Oct 17, 2021
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Front Page, Industry News

Hot Docs Wrap (Act 3 – Against the Odds)

TO411 documentary review
by staff writer Daisy Maclean

The 2010 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival ended with a weekend full of awards presentations to the top films and film makers this year. Many of these awards come with cash prizes that help both seasoned and emerging filmmakers continue to create the work that moves us. Among the films honoured this year were two unique films that were in the top ten audience favourites at the festival: Waste Land and Leave Them Laughing. The latter also won the Special Jury prize for Canadian Feature. Poignant and courageous these two films focus on the smaller everyday battles we wage against the hand that life has dealt us. 

Leave Them Laughing: Oscar award winning Canadian documentary director John Zaritsky takes us on a 90-minute journey into the life and oncoming death of Carla Zilbersmith. Once a vibrant performer, Carla has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and given two years left to live, however she is determined to suck every last drop of pleasure from life before she has to go. “‘Dead is the new alive.’ Now I know what you’re thinking: I was just being trendy. But trust me, it won’t be long before all of you start to follow my lead.” If you like dark comedy (as I do), then this is your film, it doesn’t get any darker than this. Created from interviews, footage from her final defiant travels to Mexico, the US and Britain, and flashbacks to her healthier days as a singer and comedian, the film centers around her and her son’s capacity for humour in the face of overwhelming tragedy. Just a year after the diagnosis, Carla’s body has noticeably deteriorated and so she has “Out of Order” tattooed onto her feet. This film isn’t as crushingly depressing as it sounds, nor does Carla pretend that dying is a laugh, instead the film eloquently points out when to cry and when to take things lightly, all the while reminding us to treasure the special days that come our way. Full of moments that are laugh out loud funny as well as those that will have you reaching for the tissue, it is a film that will most likely leave you reeling emotionally, not knowing what to do with yourself afterward. The answer is: live. Leaving behind this glorious film as a memento mori, Carla is currently teaching her parrot, who will outlive her, to say “This woman is dead.”

Waste Land: The day Vik Muniz was shot was the day his life changed. The man who accidentally shot him was wealthy and it was because of this that Muniz was able to go to school to become the world famous artist he is today. In that moment everything changed, and those unusual transformative moments have perhaps become the core behind much of his work. ‘The moment when one thing turns into another is the most beautiful moment.’ Using found objects to create art, Muniz aims to alter our fixed perspectives in order to provide insight to us about the world we inhabit. In this documentary he returns to his native country, Brazil, to create a new body of work out of the world’s largest landfill site, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs a group of “catadores,” those who pick through the trash for recyclable material they can sell, with the intention of recreating the photographs using the very materials the group picks everyday. In the process the catadores themselves are transformed as they reflect on their lives while they help to recreate pictures of themselves out of the garbage. This is a powerful film of heartbreaking beauty, dignity, and pain. Director Lucy Walker does a phenomenal job of relating not only the journey of Muniz himself, but the individual stories of the catadores and the ethical questions surrounding the interference of both the documentary and the art project in the lives of the people who must return to picking garbage when everything is over. It is a film about the environment, the powers of art, and the effect just one person can have and the social responsibility that belongs to all of us. I left the cinema just a little bit transformed.

Fade Out.

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 Wrap (Act 3 – Against the Odds)

TO411 documentary review
by staff writer Daisy Maclean

The 2010 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival ended with a weekend full of awards presentations to the top films and film makers this year. Many of these awards come with cash prizes that help both seasoned and emerging filmmakers continue to create the work that moves us. Among the films honoured this year were two unique films that were in the top ten audience favourites at the festival: Waste Land and Leave Them Laughing. The latter also won the Special Jury prize for Canadian Feature. Poignant and courageous these two films focus on the smaller everyday battles we wage against the hand that life has dealt us. 

Leave Them Laughing: Oscar award winning Canadian documentary director John Zaritsky takes us on a 90-minute journey into the life and oncoming death of Carla Zilbersmith. Once a vibrant performer, Carla has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and given two years left to live, however she is determined to suck every last drop of pleasure from life before she has to go. “‘Dead is the new alive.’ Now I know what you’re thinking: I was just being trendy. But trust me, it won’t be long before all of you start to follow my lead.” If you like dark comedy (as I do), then this is your film, it doesn’t get any darker than this. Created from interviews, footage from her final defiant travels to Mexico, the US and Britain, and flashbacks to her healthier days as a singer and comedian, the film centers around her and her son’s capacity for humour in the face of overwhelming tragedy. Just a year after the diagnosis, Carla’s body has noticeably deteriorated and so she has “Out of Order” tattooed onto her feet. This film isn’t as crushingly depressing as it sounds, nor does Carla pretend that dying is a laugh, instead the film eloquently points out when to cry and when to take things lightly, all the while reminding us to treasure the special days that come our way. Full of moments that are laugh out loud funny as well as those that will have you reaching for the tissue, it is a film that will most likely leave you reeling emotionally, not knowing what to do with yourself afterward. The answer is: live. Leaving behind this glorious film as a memento mori, Carla is currently teaching her parrot, who will outlive her, to say “This woman is dead.”

