Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Did You Say Hot Dogs? LOL! No, "Hot Docs" :-)

I love introducing Hot Docs to people. Festival goers are well-familiar with the event, but to many outside the festival world, it may seem like I am saying "hot dogs" instead of "hot docs". I always smile, because I understand how the aural confusion can happen, and because I get to rave about the Canadian International Documentary Festival. Hot Docs is a great place to get your feel wet in the festival circuit because the tickets are relatively affordable and there really is something for everyone. Here are my thought on some of the films I have had a chance to screen:

Mighty Jerome
Fri, Apr 29 9:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
Sat, Apr 30 11:00 AM, Isabel Bader Theatre
Sun, May 8 4:30 PM, The Revue

I had heard of the Canadian World Champion and Olympic sprinter, but I didn't really know much about him besides his medals and the fact that there is an award named after him. I even knew that Fil Fraser had written a book about him, but I didn't dig any deeper. Maybe because I knew that Charles Officer was working on a film and I knew that he was a trusted and talented director. Well, thank you Charles for bringing Harry Jerome's life to the screen. The use of black and white was a wise that prevents the usual jarring movement from archival photos and footage to modern reality. Mighty Jerome is an interesting portrait of an athlete, and a man whose athletic abilities did not make him immune to other issues that many people face: marriage, children, underemployment and health issues. Through Jerome we also see the history of Canada in terms of its treatment of Blacks, interracial marriage, the lack of financial support for Canadian athletes, Canadian pride and the power of the media (positive and negative). Like my other Charles Officer film favourite, Nurse.Fighter.Boy., Mighty Jerome has a wonderful soundtrack (score by Schaun Tozer) that complements the reflections of many of Jerome's friends and family.

Photo: Harry Jerome and his athletic hero, Percy Williams (photo credit: Bill Cunningham) Harry beat one of Percy's longstanding records.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975
Fri, Apr 29 6:30 PM, Bloor Cinema
Mon, May 2 1:00 PM, Cumberland 2
Sat, May 7 9:00 PM, Bloor Cinema

Director, Göran Hugo Olsson, did a fantastic job of compiling documentary footage of the Black Power movement done by Swedish journalists. I had seen documentaries before of the movement, but never footage of Stokely Carmichael taking over the microphone and interviewing his own mother about the hardships the family faced when they moved from Trinidad to the United States. Archivial footage of the reporters, the black power players (Seale, Cleaver, Newton etc) and commentary by such present day figures such as Angela Davis, Talib Kweli, John Forté, and Erykah Badu contextualize the state of a movement that started out as Black and White and then segued into the oppressed vs. the oppressors and the tactics used by the American government to keep the oppressed in their stations. Besides the obvious draw of the documentary's subjects, the fact that the footage was captured by Swedish journalists is another fascinating attraction of the film. I had no idea that the the TV Guide once listed Swedish (and Netherlands) television as "anti-American!"

Photo: Professor/Activist, Angela Davis (in jail) speaks to a Swedish reporter about growing up with White on Black violence and challenges him on what he thinks revolution really means.

More info: hotdocs.ca

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can I get my Hot Docs with relish please.