to test out.

The tast­ing menu – 40 dishes in all – flashes by at the end in a se­ries of spec­tac­u­lar images. Sad note to food­ies: the resto has since closed, though not many of us could have af­forded the lux­ury of check­ing it out. SGC Fri­day ( April 29), 8: 45 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 2; Satur­day, April 30, 1 pm, Cum­ber­land 2; May 8, 3 pm, Cum­ber­land 3.


(James New­ton, UK). 59 min­utes. Rat­ing: NN This could have been a great por­trait of a South Leeds troupe of cheer­lead­ers – almost all of them the sons of sin­gle moth­ers – re­hears­ing for com­pe­ti­tion. But the film gives too lit­tle time to the ob­vi­ous gen­der is­sues, too lit­tle in­for­ma­tion about the cheer­lead­ing pro­gram – like who’s fund­ing it – and too lit­tle back­ground into free­wheel­ing coach Ian Rod­ley.

Dis­ap­point­ing. SGC Fri­day ( April 29), 9 pm, Cum­ber­land 2; Sun­day (May 1), 4: 30 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 3; May 8, 6: 45 pm, Is­abel Bader.


(Fen­ton Bai­ley, Randy Bar­bato, U. S.). 85 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN This story about the off­spring of Sonny

and Cher Bono as he tran­si­tioned from Chastity to Chaz works for three main rea­sons.

First, though it can’t help but pay at­ten­tion to Chaz’s pedi­gree, it isn’t ob­sessed with it. Sec­ond, a last- reel se­quence in which fam­i­lies as­sist young trans­gen­dered chil­dren with their even­tual tran­si­tion­ing process feels very new.

And most im­por­tant, the film takes an in­ti­mate look at the ma­jor steps in Chaz’s tran­si­tion – the hor­mone treat­ments, the breast surg­eries – and their im­pact on his re­la­tion­ship with his very can­did live-in girl­friend, Jen­nifer Elia, who’s not com­fort­able with all the changes. Im­pres­sive. SGC Fri­day ( April 29), 9:15 pm, Bloor; Sun­day (May 1), 4 pm; May 8 6: 45 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 2.


(Matt Gal­lagher, Canada). 75 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN Here’s a doc about Toronto poker play­ers that doesn’t win the jack­pot. Gambling is just one of Daniel’s ad­dic­tions; he thinks he plays bet­ter when he’s drunk. Mr. Per­son­al­ity,

An­dre, gets him­self a spot on the Vic­tory Tour by win­ning an on­line contest. Lawrence runs his own poker club, only to en­counter prob­lems with his land­lord.

Di­rec­tor Matt Gal­lagher ap­plies some smart strate­gies. He uses Elvis as a metaphor to good ef­fect, and the idea of in­ter­view­ing Cana­dian poker star Daniel Ne­gre­anu, who’s liv­ing ev­ery player’s fan­tasy, while he’s putting on his pri­vate golf course is in­spired.

But Toronto’s scene is just not that in­ter­est­ing, and the film misses be­ing grip­ping. SGC Fri­day ( April 29), 9: 45 pm, Is­abel Bader; May 7, 9: 30 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 1; May 8, 6: 30 pm, Fox.

Satur­day, April 30


(Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross, U. S.). 90 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN 45365 refers to the zip code of the small town of Sid­ney, Ohio, and by the end of this richly poetic film, you’ll feel like you know the place in­ti­mately.

The direc­tors’ un­ob­tru­sive cam­eras cap­ture seem­ingly or­di­nary mo­ments at county fairs, wed­dings, hair sa­lons and ra­dio sta­tions.

There’s not much of a nar­ra­tive, but we re­turn to a few sub­jects – a young woman who wants to break up with her boyfriend, a fam­ily in­volved in petty crime. And the film gains some ten­sion in track­ing both a big high school foot­ball game (well at­tended) and some sort of mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion (less so).

Var­i­ous ver­sions of the song Beau­ti­ful Ohio pro­vide a nos­tal­gic back­drop to the lyri­cal on­screen images. GS Satur­day ( April 30), 11 am, ROM.


(Mareille Klein, Julie Kreuzer, Ger­many). 82 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing:

NNN A mid­dle-aged two-time con­victed child sex of­fender named Karl D. moves in with his brother’s fam­ily in a small Ger­man town, re­sult­ing in non­stop ha­rass­ment of the fam­ily by neigh­bours and even the po­lice.

Direc­tors Mareille Klein and Julie Kreuzer give lots of time to a group of blood­thirsty demon­stra­tors, Karl’s hot­headed brother, Hel­mut, and sev­eral angry fe­male neigh­bours who grad­u­ally re­veal why they’re so pas­sion­ate about the is­sue.

The aloof Karl re­mains a more mys­te­ri­ous fig­ure, es­pe­cially after the film takes a sur­pris­ing mid­point turn. The lack of a pat end­ing makes the film’s disturbing mes­sage linger. GS Satur­day ( April 30), 3: 45 pm, ROM; Sun­day (May 1), 7:15 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 4.


