Dec 02, 2020
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Hot Docs film festival kicks off today – but possibly without Iranians

TORONTO – It’s a testament to the worldwide scope of the Hot Docs documentary film festival that a handful of Iranian filmmakers may not make it out of their authoritarian country to travel to Toronto for the event.

About a half-dozen filmmakers, the subject of the festival’s Spotlight on Iran segment, are having trouble getting travel visas that will allow them to come to Canada for the 10-day event kicking off Thursday.

“It speaks to the difficulty that people in that part of the world have getting visas to come to the West,” Chris McDonald, executive director of Hot Docs, said Tuesday, adding that hurdles have been put in place by both the Iranian and Canadian governments.

“We’re going day by day at this point, and we don’t know officially if they’ll ever get here. But it’s not uncommon, and we were warned – we went to Iran in the fall and we were told by people at the Canadian Embassy that this was going to be an issue.”

But McDonald says the visa issue has been the only serious headache this year for the 15th annual Hot Docs festival. The event is now widely recognized as one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind, along with the similar Amsterdam documentary fest held each fall.

More than 2,000 films from around the world were submitted to Hot Docs this year, with 174 documentaries chosen from 36 countries. About 40 of those documentaries are from Canadian filmmakers, McDonald says.

Why has Hot Docs become such a rousing success?

“I never underestimate how important it is that Toronto has such great film audiences, and they’ve been packing the cinemas for this festival for years, and filmmakers love that,” he said.

“They love to see a crowded house but they also love the quality of the questions and the comments they get from film-goers and that they know what they’re talking about.”

The proximity to the United States also gives Hot Docs the edge over Amsterdam, as 2,000 delegates from Canada and around the world shop for films, McDonald said.

“A lot of business happens at our festival, and one thing that differentiates us from Amsterdam is there are a lot more North American buyers at our event, and the U.S. is a huge, huge market, obviously. So that makes it attractive for delegates in a different way than Amsterdam is.”

Canadian documentarians with films at Hot Docs this year said they were delighted to be participating.

Nik Sheehan is the director of “Flicker,” a film about 1970s subculture icon Brion Gysin and his invention of a so-called dream machine that helped people to get high without drugs.

“The Hot Docs people have been really good to me,” Sheehan said. “And I was kind of surprised they took it (“Flicker”) because Hot Docs was sort of known for different types of films that delved into social issues and politics, so I wasn’t expecting to get in. But they loved the film and they gave us these terrific venues and times, so I’m really thrilled about that.”

Montreal filmmaker Howard Goldberg’s film about short men, “S&M: Short and Male,” is also at Hot Docs. It’s an eye-opening look at how short men are routinely discriminated against in places as far-flung as sperm banks, corporate boardrooms and pickup bars.

“It’s really important to get your film into Hot Docs, so I submitted it and kept my fingers crossed, and was so happy to hear it got in,” said Goldberg.

“I am excited as a filmmaker in terms of my career, but equally important for me is the cause. If this film gets a lot of attention at Hot Docs, if it gets seen by a lot of people, it could really go a long way to changing the way people treat short-statured men.”

Hot Docs opens with a two-film gala on Thursday night at Toronto’s downtown Winter Garden Theatre – “Anvil! The Story of Anvil,” about the influential Canadian metal band, followed by “Air India 182,” a look at the 1985 terrorist attack.

The short “Green Porno” from Toronto filmmaker Jody Shapiro and actress/director Isabella Rossellini kicks off the night. The film delves into the sex lives of insects.

McDonald says it will be a shame if the Iranian filmmakers don’t make it to the festival to attend screenings of their eight moving documentaries, including “Be Like Others,” a film about the transgendered community in Iran.

“Despite the fact, or perhaps because of the fact, that homosexuality is punished by death in Iran, they have one of the highest per capita rates of transsexualism in the world, and the film follows a number of people who are transgendering, which is, oddly enough, sanctioned by the government,” McDonald says.

“It’s a great film.”

Other films McDonald loves at “Hot Docs” include “Song Sung Blue,” about a husband-and-wife team who are Neil Diamond and Patsy Cline impersonators, and “The English Surgeon,” about a British brain surgeon who volunteers at a decrepit hospital in Kyiv.

