Oct 23, 2021
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Front Page, Industry News

Hot Docs 2010: Highlights (Act 1 – Profiles)

TO411 documentary review
by staff writer Daisy Maclean

Fade in on the 2010 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in sunny Toronto this week, as hundreds of movie fans and film industry people gather to celebrate some of the top documentaries completed this year. Although it is often a genre that draws smaller commercial audience than the more popular narrative fiction genre, that is definitely not the case here, as show after show has been sold out at the largest documentary festival in North America.

This is my first time at the festival and I am very excited to be able to bring you a few of the highlights here this week as I attend. This year, there have been a number of strong profile films shown, films that choose to focus on just one person who has made a significant impact on the world, giving us access to their lives, triumphs and fears. We laugh with them, sometimes at them, cry with them and invest our hopes, for a brief time, into their lives. Here are just a few of the profile documentaries not to be missed:

The Woman with the 5 Elephants: Swetlana Geier is 85, and has just completed her new translations for Dostoyevsky’s five great novels. Long considered the greatest translator of Russian literature into German, Geier’s gift of language has a sybaritic quality that turns this documentary into something akin to poetry. Director Vadim Jendreyko, follows Geier as she returns to her home for the first time in the Ukraine, since she left for Germany in world war II. Like the great elephants she translates, Geier is slow moving, magnificent and has a far reach. She is the reason “Crime and Punishment” is not called “Guilt and Atonement.” The film intertwines the journey home and Geier’s personal history with her literary work to create a story of a woman whose love of language transcends all.

Invention of Dr NakaMats: With over three times as many recorded inventions as Thomas Edison, Dr NakaMats is one of the greatest inventors alive today. He is the brain behind the technology for things like the floppy disk, CDs, DVDs, taxicab meters and even karaoke, he holds the Ig Nobel Prize for nutrition, and he is 80 years young. He is also very strange. Determined to live until he is 144, Dr NakaMats definitely lives to the beat of his own drum (which he probably holds the patent to), at one point sending his children back out of the room to try wishing him a happy birthday again, this time the way he wants them to do it. This is a quirky film about an extraordinary and eccentric man that will have you smiling from beginning to end as it follows him in the days leading up to his birthday. As Dr NakaMats was in attendance at the screening, I worried about what he thought of us all laughing at his quirkiness, however I learned that this was not a man easily fooled: while talking to his barber, who is nervous about being filmed, Dr NakaMats reassures him, “They will probably only include the weird part.” 

Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work: The first thing that caught my attention about this film was not its glorious, red carpet walking celebrity, but the film’s directors, Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg. What could these two edgy filmmakers, known for their films on Darfur and Darryl Hunt possibly want with the glitz of Hollywood celebrity? The answer is in the fabric of the film, a documentary that achieves a surprisingly intimate portrait of the woman behind the industry known as Joan Rivers. Peeling away the mask of an icon to reveal the vulnerable woman underneath, the film follows Rivers for a year as she seeks to return to the a-list once again. While the film’s arch is slightly lacking in focus and drama, it matters little, as the larger than life Joan Rivers filled up the screen with her intelligence, wit and vivaciousness. It is sure to be a audience fave wherever it screens.

Daisy Maclean will review recently completed documentaries for TO411 Daily – please contact her for more information: daisy@to411.com. 

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

Front Page, Industry News

Hot Docs 2010: Highlights (Act 1 – Profiles)

TO411 documentary review
by staff writer Daisy Maclean

Fade in on the 2010 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in sunny Toronto this week, as hundreds of movie fans and film industry people gather to celebrate some of the top documentaries completed this year. Although it is often a genre that draws smaller commercial audience than the more popular narrative fiction genre, that is definitely not the case here, as show after show has been sold out at the largest documentary festival in North America.

This is my first time at the festival and I am very excited to be able to bring you a few of the highlights here this week as I attend. This year, there have been a number of strong profile films shown, films that choose to focus on just one person who has made a significant impact on the world, giving us access to their lives, triumphs and fears. We laugh with them, sometimes at them, cry with them and invest our hopes, for a brief time, into their lives. Here are just a few of the profile documentaries not to be missed:

The Woman with the 5 Elephants: Swetlana Geier is 85, and has just completed her new translations for Dostoyevsky’s five great novels. Long considered the greatest translator of Russian literature into German, Geier’s gift of language has a sybaritic quality that turns this documentary into something akin to poetry. Director Vadim Jendreyko, follows Geier as she returns to her home for the first time in the Ukraine, since she left for Germany in world war II. Like the great elephants she translates, Geier is slow moving, magnificent and has a far reach. She is the reason “Crime and Punishment” is not called “Guilt and Atonement.” The film intertwines the journey home and Geier’s personal history with her literary work to create a story of a woman whose love of language transcends all.