(Eric Strauss and Daniele Anas­ta­sion, U. S.). 83 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN Com­pelling and disturbing in equal mea­sure, The Re­demp­tion Of Gen­eral Butt Naked raises a lot of ques­tions where no easy an­swers are pos­si­ble.

Its tit­u­lar sub­ject, a for­mer Liberian war­lord who used to march in just sneak­ers and an AK- 47, is re­spon­si­ble for the hor­rific mur­der of thou­sands, women and chil­dren in­cluded. Now he is Evan­ge­list Joshua Mil­ton Blahyi, who swears by Je­sus and preaches for­give­ness, pos­si­bly for self­ish rea­sons.

Direc­tors Eric Strauss and Daniele Anas­ta­sion trust the au­di­ence to form their own opin­ions about the larg­erthan-life fig­ure whose car­toon­ish en­ergy and per­sua­sive charisma mo­ti­vate a re­li­gious con­gre­ga­tion in the same way that they once ral­lied child sol­diers. RS Satur­day ( April 30), 9: 45 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 2; Mon­day (May 2), 3: 45 pm, Cum­ber­land 2; May 7, 9: 45 pm, Cum­ber­land 2.


(Michael Rapaport, U. S.). 98 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN Michael Rapaport’s A Tribe Called Quest bio of­ten feels like any other E! celebrity pro­file about a suc­cess­ful band that just can’t keep it to­gether. There’s noth­ing new about the bick­er­ing be­tween lead rap­pers Q-Tip and Phife, or their re­dun­dant breakup-and-re­union cy­cle. It helps that th­ese lyri­cists are our key nar­ra­tors, so at least they add wit and hu­mour to their brief his­tory.

What was and still is ground­break­ing is Tribe’s mu­sic: con­scious rhymes spit over remixed jazz sam­ples. In the film’s first half, Rapaport de­liv­ers a sweet, nos­tal­gic trip back to the days when hiphop heads rocked boom boxes in­stead of iPhones and blasted Tribe and De La Soul’s back­pack raps in­stead of the Auto-Tuned tracks dom­i­nat­ing air­waves to­day. As soon as the mu­sic stops and the per­sonal con­flicts get in the way, this doc be­comes the same old song. RS Satur­day ( April 30), 6: 30 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 1.


( Michael Galin­sky/Suki Haw­ley, U. S.). 94 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN De­vel­op­ment company For­est City Ratner is de­ter­mined to raze a full 18 hectares of Brook­lyn to make way for a new

arena for the New Jersey Nets, new con­dos and shops, but ten­ant Daniel Gold

stein has no in­ten­tion of leav­ing his apart­ment. He or­ga­nizes the com­mu­nity to protest.

Not that ev­ery­one sup­ports him. Many Brook­lynites like the prospect of an in­flux of money and new jobs.

Su­perb sto­ry­telling and great char­ac­ters, es­pe­cially charis­matic city coun­cil­lor Laeti­tia James, make this a must­see. SGC Satur­day ( April 30), 7 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 2; Sun­day (May 1), 1: 30 pm, Cum­ber­land 2.


(David York, Canada). 94 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNNN See cover story and re­view, page 6. Satur­day ( April 30), 7 pm, Is­abel Bader; Tues­day (May 3), 7:15 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 4; May 7, 7 pm, Re­gent.


(Laura Fair­rie, UK). 85 min­utes. Rat­ing:

NNN Laura Fair­rie looks at the 2008 elec­tion, dur­ing which the anti-im­mi­gra­tion Na­tional Party, whose slo­gan is “Give Bri­tain back to the Bri­tish,” went all out to make ma­jor gains, tar­get­ing the Bark­ing rid­ing where long-time Labour MP Mar­garet Hodge was try­ing to hold onto her seat

Po­lit­i­cally, the film’s a bit of a cheat. It ren­ders com­pletely in­vis­i­ble the Lib­eral and Tory can­di­dates who were run­ning as well, and the race was never re­ally as tense as Fair­rie makes out.

But her por­trait of charis­matic BNP party leader Nick Grif­fin is terrifying, and the white con­stituents whose anger and ig­no­rance he taps are truly sad. SGC Satur­day ( April 30), 9: 30 pm, Cum­ber­land 2; Mon­day (May 2), 4: 30 pm, ROM. (Jaret Bel­liveau, Canada). 97 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN In High­way Gospel, Jaret Bel­liveau looks at both a rowdy group of world­class BC long­board­ers who race down moun­tain high­ways and a mid­dle-aged Ot­tawa slalom skate­boarder who at­tempts a come­back be­fore his sec­ond heart surgery.

The doc suf­fers from a dis­ori­ent­ing be­gin­ning but gets back on track when it finds the story it wants to tell, cli­max­ing in two sep­a­rate races. A cou­ple of sub­jects aren’t the most com­pelling – and where are the women? – but Bel­liveau makes great use of Seth Ro­gen-look-a-like Bricin Lyons, whose ex­u­ber­ance and play-by-play an­nouncer tal­ents are doc­u­men­tary gold.

The film’s soul, though, lies in for­mer champ Claude Reg­nier, who risks his health, his re­la­tion­ships and his dwin­dling bank ac­count for the sport he loves. GS Satur­day ( April 30), 9: 30 pm, Royal; Mon­day (May 2), 9: 30 pm, ROM; May 7, 11: 45 pm, Bloor.