Source: The Canadian Press

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Front Page, Industry News

Hot Docs film festival kicks off today – but possibly without Iranians

TORONTO – It’s a testament to the worldwide scope of the Hot Docs documentary film festival that a handful of Iranian filmmakers may not make it out of their authoritarian country to travel to Toronto for the event.

About a half-dozen filmmakers, the subject of the festival’s Spotlight on Iran segment, are having trouble getting travel visas that will allow them to come to Canada for the 10-day event kicking off Thursday.

“It speaks to the difficulty that people in that part of the world have getting visas to come to the West,” Chris McDonald, executive director of Hot Docs, said Tuesday, adding that hurdles have been put in place by both the Iranian and Canadian governments.

“We’re going day by day at this point, and we don’t know officially if they’ll ever get here. But it’s not uncommon, and we were warned – we went to Iran in the fall and we were told by people at the Canadian Embassy that this was going to be an issue.”

But McDonald says the visa issue has been the only serious headache this year for the 15th annual Hot Docs festival. The event is now widely recognized as one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind, along with the similar Amsterdam documentary fest held each fall.

More than 2,000 films from around the world were submitted to Hot Docs this year, with 174 documentaries chosen from 36 countries. About 40 of those documentaries are from Canadian filmmakers, McDonald says.

Why has Hot Docs become such a rousing success?

“I never underestimate how important it is that Toronto has such great film audiences, and they’ve been packing the cinemas for this festival for years, and filmmakers love that,” he said.

“They love to see a crowded house but they also love the quality of the questions and the comments they get from film-goers and that they know what they’re talking about.”

The proximity to the United States also gives Hot Docs the edge over Amsterdam, as 2,000 delegates from Canada and around the world shop for films, McDonald said.

“A lot of business happens at our festival, and one thing that differentiates us from Amsterdam is there are a lot more North American buyers at our event, and the U.S. is a huge, huge market, obviously. So that makes it attractive for delegates in a different way than Amsterdam is.”

Canadian documentarians with films at Hot Docs this year said they were delighted to be participating.

Nik Sheehan is the director of “Flicker,” a film about 1970s subculture icon Brion Gysin and his invention of a so-called dream machine that helped people to get high without drugs.

“The Hot Docs people have been really good to me,” Sheehan said. “And I was kind of surprised they took it (“Flicker”) because Hot Docs was sort of known for different types of films that delved into social issues and politics, so I wasn’t expecting to get in. But they loved the film and they gave us these terrific venues and times, so I’m really thrilled about that.”

Montreal filmmaker Howard Goldberg’s film about short men, “S&M: Short and Male,” is also at Hot Docs. It’s an eye-opening look at how short men are routinely discriminated against in places as far-flung as sperm banks, corporate boardrooms and pickup bars.

“It’s really important to get your film into Hot Docs, so I submitted it and kept my fingers crossed, and was so happy to hear it got in,” said Goldberg.

“I am excited as a filmmaker in terms of my career, but equally important for me is the cause. If this film gets a lot of attention at Hot Docs, if it gets seen by a lot of people, it could really go a long way to changing the way people treat short-statured men.”

Hot Docs opens with a two-film gala on Thursday night at Toronto’s downtown Winter Garden Theatre – “Anvil! The Story of Anvil,” about the influential Canadian metal band, followed by “Air India 182,” a look at the 1985 terrorist attack.

The short “Green Porno” from Toronto filmmaker Jody Shapiro and actress/director Isabella Rossellini kicks off the night. The film delves into the sex lives of insects.

McDonald says it will be a shame if the Iranian filmmakers don’t make it to the festival to attend screenings of their eight moving documentaries, including “Be Like Others,” a film about the transgendered community in Iran.

“Despite the fact, or perhaps because of the fact, that homosexuality is punished by death in Iran, they have one of the highest per capita rates of transsexualism in the world, and the film follows a number of people who are transgendering, which is, oddly enough, sanctioned by the government,” McDonald says.

“It’s a great film.”

Other films McDonald loves at “Hot Docs” include “Song Sung Blue,” about a husband-and-wife team who are Neil Diamond and Patsy Cline impersonators, and “The English Surgeon,” about a British brain surgeon who volunteers at a decrepit hospital in Kyiv.

