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Documentaries with a dose of reality

Documentaries with a dose of reality

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May 29th, 2020

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Documentaries with a dose of reality

Today’s Guest Curators are directors and journalists Diana Neille and Richard Poplak, whose new documentary Influence is screening as part Hot Docs Festival Online, a lockdown-friendly version of the popular Toronto documentary film festival. While all in-person Hot Docs screenings were cancelled due to COVID-19, starting this week, more than 100 films will be available at hotdocs.ca. Diana and Richard have selected a couple of the best Canadian documentaries to share with you.

Softie (96 minutes)

When Kenyan documentary photographer Boniface “Softie” Mwangi realizes the images he’s been capturing of socio-economic injustice in his country need to translate into activism, he decides to run for local office. But his aspirations soon have him in the crosshairs of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s corrupt and brutal security state, forcing Softie to choose between challenging the untenable status quo and keeping his wife and children safe. Eight years in the making, director Sam Soko’s brave and charming film was tapped to open Hot Docs this year. In many ways, Softie is Influence’s sibling film. Produced by the same Montreal-based company, EyeSteelFilm, Softie portrays the harsh outcome of what the mechanics of geopolitical influence and interference mean for the democracy industrial complex.

Find out where to stream Softie on the Hot Docs website.

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Wintopia (89 minutes)

Peter Wintonick, one of Canada’s most beloved filmmakers, spent much of his career traveling the world’s film festivals and mentoring young documentarians before his death in 2013. He left his daughter Mira a boxful of hundreds of unedited tapes from a film project he had never managed to finish, called Utopia. To honour her father and finish his project, Mira began editing the footage, conducting phone interviews with friends, family and collaborators to better understand both the vision for the film and the man behind it. Wintopia is an unforgettably moving account of love and loss, processing a daughter’s grief at losing a father she didn’t fully know while paying homage to the wild and unique spirit of curiosity that was his legacy.

Find out where you can stream Wintopia on the Hot Docs website.


More Canadian-made documentaries to enjoy at home:
Dope is Death (78 minutes)

Canadian filmmaker Mia Donovan directs Dope is Death, another Hot Docs 2020 pick. It’s the story of how two American human rights groups, the Young Lords and Black Panther Party, led by Dr. Mutulu Shakur, combined community healthcare and grassroots politics in the early 70s to establish the first detox program in the United States to use acupuncture therapy. Established in response to Nixon’s insidious methadone maintenance programs, it was a radical and remarkably successful attempt at harm reduction for its time, spurring an activist healing movement in the South Bronx that is still relevant today.

Find out where you can stream Dope is Death on the Hot Docs website.

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