Review: Wiebo’s War

  With “Wiebo’s War” being released to several theatres this week, I thought I should republish a review I wrote earlier in the Spring while it screened at the Hot Docs 2011 film festival. It’s fascinating, heartbreaking and easily one of the best documentaries I’ve seen all year. A list of cities screening it can be found at...

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Hot Docs 2011 – Capsule Reviews #3

    One final burst of short reviews from this year’s Hot Docs Film Festival:     Recessionize For Fun And Profit! (2010 – Jamie Kastner) – The secondary title of Kastner’s film states “15 Simple Steps!” and refers to the 15 sections into which his 60 minute Michael Moore-esque jaunt of a doc is broken....

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HotDocs 2011: Wiebo’s War

    Typically, the best documentaries are the ones that make you look at something from a different angle, approach a situation or person in a way you never expected and even further educate you on a topic that you thought you already knew. For example, if you’re Canadian, you may think you know the story of Wiebo Ludwig. If the name rings a...

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Hot Docs Wrap-up Podcast: Kurt Guest’s on The Documentary Blog Podcast

  You may have heard me talk in brief about many HotDocs titles, during the documentary film festivals early May run, on the Row Three Cinecast. Or you read Bob and my own coverage in the form of full length and capsule reviews during the same time period. But a little more time has passed and a little more reflection on what were the key successes and...

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HotDocs 2011: The Guantanamo Trap

    The Guantanamo Trap signals early on (with some rather poorly intoned narration) that it has a bias to it. Hell, it’s title alone gives that away. Fortunately it’s strength is that it mostly tucks that bias away when the people are talking – in particular, when the person who wrote the “torture memo” (the letter that...

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HotDocs 2011 – Capsule Reviews #2

    A few more mini-reviews from the onslaught that was Hot Docs 2011:     Dragonslayer (2011 – Tristan Patterson) – Winner of this year’s Best International feature at Hot Docs, Patterson’s debut feature is in many ways a simple film – it follows skateboarder Skreech through several weeks of skating, hanging...

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HotDocs 2011: Project Nim Review

    Meet Nim Chimpsky, the irrepressibly cute chimpanzee snatched from his mother at birth from the Oklahoma Institute by Primate Studies by Columbia professor Herbert Terrace for a radical experiment in language and cognition: Could a chimp learn sign language and have a cross-species conversation with human beings? The superlative new documentary...

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HotDocs 2011 – Awards

    The 2011 version of Hot Docs has now closed its doors for another year and once again is basking in the glow of success. As the festival transitioned some of its screenings to the new TIFF Lightbox theatres, it seems like it is well prepared to continue to grow – not just in the number of films it screens or in its reputation, but as a forum...

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HotDocs 2011 – Capsule Reviews #1

    The Hot Docs 2011 festival may now be over (award winners announced and we’ll post them shortly), but we still have some reviews (capsules like these as well as full ones) to percolate through over the next few days.     Superheroes (2011 – Michael Barnett) – The regular average-joe playing at superhero is a bit past...

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HotDocs 2011: The Future Is Now!

    There’s something to be said for “talking head” movies. When intelligent people discuss interesting or novel ideas in passionate ways, you don’t necessarily need an overall story arc, narrative thrust or cinematic quality to the proceedings – smart people saying smart things can be engaging enough. Certainly none of...

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