The 2015 Rendezvous With Madness lineup is one of the more intense I’ve seen.
There’s a punishing quality to several of this year’s selections, either because of an insistence on psychological realism or because a documentary filmmaker refuses to soften an excruciating moment. That’s the way these movies need to be, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but pretty much every screening merits a trigger warning.
The festival opens with Swift Current (Friday, 7:45 pm, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema; Sunday, 11 am, Workman Theatre), about the efforts of hockey star Sheldon Kennedy – repeatedly molested as a young player by his coach – to work with survivors of similar abuse and advocate for the protection of children. But before he could do that, he had to find a way to put his own life back together, which forms the spine of Joshua Rofé’s documentary.
Shot in a single take, Peter Blackburn’s Eight (Tuesday, 9 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox) is an almost unbearably tense drama about a woman (Libby Munro) trapped inside her home by her own OCD. The single-take aspect of the film is its least impressive virtue; writer/director Blackburn has thought out his story to the tiniest detail, and Munro’s performance is almost painful to watch. You will need air afterwards. I guarantee it.
If you missed My Skinny Sister (November 13, 7 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox) at TIFF in September, catch up to it now. It’s a very strong drama about Swedish tween Stella (Rebecka Josephson), who discovers that her older sister Katja (Amy Deasismont) – a figure skater whom she idolizes – is hiding an eating disorder from her family and her coach.
It’s odd that Of Men And War (November 14, 1 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox, rating: NNNN) should be screening at the end of the festival, since it’ll have been playing in a commercial run at the Carlton Cinema for a solid week by then (See our review here).
But Laurent Bécue-Renard’s shattering study of American servicemen being treated for PTSD after tours in Iraq will benefit from an audience that’s properly braced for it.