Source: The Canadian Press

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

Hot Docs film festival kicks off today – but possibly without Iranians

TORONTO – It’s a testament to the worldwide scope of the Hot Docs documentary film festival that a handful of Iranian filmmakers may not make it out of their authoritarian country to travel to Toronto for the event.

About a half-dozen filmmakers, the subject of the festival’s Spotlight on Iran segment, are having trouble getting travel visas that will allow them to come to Canada for the 10-day event kicking off Thursday.

“It speaks to the difficulty that people in that part of the world have getting visas to come to the West,” Chris McDonald, executive director of Hot Docs, said Tuesday, adding that hurdles have been put in place by both the Iranian and Canadian governments.

“We’re going day by day at this point, and we don’t know officially if they’ll ever get here. But it’s not uncommon, and we were warned – we went to Iran in the fall and we were told by people at the Canadian Embassy that this was going to be an issue.”

But McDonald says the visa issue has been the only serious headache this year for the 15th annual Hot Docs festival. The event is now widely recognized as one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind, along with the similar Amsterdam documentary fest held each fall.

More than 2,000 films from around the world were submitted to Hot Docs this year, with 174 documentaries chosen from 36 countries. About 40 of those documentaries are from Canadian filmmakers, McDonald says.

Why has Hot Docs become such a rousing success?

“I never underestimate how important it is that Toronto has such great film audiences, and they’ve been packing the cinemas for this festival for years, and filmmakers love that,” he said.

“They love to see a crowded house but they also love the quality of the questions and the comments they get from film-goers and that they know what they’re talking about.”

The proximity to the United States also gives Hot Docs the edge over Amsterdam, as 2,000 delegates from Canada and around the world shop for films, McDonald said.

“A lot of business happens at our festival, and one thing that differentiates us from Amsterdam is there are a lot more North American buyers at our event, and the U.S. is a huge, huge market, obviously. So that makes it attractive for delegates in a different way than Amsterdam is.”

Canadian documentarians with films at Hot Docs this year said they were delighted to be participating.

Nik Sheehan is the director of “Flicker,” a film about 1970s subculture icon Brion Gysin and his invention of a so-called dream machine that helped people to get high without drugs.

“The Hot Docs people have been really good to me,” Sheehan said. “And I was kind of surprised they took it (“Flicker”) because Hot Docs was sort of known for different types of films that delved into social issues and politics, so I wasn’t expecting to get in. But they loved the film and they gave us these terrific venues and times, so I’m really thrilled about that.”

Montreal filmmaker Howard Goldberg’s film about short men, “S&M: Short and Male,” is also at Hot Docs. It’s an eye-opening look at how short men are routinely discriminated against in places as far-flung as sperm banks, corporate boardrooms and pickup bars.

“It’s really important to get your film into Hot Docs, so I submitted it and kept my fingers crossed, and was so happy to hear it got in,” said Goldberg.

“I am excited as a filmmaker in terms of my career, but equally important for me is the cause. If this film gets a lot of attention at Hot Docs, if it gets seen by a lot of people, it could really go a long way to changing the way people treat short-statured men.”

Hot Docs opens with a two-film gala on Thursday night at Toronto’s downtown Winter Garden Theatre – “Anvil! The Story of Anvil,” about the influential Canadian metal band, followed by “Air India 182,” a look at the 1985 terrorist attack.

The short “Green Porno” from Toronto filmmaker Jody Shapiro and actress/director Isabella Rossellini kicks off the night. The film delves into the sex lives of insects.

McDonald says it will be a shame if the Iranian filmmakers don’t make it to the festival to attend screenings of their eight moving documentaries, including “Be Like Others,” a film about the transgendered community in Iran.

“Despite the fact, or perhaps because of the fact, that homosexuality is punished by death in Iran, they have one of the highest per capita rates of transsexualism in the world, and the film follows a number of people who are transgendering, which is, oddly enough, sanctioned by the government,” McDonald says.

“It’s a great film.”

Other films McDonald loves at “Hot Docs” include “Song Sung Blue,” about a husband-and-wife team who are Neil Diamond and Patsy Cline impersonators, and “The English Surgeon,” about a British brain surgeon who volunteers at a decrepit hospital in Kyiv.

Source: The Canadian Press

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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