HotDocs!

5 05 2011

This year, I finally did something I have never done before: I got around to buying tickets for movies in the HotDocs documentary film festival. Usually, by the time I think of it, all the good shows are sold out.

I bought three tickets, so I got to see five movies (three long ones, two short ones). Here’s what I saw:

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop: when Conan O’Brien left the Tonight Show, he was legally barred from appearing on television for six months. During his enforced sabbatical, he went on tour: something like 44 cities. It was great fun, but I got tired just watching it: even the most compulsive extrovert would get a little weary following an endless series of shows, meet-and-greets, and so on. Two things I realized: Conan is a compulsive performer – he created shows for himself on his days off – and I never want to wait around after a show to meet a celebrity or have him sign something, as so many people want to do this, and it’s so tiring for the star.

Tuned In: a short film about a man who lives out in the desert and listens to (and records) sounds that the earth itself makes. Really fascinating, with double bonus points for the desert footage. Someday, I might move to the desert and become an eccentric hermit.

Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then: This is about a man whose wife became gravely ill, so he built extensions on his house in an attempt to create a miracle and thus save her. The film is shot in a style that reminded me of surrealistic paintings. Not everyone’s cup of tea – at least half a dozen people walked out – and it lasted a bit longer than I would have liked, but the images and the story were like brain candy to me.

Set Backs – a very short film, shot as stop-motion animation, about two alcoholic sisters who get into a serious argument. It has a happy ending; they’ve both stopped drinking. I was impressed by this movie.

Inside Lara Roxx: the story of a Quebec-born woman who went to California to make money as a porn star and wound up infected with HIV. The movie traces what happened to her in the years since her diagnosis. Honest and unflinching – amazing.

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