The 20th edition of the Hot Docs Festival is over. It was a dizzying ten days for me as I squeezed in 24 films. Only one film was disappointing (Fatal Assistance) and I rated the rest of them highly. However, there wasn't one blow-away film for me, as in other years, just solid quality throughout.
It's a great experience to participate in Hot Docs. You meet lovely people in line, or next to you in the theatre. You're greeted by numerous helpful volunteers. The audience gives rousing applause when the credits mention the 700+ volunteers - there's nothing perfunctory about the applause, it's really heartfelt. You swell with pride for what has been achieved in Toronto when so many film makers praise the festival as the best in the world, primarily because of the engagement of the audience. Even allowing for a certain amount of generous spirit because they're thrilled their films have been chosen, you can hear the deep respect in their voices.
Canadians have been leaders in documentary film making, possibly stemming from the National Film Board's pioneering work in documentaries and the respect for its many Oscar nominees and winners. As one of the statements in the pre-film credits puts it:
As jazz is to America, so documentary is to Canada