Invention of Dr NakaMats: With over three times as many recorded inventions as Thomas Edison, Dr NakaMats is one of the greatest inventors alive today. He is the brain behind the technology for things like the floppy disk, CDs, DVDs, taxicab meters and even karaoke, he holds the Ig Nobel Prize for nutrition, and he is 80 years young. He is also very strange. Determined to live until he is 144, Dr NakaMats definitely lives to the beat of his own drum (which he probably holds the patent to), at one point sending his children back out of the room to try wishing him a happy birthday again, this time the way he wants them to do it. This is a quirky film about an extraordinary and eccentric man that will have you smiling from beginning to end as it follows him in the days leading up to his birthday. As Dr NakaMats was in attendance at the screening, I worried about what he thought of us all laughing at his quirkiness, however I learned that this was not a man easily fooled: while talking to his barber, who is nervous about being filmed, Dr NakaMats reassures him, “They will probably only include the weird part.” 

Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work: The first thing that caught my attention about this film was not its glorious, red carpet walking celebrity, but the film’s directors, Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg. What could these two edgy filmmakers, known for their films on Darfur and Darryl Hunt possibly want with the glitz of Hollywood celebrity? The answer is in the fabric of the film, a documentary that achieves a surprisingly intimate portrait of the woman behind the industry known as Joan Rivers. Peeling away the mask of an icon to reveal the vulnerable woman underneath, the film follows Rivers for a year as she seeks to return to the a-list once again. While the film’s arch is slightly lacking in focus and drama, it matters little, as the larger than life Joan Rivers filled up the screen with her intelligence, wit and vivaciousness. It is sure to be a audience fave wherever it screens.

Daisy Maclean will review recently completed documentaries for TO411 Daily – please contact her for more information: daisy@to411.com. 

Leave a Reply

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

Front Page, Industry News

Hot Docs 2010: Highlights (Act 1 – Profiles)

TO411 documentary review
by staff writer Daisy Maclean

Fade in on the 2010 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in sunny Toronto this week, as hundreds of movie fans and film industry people gather to celebrate some of the top documentaries completed this year. Although it is often a genre that draws smaller commercial audience than the more popular narrative fiction genre, that is definitely not the case here, as show after show has been sold out at the largest documentary festival in North America.

This is my first time at the festival and I am very excited to be able to bring you a few of the highlights here this week as I attend. This year, there have been a number of strong profile films shown, films that choose to focus on just one person who has made a significant impact on the world, giving us access to their lives, triumphs and fears. We laugh with them, sometimes at them, cry with them and invest our hopes, for a brief time, into their lives. Here are just a few of the profile documentaries not to be missed:

The Woman with the 5 Elephants: Swetlana Geier is 85, and has just completed her new translations for Dostoyevsky’s five great novels. Long considered the greatest translator of Russian literature into German, Geier’s gift of language has a sybaritic quality that turns this documentary into something akin to poetry. Director Vadim Jendreyko, follows Geier as she returns to her home for the first time in the Ukraine, since she left for Germany in world war II. Like the great elephants she translates, Geier is slow moving, magnificent and has a far reach. She is the reason “Crime and Punishment” is not called “Guilt and Atonement.” The film intertwines the journey home and Geier’s personal history with her literary work to create a story of a woman whose love of language transcends all.

Invention of Dr NakaMats: With over three times as many recorded inventions as Thomas Edison, Dr NakaMats is one of the greatest inventors alive today. He is the brain behind the technology for things like the floppy disk, CDs, DVDs, taxicab meters and even karaoke, he holds the Ig Nobel Prize for nutrition, and he is 80 years young. He is also very strange. Determined to live until he is 144, Dr NakaMats definitely lives to the beat of his own drum (which he probably holds the patent to), at one point sending his children back out of the room to try wishing him a happy birthday again, this time the way he wants them to do it. This is a quirky film about an extraordinary and eccentric man that will have you smiling from beginning to end as it follows him in the days leading up to his birthday. As Dr NakaMats was in attendance at the screening, I worried about what he thought of us all laughing at his quirkiness, however I learned that this was not a man easily fooled: while talking to his barber, who is nervous about being filmed, Dr NakaMats reassures him, “They will probably only include the weird part.” 

Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work: The first thing that caught my attention about this film was not its glorious, red carpet walking celebrity, but the film’s directors, Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg. What could these two edgy filmmakers, known for their films on Darfur and Darryl Hunt possibly want with the glitz of Hollywood celebrity? The answer is in the fabric of the film, a documentary that achieves a surprisingly intimate portrait of the woman behind the industry known as Joan Rivers. Peeling away the mask of an icon to reveal the vulnerable woman underneath, the film follows Rivers for a year as she seeks to return to the a-list once again. While the film’s arch is slightly lacking in focus and drama, it matters little, as the larger than life Joan Rivers filled up the screen with her intelligence, wit and vivaciousness. It is sure to be a audience fave wherever it screens.

Daisy Maclean will review recently completed documentaries for TO411 Daily – please contact her for more information: daisy@to411.com. 

Leave a Reply

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

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