Monday, May 7, 2012

Hot Docs 2012 in Review

This year's festival was yet another resounding success for Hot Docs aficionados.  I saw over a dozen films and have friends who saw even more.  All but one of the feature length films I saw were very good.  Compared to other years, where my picks had ended up being mostly quite political, this year they leaned toward gentle and heartwarming, with Brooklyn Castle and G-Dog being my favourites.  World Before Her was another fabourite and they were all on the Top Ten list of audience favourites.  The winner of the People's Choice award was Chasing Ice.  It was a National Geographic photographers documentary on the disappearing ice in the Arctic.  Alas, I didn't even read the details because I assumed it was about hockey!  My bad.

Some stats about the festival:
  • 11 days
  • 165,000 audience
  • 395 screenings of 189 films
  • 17 theatres across Toronto, plus two films simulcast to 37 theatres across Canada
  • 143 films went rush
  • nearly 200 film makers and film subjects participated in Q&A
Great job by the Hot Docs team.

The refurbished Bloor Cinema was a delightful place to see a movie and was filled to its capacity of 727 seats for all the films I attended there.  Hot Docs has taken on a major commitment with this theatre and I wish them well in screening great docs throughout the year.  I missed many of the films that made the Audience Favourites list or earned Jury awards, but I hope that some of them might find their way onto the screen at the Bloor.  I've also always yearned for a chance to catch the winners from past years.  I hope the Bloor might be a home to show those films.

Yesterday I attended the second-to-last screening in the Cumberland Theatre, one of the mainstays of the Hot Docs festival.  It's sad to see it go, because while TIFF Lightbox is a fantastic venue, it's not in the wonderful cluster that let film goers walk easily from film to film in the Bloor/Avenue Road area.  It underlines the difficulty in keeping open smaller theatres screening excellent films that aren't necessarily top box-office.  All the more reason to support the Bloor Cinema.

Congratulations to all those at Hot Docs for a great festival.  See you next year.

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