Hot Docs at Vancity Theatre
By Adam Cook
Founded in 1993 in Toronto, Hot Docs is the largest documentary film festival in North America. Over the years it has earned a reputation for having the most eclectic and high quality range of documentaries at any film festival. We’re lucky to have a small slice of their selection from the most recent edition this past May to present here at Vancity Theatre in our Bell Media Best of Hot Docs 2016 program. Consisting of five films from around the world, the subjects of this series run the gamut from true crime, environmentalist, animal rights, the dangerous pitfalls of the internet, to…tickling.
Lo and Behold Reveries of the Connected World is the latest eccentric work from idiosyncratic pop culture icon Werner Herzog who investigates the origins of the internet and traces it to the present and the future where various threats inherent in the potential of this technology, some less obvious than others, are explored, such as online harassment, internet addiction, lapses in security and the rise of A.I. Philosophical, bold, and undercut with Herzog’s signature and singular sense of humour, this is one of 2016’s must see docs.
One of the biggest critical hits at Sundance and Hot Docs is the curious film, Tickled, which is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. What begins as investigative journalism when David Farrier starts working on a story about a bizarre phenomenon known as “Competitive Endurance Tickling” leads him on a trail to the disturbing company behind it that is exploiting participants. Farrier himself becomes tangled in this web as the doc shifts from silly to scary in unexpected ways.
Unlocking the Cage looks at how intelligent animals such as chimps, and dolphins are challenging our conception of animal rights. Sour Grapes profiles an elaborate con in the world of wine connoisseurs. Spaceship Earth turns to some of our greatest thinkers to reveal the true impact of humanity on our planet, and the transience of its existence.
This disparate assortment of movies is a testament to the infinite applications of documentary storytelling and to Hot Docs’ commitment to sharing it with Canadians. Just last month, Hot Docs announced that it was receiving a $5 million gift from the Rogers Foundation, and has renamed its year-round cinema the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. This exciting news affirms the growth and impact that this institution continues to have and ensures that the doors of this 103-year-old theatre (the world’s only free-standing documentary movie cinema!) stay open for years to come.