Hot Docs 2012 selects 20 films from or about Asia Pacific

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Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival announced its full film line-up for the upcoming 19th edition, April 26-May 6, at a press conference this morning at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto. From 2,085 film submissions, this year’s slate will present 189 titles from a record 51 countries in 11 screening programs. Among this selection, 20 films are from or about Asia Pacific.

“This is a big year for Hot Docs. With a new cinema we are committing more so than ever to documentary film as a force to be reckoned with,” says Hot Docs director of programming Charlotte Cook. “With the largest country representation the Festival has ever had, we will be hearing many new voices from all over the world. It’s wonderful to be able to bring such a great range of films to Toronto audiences, to champion documentary in a city that truly supports documentary as an art form.”

The opening night is Canadian premiere of Alison Klayman’s AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY, an up-close portrait at of the renowned Chinese activist and artist.

A premier documentary conference and market, Hot Docs will be welcoming over 2 000 industry delegates who will partake in a wide array of industry events and services, including conferences sessions, receptions and parties, Rendezvous meetings, The Doc Shop and the Hot Docs Forum, May 2 and 3.

Docs films from or about Asia Pacific by alpbabetical order:

. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Director: Alison Klayman | 91 minutes | USA, China | 2011 | Language: (Subtitled) English, Mandarin | Canadian Premiere
Program: Special Presentations

With unprecedented access, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry follows China’s most renowned artist and activist; his art, politics and humour revealing a man of unrelenting spirit and defiance, who inspires millions across the world.

Video HotDocs 1 minutes critic

. Aida: A Natural-Born Artist

Director: Shogo Watanabe | 99 minutes | Japan | 2011 | Language: (Subtitled) Japanese | World Premiere
Program: Next

“Life is miserable if you can’t be an artist.” Torn between his Beijing studio and his family in Japan, contemporary artist Aida Makoto rides the highs and lows of the artistic process while creating a series of large-scale paintings featuring reclining schoolgirls and sprawling salarymen.

. A.K.


Director: Chris Marker | 75 minutes | France | 1985 | Language: (Subtitled) French, Japanese
Program: Documentary Plays Itself

Following the filming of Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, acclaimed documentarian Chris Marker creates a thoughtful portrait of one of cinema’s most highly regarded directors. A look into the method of two masters at work, one documenting the other.

. The Boxing Girls of Kabul

Director: Ariel J. Nasr | 52 minutes | Canada | 2011 | Toronto Premiere
Program: Canadian Spectrum

Training in the stadium where the Taliban once executed women, a remarkable group of young female boxers strive to become champions, risking persecution as they fight to represent Afghanistan at the Olympics.

. Buzkashi!

Director: Najeeb Mirza | 81 minutes | Canada | 2012 | Language: (Subtitled) Tajik, Uzbek, Russian | World Premiere
Program: Canadian Spectrum

In Tajikistan’s mountains, the ancient sport of Buzkashi pits individual horsemen against each other. Champion Azam plays for honour and integrity, but his success is threatened by mafia influences that could transform the game – and country – forever.

. China Heavyweight

Director: Yung Chang | 89 minutes | Canada, China | 2012 | Language: Sichuanese | Canadian Premiere
Program: Special Presentations

Boxing was banned in China for decades for being too violent. Now, director Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze) follows a boxing coach as he recruits and trains poor rural teenagers to become champions for the glory of their country.

. Death to the Camera

Director: Sayed Qasem Husseini | 20 minutes | Afghanistan | 2011 | Language: (Subtitled) Farsi-Dari | Canadian Premiere
Program: Rise Against

. Despite the Gods

Director: Penny Vozniak | 85 minutes | Australia | 2012 | Language: (Subtitled) English, Hindi | World Premiere
Program: World Showcase

An overly ambitious Bollywood/Hollywood production about a man-eating snake goddess becomes an exercise in self-actualization rather than effective filmmaking. An unforgiving behind-the-scenes look at Jennifer Lynch’s disastrous return to filmmaking after a 15-year hiatus.

Video HotDocs 1 minute critic

. Fists of Pride

Director: Hélène Choquette | 63 minutes | Canada | 2012 | Language: (Subtitled) Burmese, Thai, Karen, Pao | World Premiere
Program: Canadian Spectrum

For young sons of migrant workers, a Thai boxing camp on the Burmese border promises honour and an escape from poverty, but with corrupt coaches gambling on matches, the boys’ battles extend well beyond the ring.

. High Tech, Low Life

Director: Stephen Maing | 86 minutes | USA | 2012 | Language: (Subtitled) Mandarin | International Premiere
Program: Rise Against

Two of China’s first citizen-reporters attempt to document the untold stories of hardship and oppression; their brave efforts are fraught with the challenges of navigating the country’s evolving censorship regulations and avoiding political persecution.