(mul­ti­ple direc­tors, Canada). 127 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN To cel­e­brate the cen­te­nary of Parks Can

ada, Joel McCon­vey, Ge­off Mor­ri­son and Ryan Noth as­sem­bled 13 film­mak­ers and 39 mu­si­cians to in­ter­pret the coun­try’s na­tional parks in a se­ries of beau­ti­fully pho­tographed shorts. (Imag­ine North Of Su­pe­rior with­out the un­com­fort­able pa­tri­o­tism.)

As with any om­nibus project, tone and con­tent vary wildly from one seg­ment to the next, and at just over two hours, The Na­tional Parks Project does drag on a bit; the ex­pe­ri­ence might fare bet­ter as a se­ries of in­di­vid­ual HD shorts than a con­tin­u­ous fea­ture film. (Dis­cov­ery World HD is a co-pro­ducer.)

For­tu­nately, the best parts are wait­ing at the end. Daniel Cock­burn of­fers a play­fully creepy take on On­tario’s Bruce Penin­sula (“the place you don’t re­mem­ber”), scored by John Sam­son, Chris­tine Fel­lows and San­dro Perri;

Hu­bert Davis brings Kath­leen Ed

wards, Sam Roberts and Matt Mays to Man­i­toba’s Wa­pusk Na­tional Park; and

Kevin McMa­hon takes an im­pres­sion­is­tic trip along the Na­hanni River in the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries, scored by Olga

Goreas, Jace Lasek and Shad. NW Satur­day ( April 30), 9: 30 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 1; Mon­day (May 2), 9:15 pm, Royal.


(Ab­ner Be­naim, Panama). 64 min. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNN A doc in which Pana­ma­nian do­mes­tic work­ers and their bosses gripe about each other seems almost too easy, but di­rec­tor Ab­ner Be­naim finds a wide range of pas­sion­ate char­ac­ters and themes. The maids and nan­nies com­plain about money, sex­ual abuse and be­ing far from home (many are im­mi­grants), while the em­ploy­ers bitch about their work­ers’ lazi­ness, lack of so­cial graces and (in one in­stance) a pos­si­ble case of black magic.

Raised in Panama City, Be­naim never in­jects him­self into the film; it’s up to the viewer to see who’s be­ing hon­est in some cases. But he un­earths lots of truths about class, dig­nity, lone­li­ness and mu­tual re­spect. Look for the proud maid and her señora, who’ve been to­gether for decades yet barely talk to each other. GS Satur­day ( April 30), 9 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 4; Mon­day (May 2), 1: 45 pm, ROM.


(Alex Gib­ney, Ali­son Ell­wood, U. S.). 90 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN Os­car-win­ning di­rec­tor Alex Gib­ney ( Taxi To The Dark Side) re­turns with a doc­u­men­tary re­trac­ing the cross- coun­try drive of Ken Ke­sey and his band of Merry Pranksters in an old yel­low school bus in the sum­mer of 1964, whacked out on var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions of LSD, speed and promis­cu­ity. Ke­sey and his friends filmed the en­tire jour­ney, and their re­cently re­dis­cov­ered footage con­sti­tutes the bulk of this doc, with Stan­ley Tucci and voice ac­tors “dis­cussing” the trip on the sound­track.

It’s harm­less enough, as boomer nos- tal­gia goes, but Gib­ney and co- di­rec­tor

Ali­son Ell­wood run out of gas once the gang gets to New York City. And it does seem odd that Tom Wolfe, who lit­er­ally wrote the book on Ke­sey and the Pranksters with The Elec­tric Kool-Aid Acid Test, is nei­ther seen nor heard. NW Satur­day ( April 30), 9: 45 pm, Is­abel Bader; Mon­day (May 2), 3: 30 pm, Is­abel Bader.


(Liz Gar­bus, U. S.). 93 min­utes. Rat­ing: NN Ge­nius, cham­pion, mad­man – what­ever you call Bobby Fis­cher, it only cap­tures one facet of his cu­ri­ous per­son­al­ity. The Amer­i­can-born chess master eludes clas­si­fi­ca­tion once again in Bobby Fis­cher Against The World, which ex­am­ines his rise and fall through the prism of his leg­endary 1972 face- off in Ice­land with Soviet cham­pion Boris Spassky.

Di­rec­tor Liz Gar­bus ( The Farm) hangs her anal­y­sis on the pop the­sis that Fis­cher was some­how driven mad by chess, avoid­ing the flip side of that the­ory, which sug­gests that the rigid­ity of the game ap­peals to peo­ple seek­ing sta­bil­ity. ( The fa­mously ob­ses­sive Fis­cher cer­tainly dis­plays Asperger’s- like symp­toms in the archival footage Gar­bus re­lies upon.)

But there are few things duller than watch­ing peo­ple watch other peo­ple play­ing chess, and Gar­bus never finds a way to bring the sport to cin­e­matic life.

NW Sun­day (May 1), 1: 30 pm, Is­abel Bader; Tues­day (May 3), 7 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 3.


