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#HotDocs14: Eighth Batch of Reviews

May 1, 2014

By John Corrado

Hot Docs Poster

As we find ourselves exactly a week into Hot Docs, it’s time for my eighth batch of capsule reviews.

Last time I put up reviews of 112 Weddings, The Immortalists, Meet the Patels and Sleepless in New York.  Below are my thoughts on another four films, including two that deal with issues of mental illness, along with Rich Hill which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

Please come back tomorrow and over the final weekend for three more sets of capsule reviews, and you can continue following on Twitter for brief thoughts on what I’ve been seeing.  As always, you can get more information on Hot Docs and purchase tickets right here.  Enjoy!

Out of Mind, Out of Sight: A year after bringing NCR: Not Criminally Responsible to the festival, director John Kastner returns to the Brockville Mental Health Centre in Out of Mind, Out of Sight.  Gaining unprecedented access to the forensic psychiatric hospital, we follow two men and two women who are being treated at the facility for histories of severe violence and even murder.  Among them is Michael, a man suffering from schizophrenia who wants to rejoin society, but is still haunted by his disturbing past.  The overblown orchestral score sometimes makes the images feel exploitive, and by virtue of telling so many different stories, the film feels unfocused in terms of narrative.  But Out of Mind, Out of Sight is still a thought provoking and expectedly disturbing look at severe mental illness, and a revealing glimpse inside the walls of this rarely seen facility.

Sunday, April 27th – 6:30 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Wednesday, April 30th – 1:30 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Sunday, May 4th – 1:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

I’ve Seen the Unicorn: Every year, the residents of the independent nation of Mauritius, a small island on the Indian Ocean that used to be ruled by the British Empire, gather for the historic horserace known as the Maiden Cup.  Directed by Vincent Toi, I’ve Seen the Unicorn loosely follows a young adolescent fisherman who dreams of racing horses, along with the jockeys, gamblers and stable owners whose lives revolve around the Maiden Cup.  Although the film sometimes drags despite only running for about an hour, this is still a pretty good and vibrantly filmed look at the culture and history of this small island that takes horse racing very seriously.

Sunday, April 27th – 8:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Monday, April 28th – 12:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
Friday, May 2nd – 4:30 PM @ ROM Theatre

Rich Hill: Andrew is very close to his family, but lives with the stress of constantly moving because of his father’s job, and a mother who rarely leaves the house.  Harley is living with his grandma while his mother is in jail, and Appachey has severe behavioural issues that are aggravated by his often volatile household.  All three boys hail from the small Missouri town of Rich Hill, quietly coming of age against a backdrop of extreme poverty.  Although not much happens in a classic narrative sense, Rich Hill is always beautifully shot, as filmmaking cousins Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos follow the three young teenagers through a vérité lens.  This is an honest and often very sad observational portrait of poverty and youth in small town America, that allows for some starkly touching scenes.

Monday, April 28th – 7:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Wednesday, April 30th – 4:00 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Sunday, May 4th – 12:30 PM @ Hart House Theatre

The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest: After being sentenced to four years in prison for minor theft at the age of nineteen, Mark DeFriest promptly escaped from the state facility, before being recaptured.  This started a vicious cycle of elaborate escapes from increasingly higher security prisons, including building makeshift pistols and copying keys, each time causing more years to be added to his sentence.  But this much time behind bars seems cruel compared to the initial charges, especially considering that Mark DeFriest doesn’t pose a danger to society and was perhaps never fit to serve trial in the first place, being reevaluated for symptoms of mania and paranoia.  Director Gabriel London has put together an often exciting and also affecting film with The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest.  Through interviews that delve deep into the subject, edited together with flashbacks that are recreated through stylized animation, this is a fascinating and stylishly entertaining psychological study of the infamous jail breaker.

Wednesday, April 30th – 7:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Thursday, May 1st – 12:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Friday, May 2nd – 10:00 PM @ Royal Cinema

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