Film fest to feature Soderbergh, Grenier

Entourage star Adrian Grenier’s look at a teenage paparazzo, Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh’s profile of the late theatre artist Spalding Gray and a piece on homegrown rockers Rush are among the offerings at this year’s Hot Docs festival.

Stephen Soderbergh

Stephen Soderbergh

TORONTO — Entourage star Adrian Grenier’s look at a teenage paparazzo, Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh’s profile of the late theatre artist Spalding Gray and a piece on homegrown rockers Rush are among the offerings at this year’s Hot Docs festival.

A total of 166 films from 41 countries will unspool at the 17th annual Toronto event, which kicks off April 29 and is billed as North America’s largest documentary festival.

Organizers say the audience has more than doubled over the last five years. The increase is a reflection of a desire by audiences to see genuine expression in cinema, said Sean Farnel, the festival’s director of programming.

“Documentary filmmakers, in the fluid forms they work with, they allow their stories to really breathe and the people in their stories to express themselves in their own voices with their own passions.”

The festival will open with Thomas Balmes’ highly anticipated French documentary Babies, which follows four infants from around the world.

Screening later that day is Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage from Canadian filmmakers Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn, who have examined rock music with several docs including last year’s Iron Maiden: Flight 666.

Grenier’s film, Teenage Paparazzo, focuses on 13-year-old shutterbug Austin Visschedyk and features socialite Paris Hilton and actors Alec Baldwin and Matt Damon.

Also examining celebrity culture is Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s Joan Rivers — A Piece of Work, about her efforts to get work in a youth-obsessed business.

And Everything is Going Fine is the title of Soderbergh’s intimate biography of his long-time friend and collaborator Gray, whose body was pulled from the East River in New York in 2004.

Other Canadian pieces in the lineup include The Story of Furious Pete, about Mississauga, Ont., native Pete Czerwinski, who was anorexic as a teen and travels to take part in eating competitions.

“It’s a documentary about many things: it’s bizarre, gross, inspiring and heartwarming,” said director-producer George Tsioutsioulas.

Hot Docs executive director Chris McDonald says he’s impressed with the calibre of submissions this year, particularly given the funding cutbacks the genre is facing.

“What’s happened recently is there are less advertising dollars that broadcasters have, there’ve been mergers and acquisitions within the broadcast community, which means there are fewer outlets for filmmakers, Canadian in this case, to find financing for their films so they’ve had to be creative,” he explained.

“At the same time, opportunities have emerged for filmmakers: technology, small cameras, people are able to edit films on laptops, so it’s become much more of a democratic process.”

Canadian Maya Gallus, director of Dish — Women, Waitressing and the Art of Service, which is screening at this year’s festival, said she’s felt the pinch.

“These are tough times to be a documentary maker — to be I think any kind of filmmaker really — and budgets are shrinking, it’s harder to get financing,” she said. “We were very, very lucky and grateful to be able to get the financing together for this film.”

But Canadian director-producer John Walker — who is returning to Hot Docs for the fourth time with A Drummer’s Dream, about a big jam session with seven internationally renowned drummers — is optimistic.

“The traditional structures of funding are shifting so we’re in a period of transition and that always is a difficult period for any industry, but there’s always ups and downs,” said Walker, who was one of the founding members of the Documentary Organization of Canada, which helped birth Hot Docs.

“We’ve been through it, we’ve been low before and we’ll come back up again, so we have to just reorganize.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Jason Kenney struck back at unruly protesters who chanted ‘lock her up’ in relation to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Monday. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Alberta Premier calls for ‘unhinged conspiracy theorists’ to stop threatening the chief medical officer

Spreading misinformation, making threats is ‘beyond the pale,’ said Kenney

An internal investigation by AHS revealed 3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly by two clerical employees in the diagnostic imaging department at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Employees access 3K patients’ records in privacy breach at Red Deer hospital

3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly

The Red Deer Boxing Club will be moving to a larger space, in North Red Deer. The programs need more room to grow, says founder Robert Carswell. (Photo by LANA MICHELIn/Advocate staff).
Red Deer Boxing Club is moving to north industrial site

The property was rezoned to accommodate recreational uses

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Air Canada agrees to $5.9-billion aid package, giving Ottawa equity stake in airline

$1.4 billion earmarked to help reimburse thousands of customers

Innisfail RCMP say Brandon Pitts is missing. (Photo contributed)
Missing central Alberta man

Innisfail RCMP request public’s help

Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus stand in a queue to offer prayers inside a temple dedicated to goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. New infections have surged in the past month and India has now reported over 13.6 million cases — pushing its toll past Brazil, and making it second only to the United States. In the past 24 hours, over 160,000 new infections have been detected and experts fear that the worst is yet to come. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Johnson & Johnson delays shot rollout in Europe

BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of… Continue reading

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers wait in line to sign up for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine site, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of New York. The mobile vaccination effort includes two buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose… Continue reading

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

FILE - Rhian Wilkinson, left, and Melissa Tancredi of Canada’s women’s soccer team attend a news conference in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to announce their retirement from the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson now part of England coaching setup

Wilkinson left Canada Soccer in January to join interim England head coach Hege Riise as an assistant

Canadian actor/producer/director Jay Baruchel is photographed at the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Ont., ahead of the premier of Baruchel’s movie Random Acts of Violence, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Jay Baruchel to host Amazon Prime Video’s ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Canada’

Final comedian left standing wins a grand prize for a charity of their choice

Letters
Letter: Leaders like MLA Jason Stephan should work towards greater good

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan talks about the devastating social and… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Women, hit hardest by pandemic, key to economic recovery

Events of the past year have laid bare the many disparities and… Continue reading

Most Read