(Igal Hecht, Canada). 45 min­utes. Some sub­ti­tles. Rat­ing: NN Igal Hecht, pro­ducer of last year’s The Story Of Fu­ri­ous Pete, takes his cam­era to the hill­tops of the West Bank and the Golan Heights, where fun­da­men­tal­ist Jews are build­ing il­le­gal set­tle­ments in Pales­tinian ter­ri­tory. The set­tlers ar­gue that the land was given to them by God, and no peace agree­ment can negate that com­pact; the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment would re­ally like them to stop, since it’s of­fen­sive to Pales­tini­ans and gen­er­ally fuck­ing up the peace process.

It’s a great topic, but Hecht bob­bles the ex­e­cu­tion, spend­ing half an hour let­ting the set­tlers state their case over and over again. The doc’s last third picks up with a fas­ci­nat­ing con­ver­sa­tion be­tween two set­tlers and a very pa­tient Pales­tinian gen­tle­man, plus footage of a set­tle­ment be­ing torn down by the Is­raeli mil­i­tary, but that just left me won­der­ing why Hecht didn’t tell those sto­ries from the start. NW Sun­day (May 1), 4: 30 pm, ROM; Tues­day (May 3), 9: 45 pm, Cum­ber­land 2.


(Aaron Walker, U. S.). 86 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN In New Or­leans, an en­clave of Afro-Americans have a Mardi Gras tra­di­tion of dress­ing up as In­di­ans to hon­our the

Na­tive Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties that har­boured blacks es­cap­ing from slav­ery in Louisiana’s bay­ous.

Bury The Hatchet spot­lights the ri­val “chiefs,” who lov­ingly con­struct and sew their spec­tac­u­lar Mardi Gras suits, at­tempt­ing to sus­tain their over100-year- old tra­di­tion.

It be­gins as a film about how the con­struc­tion of Louisiana’s In­ter­state 10 almost de­stroyed the com­mu­nity. But then the nar­ra­tive shifts when Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina hits, caus­ing much more dev­as­ta­tion and com­pelling the tribes to fi­nally bury their dif­fer­ences – hence the ti­tle.

Ter­rific char­ac­ters make this a pow­er­ful doc, and the jazz and Cre­ole mu­sic will knock you out. SGC Sun­day (May 1), 7 pm, Cum­ber­land 3; Tues­day (May 3), 4: 30 pm, Cum­ber­land 3.


(Jan­nik Splids­boel, Den­mark). 70 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNN Berlin queer art duo Michael Elm­green and In­gar Dragset, fa­mous for their out­ra­geous art in­stal­la­tions (e.g., sit­ing a Prada bou­tique in the Texan desert), con­ceive and ex­e­cute their piece for the 2009 Venice Bi­en­nale in this fas­ci­nat­ing ret­ro­spec­tive and study of artists at work.

Their 2008 memo­rial to gays per­se­cuted in Nazi Ger­many, a video loop inside a per­ma­nent con­crete struc­ture in a Berlin park, shows two men kiss­ing. Their bi­en­nale in­stal­la­tion feigns the sale of two metic­u­lously de­signed liv­ing spa­ces. In one, shown by faux real es­tate agents, a man ap­pears to be drowned in the swimming pool.

Though the art is ter­rific, How Are You could use a lit­tle more drama and diva be­hav­iour. Some­times th­ese guys are just too easy- go­ing to be true. SGC Sun­day (May 1), 7 pm, ROM; Wed­nes­day (May 4), 4 pm, ROM.


(Matvei Zhivov, Roger Singh, An­drew Moniz, Rock Bai­j­nauth, Canada). 72 min­utes. Some sub­ti­tles. Rat­ing: NNN So­mali- Cana­dian Mo­hamed Ashareh heads back to his home coun­try – with cam­era crew in tow and, even­tu­ally, his own hid­den cam­era – to find out what he can about pi­rates op­er­at­ing off So­ma­lia’s coast.

It’s a thrilling idea, and the film de­liv­ers a whack of use­ful in­for­ma­tion, but the pol­i­tics are con­fus­ing. At first the pi­rates seem to be rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies protest­ing over­fish­ing and the dump­ing of toxic waste into their seas by ve­nal cor­po­ra­tions. But then they just take the money and run, never giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity.

And we’re never clear on what’s driv­ing Ashareh be­sides his de­ter­mi­na­tion to put him­self in dan­ger. When things do go wrong for him, though, The Pi­rate Tapes is riv­et­ing. SGC Sun­day (May 1), 9:15 pm, Bloor; May 7 4:15 pm, Cum­ber­land 2; May 8, 9 pm, Fox.

Mon­day, May 2


(Katie Gal­loway, Kelly Duane de la Vega, U. S./UK). 95 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN Bet­ter This World tells the dis­qui­et­ing story of David McKay and Bradley Crow­der, friends from Mid­land, Texas, ar­rested dur­ing the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion of 2008 in St. Paul, Min­nesota. Charged with man­u­fac­tur­ing Molo­tov cock­tails with the in­tent of us­ing them against po­lice­men and se­cu­rity forces, they’re painted as ter­ror­ists and face se­ri­ous prison time – but the case against them isn’t nearly as sim­ple as it looks.

