The National Film Board of Canada’s leadership in documentary cinema will be showcased at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, North America’s largest documentary festival, taking place April 26 to May 6 in Toronto.
Hot Docs has selected five NFB films for its 2012 edition, hosting world premieres of Who Cares? (NFB), directed by Rosie Dransfeld; Petra’s Poem (Shira Avni|NFB), directed by Shira Avni; and Legend of a Warrior (NFB|Corkscrew Media|enriquePoe Moving Pictures), directed by Corey Lee. The festival will also screen the Toronto premieres of The Boxing Girls of Kabul (NFB), directed by Ariel Nasr, and The Mystery of Mazo de la Roche (Red Queen Productions|NFB), directed by Maya Gallus.
The NFB and Hot Docs will also present an Outstanding Achievement Award Retrospective for Quebec film pioneer Michel Brault, as well as a Focus On screening series honouring four-time Emmy Award winner John Kastner.
NFB world premieres
The festival’s Canadian Spectrum program will feature three NFB world premieres:
Rosie Dransfeld’s Who Cares? takes us into Edmonton’s rough Norwood neighbourhood, home to a dangerous, shadowy world where prostitutes risk their lives working the streets. So many of these women have disappeared or been murdered that RCMP homicide investigators from Project Kare are now talking to prostitutes and collecting their DNA samples so that they can be identified in the event of a homicide. This blunt, cinéma-vérité film drives home the vulnerability of street prostitutes (whom the law penalizes more severely than their clients), humanizing a largely invisible struggle that occurs on the margins of every Canadian city. Rosie Dransfeld’s previous documentary Broke was featured at Hot Docs in 2009. Who Cares? is produced by Bonnie Thompson.
In the visually compelling short Petra’s Poem, Toronto artist Petra Tolley performs her soliloquy about what it feels like to be “in the middle.” Petra has Down syndrome, and draws from her emotional experiences to produce a distinctive take on the social self. But Petra is not alone—a group of adults with Down syndrome use performance to explore the dynamics of seclusion, societal expectations and social support. Director Shira Avni employs rotoscopy, hand-drawn animation techniques and subtle stereoscopic 3D, capturing Petra as she engages the camera with unflinching directness. Petra’s Poem is produced by Shira Avni and Michael Fukushima.
Legend of a Warrior follows Corey Lee’s efforts to reconnect with his father, martial arts legend Frank Lee. For his many students and fans, Frank is martial arts—a high-kicking dynamo whose style of full contact fighting has propelled him into the upper echelons of his profession. Frank is happy to play the role he’s cultivated, but his son, filmmaker Corey Lee, wants to look beneath the superhero mask. To do this Corey must enter Frank’s world, a world where fighting rules. Legend of a Warrior is produced by Bonnie Thompson for the NFB, Susan Bristow for Corkscrew Media and Corey Lee for enriquePoe Moving Pictures.
Canadian Spectrum will also host two Toronto premieres of NFB docs:
In Ariel Nasr’s The Boxing Girls of Kabul, young Afghan women hone their boxing skills without the benefit of even the most basic facilities in the country’s national stadium—where only recently women were executed by the Taliban. They are loyal to their nation, yet dare to defy its traditions. Inspired by their tenacious coach, these courageous boxers risk persecution and openly dream of their future, even a shot at the 2012 Olympics. This compelling film intimately shadows their journey, one of both personal and political transformation. The Boxing Girls of Kabul is produced by Annette Clarke.
In The Mystery of Mazo de la Roche, director Maya Gallus reveals the enigmatic life of Canada’s most famous unknown author. Mazo de la Roche was one of the most successful and prolific women writers of the 20th century and remains one of Canada’s bestselling authors, with 11 million copies of her novel Jalna sold in 93 languages. But her private life was a mystery, for de la Roche was a fabulist in the grandest sense: she and her lifelong companion, Caroline Clement—Mazo’s “adopted sister,” cousin and muse—constructed public personas that protected their hidden lives. Gallus’s documentary Dish: Women, Waitressing & the Art of Service was featured at Hot Docs in 2010. The Mystery of Mazo de la Roche is produced by Maya Gallus and Justine Pimlott for Red Queen Productions and Anita Lee for the NFB.
From May 1 through May 3, the NFB will be presenting Doc Talks, a series of conversations giving doc lovers access to leading filmmakers. Now in its second season, Doc Talks will take place daily from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Bell Lightbox 4. Tickets are free.
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