5 Must-See Films At Hot Docs 2016


Hot Docs, North America’s premier doc-cinema festival, is set to begin its 2016 edition in Toronto, with 232 films being screened from April 28 to May 8. 

There are 118 world and international premieres from 51 countries spread across 11-days, as well as special events like the Docs X- interactive installations and virtual-reality films among the attractions of the festival’s newly expanded. With so many films to choose from, I´ve picked 5 films that you must see this year.

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festivals runs April 28 to May 8 in Toronto. Passes and ticket packages are on sale now. Individual tickets will be available beginning March 22, 2016.

The entire Hot Docs film schedule can be found HERE

League of Exotique Dancers
Hot Docs kicks off with this very entertaining look at a group of burlesque dancers who were active performing on stages over 50 years ago. Interviewed by director Ram Rau as they prepare to enter the Legends of Burlesque Hall of Fame, the women tell fascinating stories about dealing with sexism, racism, violence while discussing their chosen art form. All of them are unique individuals who show a lot of pride in their profession, carefully explaining the differences with burlesque and strip clubs along with commentary about sex, beauty, and femininity. Highly recommended.

Off the Rails
Darius McCollum loves the transit system. He loves it so much that he´s spent 23 years in maximum security prison due to his taking and driving buses and trains without permission. This is complicated by the fact that Darius has Asperger´s syndrome, and his recidivism is due in part to his obsession and belief that he can do the job well, rather than simple criminal behaviour. Listening to him speak you´re struck by how gentle he appears and how earnest he is about wanting to be a good driver and his views on what´s involved. His inability to change his behaviour is almost maddening, especially to people like his long suffering mother. I found his story both inspiring and very tragic.

Gary Numan
An intimate look at an intriguing artist, the film takes a behind the scenes look at the process of the making of his new album and the worries, neurosis, anxieties about returning to the world of popular music. His openness and honesty about his own social issues due to his Asperger´s are very touching, as are his stories about his early success and the relationship he has with his wife and kids. Numan was one of the first pop artists to fully embrace the futuristic sounds of synthesizers and electronic music and I enjoyed his thoughts on being at the forefront of it all.

>O.J. Made in America
The story of the man known to most people as the ex-football player-turned-actor was put on trial for the killing of his ex-wife. The film examines his drive and desire on the football field at school, as a professional and onwards in to the film world s an actor. Seeing himself as more than just a black man but rather a highly successful American, O.J. is shown having the tremendous ability to charm his way in to places of power and priviledge, and the change it had on his own personality and sense of identification with black America. This is as much a portrait of America itself as it is of O.J., who is very much a product of his society.


In the middle of the G20 Kettle at Queen and Spadina in Toronto.

In the middle of the G20 Kettle at Queen and Spadina in Toronto.

The G20 conference in Toronto in 2010 had many incidents that seared themselves into the memories of local residents who were caught up in that weekends chaos. One such event was the kettling of a huge group of people at a major street corner in the downtown area, mixing peaceful protesters and random passers by who were either curious or simply on their way home. The resulting police action was deemed an abuse of power and of civil rights and contributed to one of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history . Director Lucius Dechausay was among those kettled by the police, making this a personal account that has been skillfully pieced together using footage shot during the proceedings, interviews with those who were caught in it, and even audio recordings of radio traffic from officers at the scene who themselves are confused and bewildered by the actions of their superiors.

– Ian MacKenzie


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