With re­mark­able ac­cess to the ac­cused and their fam­i­lies, direc­tors Katie Gal­loway and Kelly Duane de la Vega present the friends’ le­gal odyssey as a snap­shot of Amer­ica’s steady sus­pen­sion of es­sen­tial lib­er­ties in the wake of 9/ 11, as the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion slowly evis­cer­ated the Con­sti­tu­tion and Bill Of Rights. That dam­age will take decades to re­pair, but this doc­u­men­tary of­fers re­form­ers an ex­cel­lent start­ing point.

NW Mon­day (May 2), 6 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 1; Wed­nes­day (May 4), 4:15 pm, Cum­ber­land 3.


(Ju­lia Ivanova, Canada). 92 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNNNN Here’s an emotionally ab­sorb­ing sub­ject filled with lay­ers of com­plex­ity. In a mod­est house in a small Ukrainian town, Olga Nenya raises 27 kids, among them 16 black chil­dren who were aban­doned by their moth­ers and or­phaned be­cause of their race.

There’s ten­sion with the out­side com­mu­nity – ig­no­rant neigh­bours, tsk-tsk­ing health in­spec­tors – but there’s also bick­er­ing within the mixed fam­ily, as the loving, hard­work­ing yet hard­line Nenya gushes over one no- good son while stand­ing in the way of another’s tal­ent for soc­cer or a daugh­ter’s de­sire to move to Italy. ( After the Ch­er­nobyl dis­as­ter, a sum­mer ex­change be­tween Ukrainian kids and Euro­pean fam­i­lies be­gan.)

The next-to- last scene, in which one of Nenya’s chil­dren de­scribes his treat­ment in a psych in­sti­tu­tion, is so full of hor­rific de­tails it couldn’t be made up.

GS Mon­day (May 2), 6: 45 pm, Cum­ber­land 2; Wed­nes­day (May 4), 4: 30 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 3; May 8, 3: 30 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 3. (Jet Ho­moet, Sharog Hesh­mat Manesh, Nether­lands). 85 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNN This canny study of Maryam, an in­de­pen­dent Irani woman pre­par­ing for mar­riage, starts slowly, but it steadily builds steam to re­veal some startling con­tra­dic­tions.

For in­stance, although the ay­a­tol­lahs still have po­lit­i­cal power and women cover up in pub­lic, Maryam and her sis­ter Ghazal con­trol the house­hold and bring in the bread. Hus­band-to- be Aqbar ap­pre­ci­ates Maryam’s strength but won’t let her set terms for the mar­riage agree­ment.

A se­quence in which Ghazal and her English stu­dent ref­er­ence Jane Austen while dis­cussing women’s place in Ira­nian so­ci­ety is very smart. And if you need a dose of pos­i­tiv­ity, the last scene de­liv­ers. SGC Mon­day (May 2), 7:15 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 3; Wed­nes­day (May 4), 1: 30 pm, ROM.

Tues­day, May 3


(Susan Sal­ad­off, U. S.). 92 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN Susan Sal­ad­off’s doc­u­men­tary ex­plores the in­sid­i­ous ways in which Amer­i­can cor­po­ra­tions work to limit their le­gal li­a­bil­ity in neg­li­gence suits, us­ing the in­fa­mous McDon­ald’s case as a jumping- off point. ( Se­nior cit­i­zen Stella Liebeck re­ceived third- de­gree burns when she ac­ci­den­tally spilled her su­per­heated bev­er­age on her thighs; McDon­ald’s spun her sub­se­quent le­gal ac­tion as a mer­it­less joke suit. The cor­po­rate ver­sion caught on with late- night comics and pun­dits.)

Ad­vo­cacy doc­u­men­taries are sup­posed to be rous­ing and en­er­giz­ing, but with its tales of de­lib­er­ate mis­in­for­ma­tion, as­tro­turf­ing, in­flu­ence ped­dling and as­sorted other dirty tricks, Hot Cof­fee is more likely to send you out of the the­atre with an ur­gent need to check the fine print on your cell­phone con­tract. NW Tues­day (May 3), 7 pm, Royal; May 5, 1: 30 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 3.


(Dan­fung Den­nis, UK/U. S.). 88 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN Win­ner of two prizes at Sundance, this har­row­ing study of the hu­man cost of the Afghanistan war plays out in two dis­crete time­lines. In one, a pla­toon of U. S. Marines clashes with Tal­iban guer­ril­las; in the other, a few months later, Sgt. Nathan Har­ris strug­gles through a gru­elling re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process after he’s shot in an am­bush.

Di­rec­tor Dan­fung Den­nis is best known as a war pho­tog­ra­pher, and he has a ter­rific eye; this is one of the best­look­ing docs I’ve seen in years. But it’s also emotionally im­me­di­ate and for­mally ac­com­plished, with con­fi­dent tran­si­tions be­tween the two time frames that bring us closer and closer to the strug­gling Har­ris. It turns out there was some­where to take the boots- on-the­ground doc after Restrepo and Ar­madillo after all. NW Tues­day (May 3), 7: 30 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 1; May 5, 4 pm, Is­abel Bader.