. Jai Bhim Comrade

Director: Anand Patwardhan | 185 minutes | India | 2011 | Language: (Subtitled) Marathi, English, Hindi | Canadian Premiere
Program: International Spectrum

Award-winning activist documentarian Anand Patwardhan sets the stirring protest music and poetry of India’s low-caste Dalits against the 1997 police shooting of unarmed protesters to evoke the larger story of their oppression.

. Made In China

Director: Jian Du | 120 minutes | China | 2011 | Language: (Subtitled) Chinese | North American Premiere
Program: International Spectrum

A revelatory look at the lives of garment workers at Old Liu factory, one of 3000 factories in Dongguan, China, known as the “Workshop of the World.” Jian Du captures, often with good humour, the personalities behind the ubiquitous label “Made in China.”

. My Thai Bride


Director: David Tucker | 54 minutes | Australia | 2011 | North American Premiere
Program: International Spectrum

Welshman Ted Rees makes a comfortable living importing cheap goods from Thailand, but when he bargains for a young, attractive Thai wife he receives a very painful and costly lesson.

. Ping Pong

Director: Hugh Hartford | 76 minutes | UK | 2012 | Language: (Subtitled) English, German, Mandarin, Japanese | World Premiere
Program: World Showcase

Pensioners from across the world meet in Mongolia to compete in the over-80s Table Tennis Championships. Eight players with 703 years between them offer their funny, moving and inspiring stories as they battle it out on the table.

. Planet of Snail

Director: Seung-Jun Yi | 89 minutes | South Korea, Japan, Finland | 2011 | Language: (Subtitled) Korean | Canadian Premiere
Program: International Spectrum

Forget Hollywood. This is the most moving love story you will see all year. A deaf-blind Korean poet and his physically disabled wife teach us how to experience the extraordinary in the everyday.

. Scarlet Road

Director: Catherine Scott | 70 minutes | Australia | 2011 | Canadian Premiere
Program: World Showcase

An intimate, humorous and moving story about an Australian sex worker, Rachel Wotton, who specializes in a long over-looked clientele – those with disabilities.

. Where Heaven Meets Hell

Director: Sasha Friedlander | 80 minutes | USA | 2012 | Language: (Subtitled) Indonesian, English | North American Premiere | Rating: PG
Program: International Spectrum

Drawing strength from their Muslim faith and the love of their families, Indonesian sulphur miners face gruelling labour and treacherous conditions on an active volcano, while struggling to overcome the desperate poverty and illiteracy that plague their community.

. The World Before Her

Director: Nisha Pahuja | 90 minutes | Canada, Germany, USA, UK | 2012 | Language: (Subtitled) English, Hindi | Canadian Premiere
Program: Canadian Spectrum

As young hopefuls compete in a Bombay beauty pageant, village girls undergo combat training in a rural fundamentalist camp. Director Nisha Pauja brilliantly captures the clash between modernity and tradition faced by young women in India.

. The World’s Most Fashionable Prison

Director: CK Mak | 67 minutes | Singapore, UK | 2012 | Language: (Subtitled) English, Tagalog | North American Premiere | Rating: PG
Program: World Showcase

Prison meets Project Runway, as we follow fashion designer Puey Quinones’ work with a group of inmates in a Philippine maximum security facility, taking them from sewing workshops to a full-production fashion show.

. The Young Man Was (Part 1: United Red Army)

Director: Naeem Mohaiemen | 70 minutes | Bangladesh | 2011 | Language: (Subtitled) English, Japanese, Bengali | World Premiere
Program: World Showcase

The 1977 hijacking of a Japanese airliner is evoked through a series of transcripts revealing a riveting exchange of threats, accusations and surprising courtesies between the United Red Army, a Japanese left-wing terrorist group, and the Bangladeshi military government.

Some Asia Pacific featured guests have been announced: 
• Qi Moxiang from CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT (D: Yung Chang | Canada, China |89 min) – A state boxing coach, Qi Moxiang searches for young boys with raw talent who he hopes to shape into champions.
• Jennifer Lynch from DESPITE THE GODS (D: Penny Vozniak | Australia | 85 min) – Daughter of cult film auteur David Lynch, director Jennifer Lynch’s Bollywood/Hollywood production puts her to the test.

Hot Docs (www.hotdocs.ca) is North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market. From April 26 to May 6, Hot Docs’ 19th edition will present an outstanding selection of 189 documentaries from Canada and around the world to Toronto audiences and international delegates. Hot Docs will also mount a full roster of conference sessions and market events and services for documentary practitioners, including the renowned Hot Docs Forum, May 2 and 3, and The Doc Shop. In partnership with Blue Ice Group, Hot Docs operates the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, a century-old landmark located in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood.

http://hotdocs.ca

SOURCE: Hot Docs (20/03/2012)

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