I just spent a couple of weeks working at the HotDocs Film Festival. I got to meet and hang out with some directors and producers, moderated presentations at high schools and even cut tickets, counted ballots and ushered at theatre screenings. It was very hectic and I've taken a couple of days to unwind. During the 10 days of screenings I watched about 20 documentaries. Some that I remember:
Girls Rock - A week spent in Oregon at a rock camp for girls 8-18. It goes beyond the music and touches on issues of gender and empowerment. A charming cast of quirky girls win you over as they learn to rock.
Super Amigos - Directed by Arturo Perez Torres and probably my favourite film of the festival even before I realized that I knew the producer. Five guys in Mexico City dress in Lucha Libre costumes and fight for their respective social justice issues. It made me want to don a mask and suplex a cause of my own.
City Idol - This is the second film by Torres and Heather Haynes at this year's festival. Canadian Idol is for people who look at rock stars and say, "I wanna do that!" City Idol is the opposite. It's for people who look at politicians and say, "What the hell are they doing?". A candidate is chosen to run for office from a contestant pool of dedicated and committed citizens.
Manufacturing Dissent - I spent some time with Debbie Melnyk who made this film with Rick Caine. It exposes the liberties that Michael Moore takes with the truth in his documentaries. She affirms that she is a leftist who really admired Moore until she uncovered some of Moore's distasteful tactics.
Kike Like Me - Jamie Kastner walks around "civilized" European cities asking questions about Jews while coyly not answering whether or not he is himself Jewish. The merits of this film was hotly debated in the lobby by viewers from the Jewish community.
Lovable - Alan Zweig explores why it's so hard to find love in the middle years. He interviews several single women and commiserates with them.
King Corn - Two guys move to Iowa, rent an acre of land and farm corn for one season. They are left to mostly oversee an easy automated process and end up with corn that cannot even be eaten until it is processed in a factory and turned mostly into high fructose corn syrup.
Last Call at the Gladstone - An historic Toronto flophouse is transformed into a hipster artsy hangout displacing the long-time residents. This seemed to be the crowd favourite.