(Erika Hnikova, Czech Repub­lic/Slo­vakia). 72 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNN Match­mak­ing Mayor tack­les the is­sue of eco­nomic stag­na­tion and so­cial dif­fu­sion in East­ern Europe from an un­ex­pected an­gle. Erika Hnikova’s doc­u­men­tary tracks the at­tempts of mayor Josef Ga­j­dos to spur a pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion in his tiny Slo­vak vil­lage of Zem­plínske Hámre by match­ing up the lo­cal sin­gles with an in­sis­tence that bor­ders on co­er­cion.

Try to watch this with­out re­call­ing Pierre Trudeau’s maxim about states hav­ing no business in the bed­rooms of the na­tion. The towns­folk cer­tainly seem less and less com­fort­able be­ing told to get busy by an elected of­fi­cial – who him­self grows less and less en­gag­ing over the course of the doc­u­men­tary. NW Tues­day (May 3), 9: 30 pm, Innis; Wed­nes­day (May 4), 2 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 4.


(David Weiss­man, U. S.). 90 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN There have been many docs about the AIDS cri­sis, but few have fo­cused solely on how the epi­demic af­fected San Francisco.

David Weiss­man’s straight­for­ward, in­for­ma­tive doc cen­tres on five sub­jects whose lives were rad­i­cally changed dur­ing that time. They range from a fe­male nurse and a male vol­un­teer work­ing on the front lines of treat­ment to a politi­cian deal­ing with mo­bi­liz­ing the city around is­sues like safe sex, quar­an­tine and ac­cess to ex­per­i­men­tal drugs.

The heart of the film, how­ever, be­longs to Daniel Gold­stein, an HIV- posi- tive artist who watched most of his friends and two long-term part­ners lose their strug­gle with AIDS.

Rich archival ma­te­rial and many in­spir­ing tales of courage and com­pas­sion make this a wor­thy doc­u­ment to a dif­fi­cult era. GS Tues­day (May 3), 9: 30 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 1; May 5, 1: 45 pm, ROM.


(Is­abelle Lav­i­gne, Stéphane Thibault, Canada). 80 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNNN In Cairo, one-time belly dancer Reda teaches the dy­ing art to her daugh­ters, three of her seven chil­dren, with whom she fights about their money, drugs and boyfriends.

This is one of those docs that thrusts you into another cul­ture. Here, women per­form in all- male en­vi­ron­ments – mostly wed­ding- re­lated – and yet the dan­ger fac­tor is strangely low.

Though it’s a tad long, the film fea­tures some breathtaking images: Reda train­ing her gum- chew­ing teen daugh­ter, who looks like a young child; male wed­ding guests throw­ing money at the groom; a young girl’s hands as she prac­tises tra­di­tional move­ments.

Very strong. SGC Tues­day (May 3), 10 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 4; May 6, 1:15 pm, ROM.


(Brent Green, U. S.). 72 min­utes. Rat­ing: NN There’s al­ways one ex­per­i­men­tal doc­u­men­tary that aims big and misses com­pletely. This year it’s Brent Green’s candy- coloured hip­ster fable about a Ken­tucky hard­ware store clerk who retro­fit­ted the home he shared with his wife into a sort of heal­ing cham­ber after she fell ill.

Though it’s ini­tially in­trigu­ing, Green’s hand­made aes­thetic quickly be­comes in­suf­fer­able, and ev­ery artis­tic choice the di­rec­tor makes – shoot­ing his ac­tors in a form of stop-mo­tion, read­ing the narration as though he’s con­stantly on the verge of tears – works against the story’s emo­tional im­pact. It’s like watch­ing a long-form Bright Eyes video. NW Wed­nes­day (May 4), 7: 30 pm, Cum­ber­land 3; May 6, 6:15 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 4.


(Ge­or­gia Guerra- Peixe, Brazil/Por­tu­gal). 72 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN We’ve all heard the samba beats so char­ac­ter­is­tic of Rio de Janeiro’s Car­ni­val. Now we get a back­stage pass to one of Rio’s beat fac­to­ries.

Ge­or­gia Guerra- Peixe’s doc is a vis­ually ar­rest­ing trib­ute to the Mangueira Hill neigh­bour­hood, where, de­spite the di­lap­i­dated con­di­tions, poverty and crime, a rich cul­ture and vi- brant per­son­al­i­ties thrive. The film might frus­trate those look­ing for a dra­matic story or character. Guerra- Peixe for­goes any sem­blance of a nar­ra­tive, al­low­ing her cam­era to sim­ply dance to the rhythms of daily life in Mangueira.

The film tours through back al­leys and into the homes where the mu­sic is born. It’s a far cry from the spec­ta­cle of Car­ni­val. RS Wed­nes­day (May 4), 7: 30 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 3; May 6, 1 pm, Cum­ber­land 3.


