Wednesday, July 8, 2009

HotDocs in Toronto & Silverdocs in MD/DC

HotDocs Film Festival in Toronto:
the one thing i was most surprised about HotDocs was actually the city of Toronto itself. having spent a significant amout of time in Toronto in my youth, i was not completely new to the city, but Toronto has become a great town. the amount of support and interest in indie films and docs that the people of Toronto showed was also amazing. LOTS of people came out to see EVERYTHING. also, since the town has so many theaters, the festival was able to place screenings and parties in many different neighborhoods, which really forced me to experience different neighborhoods and the GREAT food in each. ill be back!

Standout films I saw:
• When We Were Boys [beautiful window into life in a wealthy boy's private school]
• Winnebago Man [hilarious. look it up.]
• Bitch Academy [short doc on russian girls who take a class on how to seduce rich men. surprisingly sweet.]
• Burma VJ [incredible story of covert burmese citizen journalists during the recent burmese uprising]
• The Wild Hearts [drunken naked wasted rock n roll boys from copenhagen go on a road trip]
• Art & Copy [doug pray's great film about the advertising industry]
• Necrobusiness [unbelieveable gangster morticians in poland.]
• Carmen Meets Borat [the quick appearance & departure of Borat turns a town upside down. an incredible window into life in a small romanian town.]

i overheard one canadian filmmaker talking about funding. American: "You guys are so lucky as Canadian filmmakers to have such great financial support from your govt." Canadian: "Youre right, but somehow i think that makes us have the ability to put out so many mediocre films." hmmm.... food for thought.

For the most part, i thought the programming at HotDocs was great, but I was sorely disappointed by the few "HotDocs Talks" i attended. maybe it was the topics, maybe the moderator, maybe it was the speakers, but either way, they were for the most part uninspiring, and didnt really yield much info other than superficial discussions of films. you guys really need to check out Silverdocs' sessions and panels.

outside of that i had a great time!

Silverdocs Film Festival in Silver Spring, MD:

As usual, a great festival experience, and a great learning experience. This fest just gets better every year. Congrats Sky!

Standout films I saw:
• Soul Power [absolutely amazing doc about the musical entertainment part of the "Rumble in the Jungle" fight]
• Supermen Of Malegaon [making of a low-budget Bollywood film. SO funny!]
• Hunting Down Memory [incredible amnesia story]
• More Than A Game [incredible story of Lebron James & crew, from the beginning]
• The Nine Lives Of Marion Barry [i learned a lot about the man that i did not know. mayor for life.]

Outside of the great lineup of films themselves, and the panels, Silverdocs really outdid themselves with special guests this year. Wale played a nice set at the opening night party following the screening of More Than A Game, attended by Lebron James and his crew. Im not sure many folks attending even knew who Wale was. shame... Also, funk legend Fred Wesley of the James Brown Horns spoke and performed a bit after Soul Power (which blew my mind!), and Marion Barry attended his screening as well as the after party at Jackies featuring a full set by DC gogo legends Trouble Funk! WOW!