Hot Doc 2018: THE SILENCE OF OTHERS (Spain/USA 2018) ***1/2

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The Silence of Others Poster
The Silence of Others reveals the epic struggle of victims of Spain’s 40-year dictatorship under General Franco, who continue to seek justice to this day. Filmed over six years, the film …See full summary »

 

One of the biggest docs to premiere at Toronto’s HOT DOS 2018 this year is Pedro Almodovar’s presentation of THE SILENCE OF OTHERS, a film about the evil of the Franco regime of 40 years.  The film gets personal at the film’s start when a 90-ish old women places flowers at the side of the road.  

She is still mourning the death of her mother, who was taken away by the townsfolk way back in the 30’s and left by the side of the road.  Her body was not allowed to be taken to the cemetery.  Footage taken in 1936 the shows Franco next to Hitler followed by massacre of rows of people and other injustices such as brutal beatings by Franco troops. All the above occurs within the first 5 minutes of the film so the audience is primed for a solid riveting historical documentary.  This elderly woman is just one person seeking just for inhumanities done during the Franco regime.  She and many others want their relatives’ graves exhumed for their remains.  Others were tortured by officials in the regime.  They,understandably want justice.

  The film follows a select few of those who suffered under the Franco regime.  Many want the torturers punished and go to jail while others want the bodies of their dead ones back for proper burial.  The film centres on their emotions especially showing their joy and relief after the courts have passed sentence.

Trailer: http://www.critic.de/film/the-silence-of-others-11676/trailer/

Carlos Slepoy

 

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Hot Docs 2018: DIE NACHT DER NACHTE (THE NIGHT OF ALL NIGHTS) (Germany 2018) ***

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Die Nacht der Nächte Poster
Together. For a lifetime. Who can manage this? And who still wants this? What seems to be an oddity for us nowadays was the norm for the generation of our grandparents. This generation still experienced it – a traditional wedding night.

 

Likely the most charming documentary at Hot Docs 2018.   Together for a lifetime?  Who can manage this?  And who still wants this? What seems to be an oddity for people these days was the norm for the generation of our grandparents.  The doc follows four separate lifelong couples from different countries as they experience and talk about their traditional wedding night.  The couples are elderly couples from Japan, Germany and India including a gay couple from Pennsylvania in the United States.  The film is shot in Japanese, Hindi and German with English subtitles  and in English.   This is a simple documentary not requiring much research. What it lacks in terms of content and history is compensated by the amusing observations on human behaviour.  Of all the couples on display, the Indian one is the most endearing.  The segment where the husband and wife describe their first ‘touching’ encounter in a cinema is unforgettable and in itself is worth the price of admission.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_Dg-py6X_U

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Hot Docs Review: A CAMBODIAN SPRING (UK 2017) ***1/2

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A CAMBODIAN SPRING.jpgIn Cambodia, “they used to kill with weapons, now they kill with corruption.” In the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge, decades of civil war, and the installation of Hun Sen as prime minister, the oppression continues.

Director(s): Chris Kelly
Producer(s): Chris Kelly

Executive Producer(s):
Bob Moore
Christo Hird
Edwina Forkin

Review by Gilbert Seah

There are serious docs and and there are hilarious docs at HOT DOCS 2017.

A CAMBODIAN SPRING is one of the more serious docs of the festival dealing with one of the most serious issues facing people today – human rights and human rights in a country that is corrupted, inhuman and cruel.

The country is Cambodia and writer/producer/director/editor Chris Kelly gives his audience an intimate and unique portrait of three people (among them a monk and a resident of a home around a lake stolen by the Government) caught up in the chaotic and often violent development that is shaping modern-day Cambodia.

The film, shot over six years, charts the growing wave of land-rights protests that led to the ‘Cambodian spring’ and the tragic events that followed. This film is about the complexities – both political and personal, of fighting for what one believes in.

The film educates the world to the real Cambodia. There are unforgettable images on display here – like children taking to the streets and a bloodied injured old woman.

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Hot Docs Review: INTEGRAL MAN (Canada 2016) ***

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He chose two young architects that would come to change contemporary architecture. Jim Stewart is the most published mathematician since Euclid, a concert level violinist, calculus professor, philanthropist, and gay rights activist. He is a true polymath, a modern day renaissance man. He had a bold vision and the conviction to follow through.

Director: Joseph Clement

Review by Gilbert Seah<

As this reviewer teaches mathematics at a college in Toronto, it is expected that INTEGRAL MAN be selected as a documentary to be reviewed.

The human subject of INTEGRAL MAN is Jim Stewart, the most published mathematician since Euclid, a man of unparalleled ambition. His books are sold the world over. But this man is also a music lover.

Stewart set out to create one of the most renowned pieces of residential architecture in North America and succeeded, demonstrating the perfect match between client and architect. The other subject of the film is this residence, overlooking a ravine in Rosedale, Toronto which the film spends more than half the time showcasing. Unbeknownst to Jim however, an unexpected turn of events is set to unfold.