Waste Land: The day Vik Muniz was shot was the day his life changed. The man who accidentally shot him was wealthy and it was because of this that Muniz was able to go to school to become the world famous artist he is today. In that moment everything changed, and those unusual transformative moments have perhaps become the core behind much of his work. ‘The moment when one thing turns into another is the most beautiful moment.’ Using found objects to create art, Muniz aims to alter our fixed perspectives in order to provide insight to us about the world we inhabit. In this documentary he returns to his native country, Brazil, to create a new body of work out of the world’s largest landfill site, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs a group of “catadores,” those who pick through the trash for recyclable material they can sell, with the intention of recreating the photographs using the very materials the group picks everyday. In the process the catadores themselves are transformed as they reflect on their lives while they help to recreate pictures of themselves out of the garbage. This is a powerful film of heartbreaking beauty, dignity, and pain. Director Lucy Walker does a phenomenal job of relating not only the journey of Muniz himself, but the individual stories of the catadores and the ethical questions surrounding the interference of both the documentary and the art project in the lives of the people who must return to picking garbage when everything is over. It is a film about the environment, the powers of art, and the effect just one person can have and the social responsibility that belongs to all of us. I left the cinema just a little bit transformed.

Fade Out.

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 Wrap (Act 3 – Against the Odds)

TO411 documentary review
by staff writer Daisy Maclean

The 2010 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival ended with a weekend full of awards presentations to the top films and film makers this year. Many of these awards come with cash prizes that help both seasoned and emerging filmmakers continue to create the work that moves us. Among the films honoured this year were two unique films that were in the top ten audience favourites at the festival: Waste Land and Leave Them Laughing. The latter also won the Special Jury prize for Canadian Feature. Poignant and courageous these two films focus on the smaller everyday battles we wage against the hand that life has dealt us. 

Leave Them Laughing: Oscar award winning Canadian documentary director John Zaritsky takes us on a 90-minute journey into the life and oncoming death of Carla Zilbersmith. Once a vibrant performer, Carla has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and given two years left to live, however she is determined to suck every last drop of pleasure from life before she has to go. “‘Dead is the new alive.’ Now I know what you’re thinking: I was just being trendy. But trust me, it won’t be long before all of you start to follow my lead.” If you like dark comedy (as I do), then this is your film, it doesn’t get any darker than this. Created from interviews, footage from her final defiant travels to Mexico, the US and Britain, and flashbacks to her healthier days as a singer and comedian, the film centers around her and her son’s capacity for humour in the face of overwhelming tragedy. Just a year after the diagnosis, Carla’s body has noticeably deteriorated and so she has “Out of Order” tattooed onto her feet. This film isn’t as crushingly depressing as it sounds, nor does Carla pretend that dying is a laugh, instead the film eloquently points out when to cry and when to take things lightly, all the while reminding us to treasure the special days that come our way. Full of moments that are laugh out loud funny as well as those that will have you reaching for the tissue, it is a film that will most likely leave you reeling emotionally, not knowing what to do with yourself afterward. The answer is: live. Leaving behind this glorious film as a memento mori, Carla is currently teaching her parrot, who will outlive her, to say “This woman is dead.”

Waste Land: The day Vik Muniz was shot was the day his life changed. The man who accidentally shot him was wealthy and it was because of this that Muniz was able to go to school to become the world famous artist he is today. In that moment everything changed, and those unusual transformative moments have perhaps become the core behind much of his work. ‘The moment when one thing turns into another is the most beautiful moment.’ Using found objects to create art, Muniz aims to alter our fixed perspectives in order to provide insight to us about the world we inhabit. In this documentary he returns to his native country, Brazil, to create a new body of work out of the world’s largest landfill site, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs a group of “catadores,” those who pick through the trash for recyclable material they can sell, with the intention of recreating the photographs using the very materials the group picks everyday. In the process the catadores themselves are transformed as they reflect on their lives while they help to recreate pictures of themselves out of the garbage. This is a powerful film of heartbreaking beauty, dignity, and pain. Director Lucy Walker does a phenomenal job of relating not only the journey of Muniz himself, but the individual stories of the catadores and the ethical questions surrounding the interference of both the documentary and the art project in the lives of the people who must return to picking garbage when everything is over. It is a film about the environment, the powers of art, and the effect just one person can have and the social responsibility that belongs to all of us. I left the cinema just a little bit transformed.

Fade Out.

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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