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Hot Docs 2013: Five Capsule Reviews, including “When I Walk”

April 28, 2013

By John C.

Hot Docs 2013 PosterWe are now at the end of the first weekend of the 20th edition of Hot Docs, and the festival has been going strong over the last few days.  I’ve already seen a lot of excellent films, and yesterday I published my thoughts on 15 Reasons to Live, Good Ol’ Freda, The Defector: Escape from North Korea, Trucker and the Fox and Bending Steel.

Below are my reviews of five more films that I have seen over the past few days, and just like yesterday these ones are all recommended in their own right.  My next set of five will be coming tomorrow, and you can get more information on the festival and purchase tickets right here.  Enjoy!

Terms and Conditions May Apply:  The title of Terms and Conditions May Apply is a warning that we have all seen multiple times on the websites we visit, but director Cullen Hoback uses them to take a critical look at what these seemingly simple words really mean.  Hidden within the fine print lies an agreement that many sites have to share personal information with third parties, including the FBI.  Facebook and Google are some of the biggest offenders, but the flipside to having this much information readily available is that the government can use it to divert potentially dangerous situations, something that many condemn under the rights of free speech.  Perhaps the bigger question we should be asking is how do we know who to trust in a world where we know practically everything?  The interviews are nicely edited together into a fairly entertaining package, and Terms and Conditions May Apply is an interesting exposé about the meaning of privacy in an age of information where everything is openly shared.

Friday, April 26th – 1:30 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Sunday, April 28th – 6:00 PM @ Hart House Theatre

Friday, May 3rd – 2:00 PM @ Hart House Theatre

When I Walk:  Jason DaSilva was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when his legs literally gave out from underneath him on a family vacation, drastically changing his career as a promising young filmmaker who made his living travelling the world.  Going behind the camera to capture his journey of adapting to a new life, When I Walk is a deeply personal portrait and time capsule of his life as his condition gets increasingly more severe.  There are many shots of him struggling to complete the project, which makes the experience of watching it all the more powerful.  Jason DaSilva has struggled, but he is still alive, which adds a level of genuine inspiration to the story.  From the first shot to the bittersweet final scene, When I Walk is an immensely powerful film, a movingly beautiful documentary that follows a young filmmaker’s journey into and life with a disability.

Friday, April 26th – 9:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Saturday, April 27th – 2:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Saturday, May 4th – 1:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Valentine Road:  Back in 2008, Lawrence “Larry” King was just starting to come into his own as a transgendered teenage boy, when he was murdered by his 14-year-old classmate after asking him to be his Valentine.  This was a hate crime that shocked people around the world, sparking a debate and legal battle about whether the killer should be treated as a child, or rightfully brought to justice for his serious crime.  Directed by Marta Cunningham, Valentine Road admirably delves deep into the case, letting the tears flow freely while never underplaying the complicated nature of this tragedy.  The people who find bizarre reasons to justify this disgusting crime will make you physically angry, but it’s a brave move for the director to show them.  This is a heartbreaking, disturbing and vitally important film about the need for widespread acceptance of sexuality and gender identity, something that we will hopefully get in the near future.  Prepare for an emotional ride, because Valentine Road is essential viewing.

Saturday, April 27th – 4:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Sunday, April 28th – 9:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Saturday, May 4th – 8:00 PM @ Hart House Theatre

Downloaded:  When Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning first launched Napster back in the days when the internet was still surprisingly unconnected, their dream was to create an online community where music lovers could connect.  The site used file sharing technology to build a veritable online library of music accessible by any computer, but they ended up bringing down the recording industry in the process, with the free downloads taking away money from the artists.  Director Alex Winter, better known on camera as the first half of the title duo in the 1989 cult classic Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, has done an impressive job of capturing revealing interviews with practically everyone involved.  Although the film is a little long at 107 minutes, those interested in the subject will appreciate the amount of information that is shared.  Regardless of whether or not you agree with illegal downloading, Downloaded is an interesting look at the rise and fall of Napster, and how the music industry fought back.

Saturday, April 27th – 9:00 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Sunday, April 28th – 3:30 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre

Friday, May 3rd – 9:30 PM @ The Fox Theatre

Maidentrip:  When she was just 14-years-old, Laura Dekker set out from her home in Holland to begin a two year journey aboard a boat, with a goal of becoming the youngest person to ever sail around the world on their own.  Directed by Jillian Schlesinger and edited together with footage that Laura Dekker captured throughout her journey, the cinematography in Maidentrip is consistently breathtaking, as we are put on the boat and sent out into the middle of the ocean.  The way that Laura opens up to the camera as she lives on her own is fascinating to watch, as this teen girl physically and emotionally comes of age throughout her voyage.  Playing as a genuine crowdpleaser, Maidentrip is a beautifully filmed and inspirational documentary about persevering to follow your dreams, with a fascinating subject at its heart.  This truly is a fantastic journey.

Sunday, April 28th – 6:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Tuesday, April 30th – 1:30 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre

Sunday, May 5th – 7:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2013 1:58 pm

    How can I get to see Maidentrip? I live in Sturgeon Bay, WI and I would not mind downloading the movie to my computer (just like Youtube.


    • October 26, 2013 1:14 pm

      Not sure at the moment, but I would recommend keeping up to date with the film’s official website right here, to see if any more information pops up. Some of these documentaries become available on demand or premiere on TV, and I’ve been hoping for a while that Maidentrip finds an audience.

      Sorry I don’t have more info, but I do hope you find a way to see the film!

      -John C.


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