He is diagnosed with cancer. The film is a worthy tribute to a man who has devoted his life to music and has paid back his dues to that art from. Beware! The film is full of glorified decadence!

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/209647946

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HOT DOCS 2017 Reviews: DO DONKEYS ACT? Starring Willem DaFoe

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do_donkeys_act.jpgDonkeys inhabit and communicate with each other – and the filmmakers – in a Sanctuary.

Directors: David Redmon, Ashley Sabin
Star: Willem Dafoe

Review by Gilbert Seah

 It has to happen eventually – a documentary on donkeys from the donkey’s point of view.

The film’s ethno-poetic-animal-fiction takes its playfully self-reflexive cues from Jean Rouch and Chris Marker.

Encouraging the audience to respect a major language barrier the audience might not otherwise consider––the mystery and intrigue of donkey utterances––DO DONKEYS ACT? invites the audience to “step into their shade, listen closely” as we attune to a series of dramatic performances in which one’s eavesdrop on donkeys speaking amongst themselves.

Narrated by Willem Dafoe, this tactic is amusing but sometimes, simplicity is the key.

Though it might seem trivial to learn more about donkeys, curiosity eventually has its day in this occasionally fascinating portrayal of the neglected animal who is still part of God’s animal Kingdom. Everything you wanted to know that happens inside a donkey sanctuary. The film was shot in several docket sanctuaries including the one in Guelph, Ontario. Present during Hot Docs will be Co-Director David Redmon.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/200043031

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HOT DOCS 2017 Reviews: PACmen (USA 2017) ***

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

pacmen.jpgThis observational documentary follows the men behind the Super-PACs that persuaded Dr Ben Carson to run for President. Believing Carson can save the Republican Party, they successfully draft him to run, raise millions of dollars and catapult him to the top of the polls. However, as Carson’s political inexperience begins to show, his constant media gaffes make fundraising increasingly difficult. Donors and voters abandon Carson’s campaign as wallets close, hearts open and faith is tested. As Trump inexplicably rises, the campaign descends into chaos and the PACmen begin to wonder – did they pick the wrong savior?

Director: Luke Walker
Writer: Luke Walker
 
Review by Gilbert Seah

Not to be confused with Pacman the video game, PACmen is a group, as introduced at the start of the film that has access to almost unlimited funds.

This observational documentary called PACmen, directed, producer, and written by Luke Walker, follows the people behind the Super-PACs that persuaded Dr​. ​Ben Carson to run for President.

​ ​ This is all true and Ben Carson is seen often in debate with now President of the United States Donald Trump, who was then just a competitive candidate. This makes the film more interesting though the audience now knows who won the Presidency. Believing Carson can save the Republican Party, they successfully draft him to run, raise​ ​millions of dollars and catapult him to the top of the polls.​ ​

However, as Carson’s political inexperience begins to show (he know nothing about the Middle East, which is really sad), his constant media gaffes make​ ​fundraising increasingly difficult. Donors and voters abandon Carson’s campaign as wallets​ ​close, hearts open and faith is tested.​ ​

As Trump inexplicably rises, the campaign descends into chaos and the PACmen begin to​ ​wonder… did they pick the wrong saviour? Walker’s documentary would be more relevant if the PACmen picked a winner instead of a loser. This is an example of the luck of the draw.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/205346326
 

 

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HOT DOCS 2017 Reviews: 78/52 (USA 2017) ***1/2

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7852An unprecedented look at the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, the “man behind the curtain”, and the screen murder that profoundly changed the course of world cinema.

Director: Alexandre O. Philippe
Stars: Alan Barnette, Justin Benson, Peter Bogdanovich

Review by Gilbert Seah
 
78/52 offers an unprecedented look at the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO – the “man behind the curtain” and the screen murder that profoundly changed the course of world cinema. The famous shower scene – the opening and closing of the bathroom door; the water streaming from the shower; the curtain slowly pulling apart; the repeated stabbing; the blood flowing down the bath; the door bathroom door slamming shut.

The entire scene’s storyboard with the script is read aloud (and also the pages of the novel of the same name by Robert Block, illustrating the differences) to the audience as the scene, unfolds one step at a time, offering a fresh insight.

The contribution of both Edward Hermann to the music and George Tomasini to the sound effects are detailed in the film, providing more insight and pleasure to the cineaste.

The film includes clips of films that have been influenced by Hitchcock. Director Philippe (DOC OF THE DEAD) has done thorough and detailed research on Hitchcock and the shower scene and it shows.

The result is one of the best and most insightful documentaries on the techniques of the Master of Suspense.

Clip: http://www.dreadcentral.com/news/208152/sundance-2017-new-7852-clip-goes-psycho-shower-scene/
 

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