Wednesday, 25 April 2012

From Teenagers to Grandmothers at Hot Docs 2012

My Thoughts On...Inocente, Oma and Bella, Not a Car Wash, Wildness, Women with Cows 

Fifteen year-old San Diego artist, Inocente, has an amazing talent. Her works, like the make up she dons daily, is full of vibrant colours, fanciful curves, and infectious joy. Each of her paintings has a story behind them, some of which she shares with us in this documentary. Thanks to a program called A.R.T.S (A Reason To Survive), Inocente's innate talents are being recognized, and as she continues to transfer her dreams to her canvasses, she wins the daily battle against depression and her status as an illegal resident who has never stayed in one place longer than three months.  Go see this film, not to feel sorry for Inocente, but to experience the humour in her work, and to hear her innocent yet mature response to the life. English and Spanish with English subtitles.
Sun, Apr 29 7:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Mon, Apr 30 6:30 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Fri, May 4 11:00 AM
The ROM Theatre

Albania's best known director, Kujtim Çashkuhis students and arts and culture activists fight to keep Marubi Film Academy from being bulldozed by the "authorities". Exactly who these authorities are is a confusing mess in post-communist Albania. Çashku has a writ saying that the police cannot bar the students from the  property, yet the police and the Minister of Culture, Youth, Tourism and Sports claim that they have the right to not only remove the protesters, but also to tear down the outdoor screening area and film school. Ironically, a Human Rights Film Festival was planned on the very site that is being fought over. Çashku was born in Tirana, and was a boy when Kinostudio was built in 1952 and heralded by the communist state as having the best of everything that would shine the light on Albanian arts and culture. When communism fell, so did Kinostudio, and part of that land is where Çashku founded Marubi Academy to train future filmmakers and writers, to host industry visitors from the West, and where residents of Tirana (population 800, 000) would have access to a second cinema. The fight for Marubi is an argument against mediocre television in favour of artistic expression and public space versus private interests and monetary profits from land sales. Albanian with English subtitles.

Tue, May 1 6:30 PM
The ROM Theatre

Thu, May 3 1:30 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

They are going to think we're two "meshuggoim" (crazy women) laugh Regina and Bella as they sing old songs in a river boat in Berlin.  Regina is director Alexa Karolinski's Oma (grandmother); Bella Katz is Regina's best friend, who has moved in with Regina after her hip operation. As these Jewish grandmothers cook, bake and wield disposable razors shaving chicken legs and pigs feet, they respond to Alexa's questions. While Alexa tries to document recipes that are made by intuition rather than measurements, we learn that Bella is a picky eater ("I only eat Jewish food") who was once a wartime guerrilla fighter in Lithuania, that Regina, who can't help but feed her granddaughter ("Alexa, this orange juice is full of vitamins") took up smoking at 14 when the prostitutes in a Polish concentration camp gave her cigarettes to help her stay calm. The personal history of these two women is what takes the documentary beyond the familiar holocaust story: everyone can relate to hearing stories about their grandmothers when they were young, especially when events are revealed that were never spoken about previously.  Regina and Bella are survivors of a horrible moment in time, and while they will never forget the horror, they continually connect to their lost families and culture by preparing the foods that were once cooked in the kitchens of their childhood. The past and present dwell simultaneously in their lives and in this film, recorded by a granddaughter whose work will forward these stories into the future. German with English subtitles.
Sat, Apr 28 6:30 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Mon, Apr 30 4:30 PM
The ROM Theatre 

The Silver Platter narrates this story about its life as a bar and safe community space for MacArthur Park's Latino LGBT residents. Voiced by Miriana Marroquin (who is also a producer of the film), the Silver Platter welcomes viewers, introducing them to her history and the lost "children" who find her when they are ready. In the past, she welcomed straight acting gay men, then M to F trans women, then a mix of queer-straight alliances, four of whom began programming Wildness, a Tuesday night staple of DJ-ing and queer avant-guarde performances that attracted a younger clients. The film is directed by Wu Tsang, one of the four producers of Wildness (along with Asma, Daniel and Ashland). At first, the women were suspicious of "Martes", thinking that Tuesday nights would have no room for them, but eventually they, too, became fans of Wildness, lining up to see queer culture represented in  its infinite varieties. Gentrification looms in the future of the area, but while rents remain cheap, the Platter has birthed children that bicker, love and find safety in community while organizing fights for human rights and dignity. An okay doc, but not exactly memorable once you step out of the theatre.  English and Spanish with English subtitles.
Wed, May 2 9:45 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Thu, May 3 7:00 PM
The ROM Theatre

Sun, May 6 9:00 PM
Seventy-something sisters Brit and Inger have different ideas about what to do with the family dairy farm: Brit wants to keep it; Inger wants to sell it. Through home movies, we see the sisters grow up parented by their father after their mother died in childbirth, and watch them work the family farm. As farm girls, they were used to the demands of the farm, but while Inger got married, moved away and had a family, Brit stayed on the farm with their father (now deceased). Widowed and happy with her grandchildren, Inger tries to persuade Brit that she is too old and infirm to handle the dangers of being around the cows on her own. While she is not in pain, Brit has a broken back and other ailments that have left her severely hunched-backed, and, as tiny as she is, she is no match for the 12 cows that she tries to care for. Inger continues to help out on the farm, grudgingly milking the cows at 4:00 am, but decisions about the farm have to be made. Women with Cows could have been a very interesting short film, about siblings and the future of family farms, but there is not enough material here for a feature. At 93 minutes this documentary is about 60 minutes too long. Swedish with English subtitles.
Sun, Apr 29 9:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Wed, May 2 1:15 PM
Cumberland 2

Sat, May 5 3:45 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Hot Docs
Canadian International Documentary Festival
April 26 - May 6
Tickets: or  416-637-5150
Box Office: 783 Bathurst Street (south of Bloor)

No comments:

1.         Photo courtesy of A BUMP ALONG THE WAY (DISCOVERY) Synopsi s: With her charismatic smile and formida...