Hot Docs 2021 lineup includes films from Yung Chang, Jennifer Holness and Theo Anthony

Going virtual for a second year, the festival of Canadian and international documentary cinema rolls out 15 titles screening as Special Presentations

It’s about to get real again: Hot Docs has announced the first titles of its 2021 festival.

The festival of Canadian and international documentary cinema, which opens April 29, will be sticking to streaming for a second year, using the Hot Docs At Home platform launched last spring when the fest reconfigured itself as an online event due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To tease a more comprehensive announcement later this month, Hot Docs announced 15 titles set to screen in this year’s Special Presentations program.

World premieres include Israeli filmmaker Daniel Sivan’s Dirty Tricks, a true-crime story set in the world of competitive bridge; Sol Guy’s The Death Of My Two Fathers, a generational study built on videotapes recorded by his dying father; Dutch director Willemiek Kluijfhout’s The Taste Of Desire, “a poetic trip around the world” telling the stories of people whose lives have been touched by oysters, and Wuhan Wuhan, Canadian filmmaker (and past NOW cover star) Yung Chang’s look at the COVID-19 lockdown in China.

Toronto producer/director Jennifer Holness’s latest documentary, Subjects Of Desire – which explores the intersection of race and cultural standards of beauty – will have its first Canadian screening at Hot Docs just weeks after its world premiere at SXSW.

Rat Film director Theo Anthony’s All Light, Everywhere, a look at objectivity, technology and perceptual bias, arrives fresh from winning a special jury prize for nonfiction experimentation at Sundance; Valerie Taylor’s Playing With Sharks, the story of her journey from documentarian to activist, also premiered at the January festival.

Corey Hughes

Theo Anthony’s All Light Everywhere won a Special Jury Prize for Non-Fiction Experimentation at Sundance.

Also pulled from the international circuit: René Sascha Johannsen’s 7 Years Of Lukas Graham, which tags along with Danish vocalist Lukas Forchhammer as a hit single launches him onto the global stage.

Foodies will salivate over John Daschbach’s Come Back Anytime, which profiles a year in the life of Japanese ramen chef Masamoto Ueda; stranger-than-fiction fans can enjoy Sam Hobkinson’s Misha And The Wolves, which investigates the truly bizarre story of Belgian author Misha Defonseca, who wrote a book about surviving the Holocaust as a seven-year-old by sheltering with a pack of wolves… only to admit she’d fabricated the story a decade later.

Alba Sotorra Clua’s The Return: Life After ISIS tells the stories of Western women who decided to join ISIS in Syria, and lived to regret it; Hannah Berryman’s Rockfield: The Studio On The Farm is a British documentary about the remote Welsh recording studio – which is indeed on a dairy farm – that’s hosted everyone from Led Zeppelin to Coldplay over the decades. (Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody there.)

Glenn Kaino and Afshin Shahidi look at the two athletes who raised their fists in support of civil rights at the 1968 Summer Olympics in With Drawn Arms, a U.S.-Mexico venture. With Who We Are: A Chronicle Of Racism In America, Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler collapse centuries of racial unrest into a two-hour lecture from ACLU deputy legal director Jeffery Robinson.

There’s also a special screening of The Rossellinis, the story of the Italian cinema dynasty whose talent runs through more than 80 years, as told by Roberto Rossellini’s grandson Alessandro.

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival runs from April 29 to May 9, 2021. Ticket packages and passes are on sale now; single-ticket sales begin March 30.


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