Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Hot Docs: There's Something About the Women...

The Women and the Passenger
Wed, May 1 1:00 PM
Scotiabank 3
Thu, May 2 9:15 PM
Scotiabank 4
Thanks to directors Patricia Correa and Valentina Mac-Pherson, we get to enter a world that some of us would normally not have access to: a tryst motel and the chamber maids who work there. The hotel, El Passajero (The Passenger) is like a lush, aging madam and the extravagantly decorated chambers, her lavish wardrobe that would be elegant if not for their tired excess. The clientele book rooms for illicit affairs as well as romantic couples' retreats, and the hotel offers rooms and menus to meet various budgets, tastes, and needs. As they change sheets and dust the rooms, four chamber maids share insider stories about the patrons and reflections on their own love life and past and present relationships. A young maid talks about meeting her boyfriend, another talks about the prospect of introducing one of the hotel's furniture pieces, a muli-purpose chair, to her husband, while others talk about ex-husbands, and rekindling old loves. None of these maids are judgemental about their clients activities within the rooms, and express sympathy for the lonely ones who come to the hotel; after all, they've seen it all through the dirty dishes and sheets, and heard it all through the doors. Watching The Women and the Passenger is like peeking through a black lace veil into a fascinating diorama filled with explosive colour, moving figures, moments of contemplation, and the amusing sounds of lust.

The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne
Wed, May 1 1:30 PM
Scotiabank 4
There's something about Doris: she's fabulous, chic, a consummate liar, and a no holds barred jewel thief (the press didn't call her "Diamond Doris" for nothing!). In The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, we learn from Doris that her introduction into stealing jewels was in reaction to the racism she endured as a dirt poor black child, whose father was abusive to her mother. Fearing for her mother's safety and armed with a "take that" attitude towards whitey, Doris stole some jewellery and rescued her mother.  Realizing that she was good at her new occupation, Doris, who had always played a childhood game called Miss Lady, took her show on the road and travelled the world stealing diamonds the likes of which often graced the pages of luxury magazines such as her favourite, Town & Country. Tall, tanned (she's part Black, part Cherokee), and lovely, Doris found her "lady-like" mannerisms could get her into the same high-end, European jewellery salons as white women. She looked like a society woman, so she was accepted as one. In Europe, manners were paramount, where in the United States, black is black no matter how ladylike you actually were or pretended to be. According to Doris, she doesn't "steal" she just "doesn't give things back". Whatever you may think of Doris, you will find her fascinating. A woman, who is now in her eighties and accused of stealing, what else, jewellery, Doris was a woman who in the 50's, and 60's, was her own human rights trailblazer. She did it on the wrong side of the law, but she did it: not even jail stopped her, as she lively recounts to directors (Matthew Pond, Kirk Marcolina). As a screenwriter in the film says, Doris is "the protagonist and antagonist" of her own life, while another references the fact that Doris' halo sits on top of her horns. What a woman!

Good Ol' Freda
Sat, May 4 8:45 PM
The Regent
Don't hate me, but while I like and respect the talents of The Beatles, I'm not passionate about them. I am, however, passionate about Freda Kelly, the subject of Ryan White's documentary, Good Ol' Freda. From typing pool to typing letters as the legendary group's fan club secretary in the 60's, to her current role as law firm secretary, Freda Kelly is a wonderfully, down-to-earth, all-right-let's-get-it-done woman, whose only interest in this film is creating a document for her toddler grandson, Niall. When she's an old granny, sitting in a chair with her cat on her lap, she wants Niall to know that once upon a time she had some excitement in her life. This "DVD" as she calls the film, is now done and she can go back to her life and put those events back in the past. Her modesty, her humour, and her Liverpudlian loyalty to the Fab Four is what kept her working for group since the age of 17 until the group disbanded in the early 70's. She never told stories out of school, and she never will. I enjoyed watching pictures from the era, and hearing about her visits with Beatle mums and dads, and dealing with mad teenagers calling and writing in to get a lock of hair or snippet of shirt fabric from John, Paul, George, and Ringo (or Ritchie, as Freda calls him). This film is about the fans, and Freda was a Beatles fan who, as one person in the doc says, is not a "fanatic". She empathised with the fans that wrote in, and even when she went from 100 letters a day to 8,000 per day, she did her best to get "the boys" to do autographs--over lunch, during a meeting, watching TV, after concerts (whatever it took) . In his film, Ryan White captures for posterity, stories from her contemporaries that paint Freda as a lovely, steadfast woman, living at an exciting point in history for both music and England's youth. Freda's own discussion about her past recounts her love of her local boys, and concludes a part of her life that was exciting while it lasted, but is now past. Goon on ya, Freda.

Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival
April 25 - May 5, 2013

Box Office
Phone number: 416-637-5150
Address: 87 Avenue Road – Hazelton Lanes, Lower Level
Closest Subway: Museum or St. George
11:00 am - 9:00 pm

Individual tickets to regular screenings are $14.60. Tickets to Hot Docs late night screenings are $6.20. Hot Docs ticket prices do not include HST

Students (with valid ID) and seniors (60+) can attend daytime screenings (screenings before 5 pm) for free. Same-day tickets are available at the participating venue one hour before the first screening of the day, subject to availability.

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