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#HotDocs14: Sixth Batch of Reviews

April 29, 2014

By John Corrado

Hot Docs Poster

As we reach the halfway point of Hot Docs, welcome to my sixth batch of capsule reviews.  Hopefully you’ve been following along over the past five days, and I will continue to write up everything I’ve been seeing.

Yesterday I shared my thoughts on Mugshot, Hotline, Before the Last Curtain Falls, Super Duper Alice Cooper and Children 404.  Below are my thoughts on four more that I was privileged to screen in advance, including tonight’s Big Ideas presentation, a small gem that should be on your radar and another that could easily emerge as an audience favourite.

Please come back tomorrow and every day during the rest of the festival for even more capsule reviews, and you can follow along on Twitter for thoughts on what I’m seeing.  As usual, you can get more information on Hot Docs and purchase tickets right here.  Enjoy!

The Case Against 8: After gay marriage was legalized in the State of California, voters passed the controversial Proposition 8, revoking the use of the word “marriage” for same sex unions.  But the law was challenged by two fearless couples, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo as well as Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, who enlisted the help of prominent Republican lawyer Ted Olsen to challenge the unconstitutional law.  What followed was a rigorous legal battle that was fought from both sides, before the unjust Prop 8 was finally repealed.  Although the 112 minute running time is lengthy, directors Ben Cotner and Ryan White cover a lot of ground as The Case Against 8 provides a fascinating play by play of events, despite the fact that the hearings themselves were not allowed to be filmed.  This is a powerful and important film that works as both compelling legal procedural and touching human drama.

Tuesday, April 29th – 6:30 PM @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (Scotiabank Big Ideas)
Wednesday, April 30th – 10:30 AM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Mad As Hell: Cenk Uygur is the man behind The Young Turks, the most popular online news show in the world.  But his enigmatic and controversial approach to talking about politics has gained him just as many detractors as fans over the years, starting his career as a staunch Republican before becoming a dedicated Democrat, and going on to criticize Barack Obama.  Director Andrew Napier does an fine job of charting his rise to fame and varying political leanings, but Cenk Uygur clearly seems to have no shame in promoting himself, and Mad As Hell is certainly guilty of that.  For those of us less familiar with his work, the film provides an okay introduction to this interesting media personality, but it’s also preaching to the choir for his passionate supporters.

Tuesday, April 29th – 7:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Wednesday, April 30th – 3:15 PM @ Hart House Theatre
Friday, May 2nd – 4:00 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre

Art and Craft: Mark Landis is an elderly artist who devotes his talents to meticulously copying classic works of art, and then donating them to prolific museums across the United States, under various false identities.  But his work hasn’t fooled Matt Leininger, an art collector from Cincinnati, who is obsessed with exposing his work as fraudulent.  The film weaves together the stories of both men, revealing that Mark Landis has severe mental illness and feels compelled to continue his forgery, despite being repeatedly told to stop.  There is never a dull moment in Art and Craft, and the 88 minute running time literally flies by with a tone that is both tragic and unexpectedly hilarious, just like the fascinatingly flawed subject himself.  This is a compelling and wildly entertaining portrait of a true character, that questions if the work of a forger should be considered real art.

Tuesday, April 29th – 9:00 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre
Wednesday, April 30th – 11:59 PM @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Saturday, May 3rd – 4:00 PM @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Sunday, May 4th – 11:00 AM @ Revue Cinema

Advanced Style: Photographer Ari Seth Chen is the creator of Advanced Style, a popular blog that profiles women over sixty who express themselves through fashion, growing old gracefully and unafraid of standing out in New York.  Directed by Lina Plioplyte, Advanced Style profiles seven of the elderly women who were featured in the book of the same name, sharing their stories and providing a showcase for their elaborate outfits.  These ladies are charming and often delightful to watch, but there is also a sense of poignancy to the final few scenes.  With appropriately glossy camerawork, the film serves to challenge our perceptions of aging, and what the fashion industry considers true beauty.  At just 72 minutes, Advanced Style is short and sweet, an inspiring and ultimately touching little film that could easily become a big hit at the festival.

Tuesday, April 29th – 10:00 PM @ Hart House Theatre
Thursday, May 1st – 1:00 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Saturday, May 3rd – 1:30 PM @ Regent Theatre
Sunday, May 4th – 1:30 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

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