Hot Docs to screen Pussy Riot film, 1993's The War Room
Posted: Mar 7, 2013 3:40 PM ET
Last Updated: Mar 7, 2013 3:15 PM ET
Hot Docs, the largest documentary festival in North America, unveiled a lineup of its most high-profile films, including an old political film which made its mark 20 years ago, The War Room.
The Toronto-based festival is turning 20 this year and, as a consequence, will be re-screening the acclaimed political documentary The War Room (1993) — which threw the covers off the Bill Clinton U.S. presidential campaign and featured the antics of spin doctors James Carville and George Stephanopoulos.
Charlotte Cook, Hot Docs director of programming, called the reprise screening “especially meaningful” for the festival. Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker — the first documentarian to win an honorary Oscar — will be on hand for the screening, she added.
Among the 28 films selected for the festival are several world premieres, including Canadian Barry Avrich’s Prepare for the Worst — a portrait of comedy icon David Steinberg — and Gus Holwerda’s The Unbelievers, which follows scientists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss as they spread their message of science over religion.
Some of the award-winning films to screen include Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer (winner of the Sundance world documentary special jury prize), which examines the motivations and lives of the women behind the revolutionary music group that flouted authorities with an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral that landed them in prison. Also showing will be Blood Brother, which captured both the audience award and grand jury documentary trophy at Sundance. It follows American director’s Steve Hoover’s trip to India as he examined a friend’s desire to care for HIV-positive orphans.A film about the members of Pussy Riot, seen staging their infamous protest inside Christ The Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, is a highlight of this year's Hot Docs. (Pussy Riot Group/Reuters)
Another highly-anticipated offering is Who is Dayani Cristal?, which features Mexican film star Gael Garcia Bernal on a journey to find the story behind a Honduran migrant who died in the Arizona desert in 2010. The only distinguishing mark on the decomposing migrant's body is a tattoo that reads "Dayani Cristal."
“In the film you see me retrace his steps,” Bernal wrote in a piece for The Daily Beast, the Newsweek-backed news and opinion website.
“If I am going to understand this man’s journey, I must ride the train. I must try to walk in his shoes. I must listen to those who really know what he went through and why he did it. I wanted both myself and the audience to go on that journey, to speak to those people, listen to their voices and imagine the experience of this man who is no longer here to speak.”
Other films highlighted in this section include:
- Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children (directed by Patrick Reed, Canada): Retired Lt-Gen. Roméo Dallaire travels to four African countries on a mission to end the use of child soldiers.
- High Five: A Suburban Adoption Saga (directed by Julia Ivanova, Canada): A chronicle of the experience of a Canadian couple who adopt five siblings from Ukraine and attempt to forge a family unit.
- Muscle Shoals (directed by Greg Camalier, USA): A film showing musical luminaries such as Aretha Franklin, Bono, Wilson Pickett and Mick Jagger sharing their stories of how the town of Muscle Shoals, Ala., made their careers.
- God Loves Uganda (directed by Roger Ross Williams, USA): A portrait of the battle between human rights groups and the American Evangelical movement, which is promoting an anti-gay campaign in the African country.
- Salma (directed by Kim Longinotto, U.K.): A film about a Tamil woman locked in her home for 25 years, but who manages to achieve success for her poetry illuminating her struggle for independence in a repressive village.
Hot Docs will announces its full slate of films on March 19th. The festival takes place April 25 to May 5 at various locations around Toronto.
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