Author: Andrew Parker

Hot Docs 2017 Review: Step

Amanda Lipitz’s rousing documentary Step takes viewers inside the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women’s step dance club: a band of teens heading into their senior year of high school after founding the school’s first ever step club back in the sixth grade. Coming off a year where the squad didn’t earn victories, and caught up with the personal stresses of figuring out their next steps in life, these young women are determined to go out banging and stomping their way to a championship. I’ve never seen an audience react to a documentary like the audience I watched Step...

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Hot Docs 2017 Q&A: Unarmed Verses filmmaker Charles Officer

Filmmaker Charles Officer is no stranger to films dealing with major issues of relevance to the City of Toronto, and to Canada on the whole, but his documentary Unarmed Verses, which made its world premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival this week, might be his most his most timely and relevant work to date, one that hopefully acts as a wake up and call to arms to protect the most vulnerable people in marginalized neighbourhoods amid an unprecedented and skyrocketing housing boom. Unarmed Verses looks at the endangered community of Villaways through the eyes of 12-year...

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Hot Docs 2017 Q&A: Maison du Bonheur filmmaker Sofia Bohdanowicz

For her unique, personal, and warm-hearted documentary Maison du Bonheur (which screens in Toronto this week at Hot Docs), Canadian filmmaker Sofia Bohdanowicz took a brave leap of faith and decided to roll with whatever came her way. Bohdanowicz, who was named the best Emerging Canadian Filmmaker at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2016 for her mid-length feature Never Eat Alone, made the decision to travel to France – a place she previously had less than happy feelings about – to spend time with and film a 77-year old woman she knew very little about and had never...

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Hot Docs 2017 Review: Gilbert

With one of the most recognizable voices and stage presences in all of comedy, performer Gilbert Gottfried has become one of the most respected and divisive comic talents of his time. Between telling sometimes openly offensive, potty-mouthed jokes on stage (and becoming the reason people say “too soon” whenever someone makes a crack at the expense of a tragedy), appearing in films and on television, his wide array of voice work, Gottfried has made a considerable name for himself since the 1970s. But like most celebrities, Gottfried is an everyday person like you and me, and he values keeping...

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Hot Docs 2017 Review: Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World

It’s difficult to articulate just how much of American rock, blues, and jazz music was influenced by the original owners of the North American land it was made on, but Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana’s documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World should take a huge step forward in chronicling such a lost history. Through cycles of oppression – all of which were tied to controlling the land around them – the Native American influence on popular culture has been all but suppressed for decades. But sometimes it takes great musicians to educate people about other great musicians...

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Hot Docs 2017 Review: The Force

Filmmaker Peter Nicks was granted nearly free and total access to the inner workings of the embattled Oakland, California police department for two years beginning in November of 2014. The Oakland PD has one of the worst track records for policing in America, and after being embroiled in countless charges of racist activity, incidents of police officers using excessive force, and a prostitution scandal, the department has been under scrutiny by a governmental oversight committee for years. I think the purpose of The Force – one of the best documentaries made about an American police squad – was to...

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Hot Docs 2017 Review: Whitney “Can I Be Me”

British documentarian Nick Broomfield (Kurt & Courtney, Tales of the Grim Sleeper) is no stranger to mounting documentaries about famous or infamous subjects that include shocking, revealing twists, and the unauthorized Whitney “Can I Be Me,” co-directed by music documentarian Rudi Dolezal, looking at the almost unbearably tragic life of late pop icon Whitney Houston, is certainly no exception. Talking mostly to select family members and former employees, with glimpses of major players like her mother Cissy Houston, Arista records honcho Clive Davis, and former spouse Bobby Brown appearing in archival footage, Whitney “Can I Be Me” paints a...

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