Hot Docs Redux program puts female filmmakers in the spotlight

It's all thanks to Kiva Reardon, a TIFF programmer and founding editor of the feminist film journal cléo (as well as a former NOW contributor).


Having programmed last year’s Hot Docs industry conference, Reardon – who wrote a heavily circulated TIFF essay last winter about expanding the Canadian film canon beyond the dominant white-male perspective – was tapped to do just that for Redux, assembling a selection of Canadian documentaries made by women.

What was the specific mandate for the program? How big was the list when you started out?

Redux’s aim is bringing “documentary gems back to the big screen,” and this year we wanted to do it in the context of shedding light on docs directed by women that historically have been overlooked or undervalued. Instead of seeing these films as niche [productions] because they’re directed by women, we wanted to place them in conversation with the broader film canon, where we believe they belong.

We went about selecting the films in a new way, emailing some 70-plus women working in the Canadian film industry – writers, actors, directors, producers, academics, programmers – to ask them to submit a Canadian doc directed by a woman that they wish had gotten more attention.

How did you make your final selections? Was there a title that proved impossible to secure or a filmmaker you weren’t able to include?

The list we got from the submissions was so interesting, and really showed the gaps in terms what films get screened and are frequently written about. Having a “hive-mind” create the long list hopefully added to the democratization of the film canon, too, as many voices were part of the process of saying “this film is essential.”

As for selections, we tried to curate a program that’s as representational as possible (it helped that the long list was!), a challenge when there’s only six slots. We added shorts to some programs, as there are certain filmmakers we just really wanted to be attached to the program. For instance, we’re screening Alanis Obomsawin‘s Christmas At Moose Factory, one of my all-time favourite short films, with Mohawk Girls (May 3, 1:15 pm, Scotiabank 7).

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Which film are you happiest to have included? Which film do you think audiences will be most surprised by?

I’m really glad audiences will get to see Sisters In The Struggle (May 6, 12:30 pm, Scotiabank 7) on the big screen, since the late-era work of Studio D from the 1990s doesn’t get enough recognition. Forbidden Love (April 30, 1:15 pm, TIFF 4) is also part of that era. P4W: Prison For Women (April 29, 10:15 am, TIFF 4) is harder to find online, so I’m happy we’re offering audiences that chance to see that – I just found out we’re screening it in 16mm! And the poetry of Tu As Crié Let Me Go (April 28, 12:30 pm, TIFF 2) is all the more devastating when seen on the big screen. I really think Mohawk Girls is a Canadian classic, and Tiger Spirit (April 28, 4 pm, TIFF 4), with everything going on in North Korea right now, feels uncannily timely.

normw@nowtoronto.com | @normwilner

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