(Keirda Bahruth, U. S.). 86 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN “Bob” is Bob For­rest, front­man for the un­quan­tifi­able band Th­elo­nious Mon­ster, which helped de­fine Cal­i­for­nia’s un­der­ground rock scene in the 80s along­side Fish­bone and Red Hot Chili Pep­pers. But the mon­ster of Keirda Bahruth’s ti­tle is ad­dic­tion, which brought For­rest’s mu­si­cal ca­reer down in a haze of smack, booze and emo­tional in­sta­bil­ity. For­tu­nately for him and dozens of other ad­dicts, For­rest sur­vived to be­come a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion coun­sel­lor, work­ing specif­i­cally with mu­si­cians.

Bob And The Mon­ster is aw­fully for­mu­laic; there are long stretches where it plays like the grimmest- ever episode of Be­hind The Mu­sic, with mis­er­able tes­ti­mo­ni­als from For­rest (look­ing eerily like the ghost of War­ren Zevon) and his fa­mous friends. But the third act, fo­cus­ing on his re­cov­ery and ca­reer res­ur­rec­tion, pays off. NW Wed­nes­day (May 4), 9 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 2; May 6, 9: 30 pm, Cum­ber­land 3.


(Marie Losier, U. S.). 72 min­utes. Rat­ing:

NNN In Bal­lad, part of Hot Docs’ very strong Next com­po­nent of films about the arts, cre­ativ­ity and pop cul­ture, vi­sion­ary and in­dus­trial mu­sic ground­breaker Gen­e­sis P- Or­ridge re­calls his love af­fair with his late muse, Lady Jaye. The two, al­ways de­voted to liv­ing large, took them­selves and their art so se­ri­ously that they made their own bod­ies their pri­mary art project, pur­su­ing cos­metic surg­eries that would make them look like twins.

In her de­but fea­ture, ex­per­i­men­tal short ex­pert Marie Losier mines a trove of archival video – the cou­ple and their friends shot just about ev­ery­thing they did – to draw a com­pelling por­trait. In the end, though, the por­trait is more of P- Or­ridge than of the cou­ple. SGC Wed­nes­day (May 4), 9: 30 pm, Bloor; May 6, 11: 45 pm, Bloor; May 8, 8: 45 pm, ROM.

Thurs­day, May 5


(Billy Cor­ben, U. S.). 101 min­utes. Rat­ing:

NNN Caught some­where be­tween a time cap­sule of Man­hat­tan club-scene wack­i­ness and a le­gal pro­ce­dural, Lime­light fol­lows the ups and downs of On­tario- born night­club im­pre­sario Peter Ga­tien, who ruled the night life in the 80s and early 90s be­fore get­ting side­tracked by charges that he was of us­ing his clubs – specif­i­cally the Lime­light and the Tun­nel – to sell ec­stasy and co­caine, among other things.

Tarted up with cheesy disco- era visual gim­micks and wall-to-wall techno beats, Lime­light is a stylis­tic mess that nonethe­less of­fers an in­trigu­ing look at Gi­u­liani- era New York City from an un­likely per­spec­tive. And if you get the feel­ing that the whole thing was pro­duced in the ser­vice of Ga­tien’s im­age re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, well, you also get the feel­ing the guy might de­serve the chance to clear his name. NW May 5, 6 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 1; May 7, 4 pm, ROM.


(Mia Dono­van, Canada). 81 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN Pho­tog­ra­pher and film­maker Mia Dono­van pur­sues her in­ter­est in the com­mod­i­fi­ca­tion of sex­ual de­sire in this disturbing film about the first fe­male porn star ever di­ag­nosed with HIV.

Dono­van tracks the naive Lara Roxx, whom we first meet in a psy­chi­atric ward in Mon­treal, aban­doned by the me­dia that made her story a sen­sa­tion, as she pre­pares to head back to L. A. to rein­vent her­self.

There are some very ten­der mo­ments, es­pe­cially with Lara’s mom, but the film doesn’t re­ally get go­ing un­til Roxx re­turns to Mon­treal mid­way through the film. Still, Dono­van does good work in prob­ing the re­la­tion­ship be­tween film­maker and sub­ject. SGC May 5, 6: 30 pm, Bloor; May 6, 9: 45 pm, Cum­ber­land 2; May 8, 9: 30 pm, Royal.


(Ro­han Fer­nando, Canada). 70 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN If The Choco­late Farmer feels like it’s go­ing nowhere, that’s be­cause its sub­ject is headed in the same di­rec­tion.

Ro­han Fer­nando’s doc leisurely ob­serves Ela­dio Pop, a choco­late farmer in Belize who clings to an an­cient Mayan life­style while ev­ery­one around him – in­clud­ing some of his 15 chil­dren – is ea­ger to progress with glob­al­iza­tion and the cap­i­tal mar­kets. The film dab­bles in ex­oti­cism while it mourns the pass­ing of tra­di­tional agri­cul­ture, sym­pa­thiz­ing with the in­abil­ity of farm­ers like Ela­dio to sus­tain them­selves.

How­ever, it with­holds crit­i­cism of a man who stub­bornly re­fuses to adapt

and shies away from send­ing his kids to school, hop­ing they’ll carry on their past- due cul­ture. RS May 5, 7 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 3; May 7, 7:15 pm, Cum­ber­land 2; May 8, 1:15 pm, ROM.


