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Hot Docs adds ‘What would Jesus buy?’

Toronto, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival is pleased to announce the addition of Rob Van Alkemade’s WHAT WOULD JESUS BUY? (USA, 89 min) to its Special Presentations programme at the upcoming 14th annual Festival, April 19-29, 2007.

Produced by Academy Award-nominated director Morgan Spurlock (SUPER SIZE ME), the SXSW hit will receive its international premiere on Tuesday, April 24 at 6:30 pm at the Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor Street West), and will have a repeat screening on Thursday, April 26 at 11:00 pm, also at the Bloor Cinema.

Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir are on a mission to save Christmas from the Shopocalypse: The end of human kind brought on by endless consumerism and over-consumption.

Bill Talen (aka Reverend Billy) was a lost idealist who hitchhiked to New York City only to find that Times Square was becoming a mall. Seeking to put the "odd back in God", one day Bill bought a collar to match his caterer’s jacket and became the Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping. In December 2005, the Church of Stop Shopping decided to face the Christmas season head on, traveling across the country in two bio-diesel buses, headed for temples of commerce, both large and small, to persuade consumers that it is we who are being consumed.

The film takes to the road with Billy and the Church, as they visit with Americans bogged down with shopping problems; citizens with strong points of view on the holidays; outspoken preachers, politicians and theologians; wealthy shoppers and the recently homeless; and other consumer specialists who wax enthusiastically on timely issues such as over consumption, consumer debt, labor rights, local economies and the commercialization of childhood.

These excursions provide a perspective far beyond that of one quixotic crusade. While on the road Billy and the choir begin to find themselves frequently embarrassed, disillusioned, exhausted, at risk of arrest in the super malls, and in mortal danger on the highways. As the end of the season approaches, the calling is renewed when the Church of Stop Shopping takes over a corporate-owned facsimile of Main Street USA on Christmas Day. As a gift, they sweetly sing to the shoppers there until they are surrounded and detained by formidable foes.

Tickets for the April 24 screening of WHAT WOULD JESUS BUY? are $12, and the April 26 screening is pay-what-you-can. Tickets for both screenings, and for all other Festival screenings and events, are available at the CBC Newsworld Advance Box Office, 581 Bloor Street West (1/2 block west of Bathurst), by phone at 416-588-8DOC (8362) or online at www.hotdocs.ca.

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