(Gary Burns, Jim Brown, Canada). 92 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNN Gary Burns and Jim Brown pushed the doc­u­men­tary en­ve­lope with Ra­di­ant City, a look at ur­ban sprawl that had ac­tors play com­pos­ite char­ac­ters to il­lus­trate the in­creas­ing ho­mo­gene­ity of the Cana­dian ex­urbs.

In their new col­lab­o­ra­tion, The Fu­ture Is Now!, which takes the con­ceit a step fur­ther, a fic­tional Mon­treal jour­nal­ist ( Liane Bal­a­ban) tries to con­vince a fic­tional in­ter­view sub­ject ( Paul Ah­marani) that he shouldn’t be so pes­simistic about the fu­ture. The char­ac­ters – iden­ti­fied only as the Woman of To­mor­row and the Man of To­day – visit as­sorted artists and sci­en­tists to dis­cuss com­ing so­cial and philo­soph­i­cal changes, turn­ing a talk­ing-heads doc­u­men­tary into a more ac­ces­si­ble en­ter­tain­ment.

That’s the the­ory, any­way, but this time around the ar­ti­fice proves dis-tract­ing. Much as I’ve en­joyed Bal­a­ban and Ah­marani else­where, the real meat of this movie is in the in­ter­views. NW May 5, 9 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 1; May 7, 1 pm, Cum­ber­land 3.


(Jamie Kast­ner, Canada). 56 min­utes. Some sub­ti­tles. Rat­ing: NN Adopt­ing the iron­i­cally cheer­ful, com­mer­cial­ized style of An­drew Nisker’s Garbage! The Revo­lu­tion Starts At Home and Che­mer­i­cal, di­rec­tor Jamie

Kast­ner zips around the globe ex­am­in­ing how the world’s wealth­i­est peo­ple are cop­ing with the on­go­ing eco­nomic cri­sis. ( Turns out they’re barely feel­ing it, be­cause they’re still in­cred­i­bly wealthy.)

It’s a sub­ject worth in­ves­ti­gat­ing, but beyond point­ing out that multi- mil­lion­aires are only wast­ing tens of thou­sands on their creature com­forts th­ese days rather than hun­dreds of thou­sands, Kast­ner of­fers lit­tle in­sight or con­text – and his dis­gust at the sight of wealthy idiots pre­tend­ing to tighten their belts feels in­creas­ingly awk­ward as he flies around the world in­ter­view­ing them for

his movie. NW May 5, 9: 45 pm, ROM; May 7, 6: 30 pm, TIFF Bell Light­box 2.


(James Marsh, U. S./ UK). 93 min­utes. Rat­ing:

NNNNN James Marsh, di­rec­tor of the Os­car-win­ning Man On Wire, de­liv­ers another stranger-than-fic­tion tale of New York in the 1970s. Project Nim charts the odyssey of Nim Chimp­sky, a chim­panzee raised among hu­mans (and taught sign lan­guage) as part of a Columbia lin­guis­tics ex­per­i­ment.

It’s a project un­der­mined at almost ev­ery turn by stun­ning ar­ro­gance and in­com­pe­tence. By the time it’s over, you won’t be able to stand the sight of Her

bert Ter­race, who seems to have started the project so he could sleep with a se­ries of comely as­sis­tants, and you’ll be as­ton­ished at the twists and turns Nim’s story takes after he leaves Ter­race’s care.

One of the year’s best doc­u­men­taries. NW May 5, 9: 45 pm, Is­abel Bader; May 6, 11 am, Is­abel Bader.


(Jessica Oreck, U. S.). 90 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNNN While in­sects make most North Americans squirm, in Ja­pan many of the rarer species of winged and many-legged crit­ters are col­lected, bought and sold as house pets. Play­ful bee­tles show up as pro­tag­o­nists in kids’ video games, and an en­tire in­dus­try’s sprung up around catch­ing and rear­ing bugs.

Nar­rated in the sooth­ing tones of Haruku Shi­nozuki, Jessica Oreck’s hyp­notic, beau­ti­fully paced doc looks at Ja­panese cul­ture to find philo­soph­i­cal and spir­i­tual con­nec­tions be­tween man and na­ture. One com­ment about the Ja­panese spirit and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters is es­pe­cially re­veal­ing in light of the re­cent earth­quake and tsunami. GS

May 6, 7 pm, Innis.


(Antony Butts, UK). 65 min­utes. Subti­tled. Rat­ing: NNNN Film­maker Antony Butts brings his cam­era to the vil­lages near the for­mer Poly­gon test site in Kaza­khstan where decades of Rus­sian nu­clear test­ing have be­queathed a legacy of back­ground ra­di­a­tion, ge­netic dam­age and birth de­fects to the fam­i­lies liv­ing nearby.

And it just gets worse. Butts in­tro­duces a doc­tor who’s work­ing to curb the num­ber of “so­cially un­wanted preg­nan­cies” among the fam­i­lies with a higher risk of pro­duc­ing mal­formed ba­bies. Plenty of doc­u­men­taries com­pete ev­ery year for the ti­tle of “grim as fuck”; this year, After The Apoc­a­lypse wins it in a walk. NW May 6, 7:15 pm, Cum­ber­land 3; May 7, 7 pm, Innis.







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