One of my favourite festivals in Toronto is HotDocs. It’s film festival that showcases some of the best documentaries from Canada and around the world. Oh, and it’s half the price of TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and half the hassle. Of course, George Clooney is unlikely to show up for HotDocs but I’m too snooty to stalk celebrities anyways.
Another awesome thing about HotDocs is that students and seniors get in free before 6 p.m. screenings. So I got hooked when I was in university. This year’s HotDocs took place from April 26 to May 6.
Here are the docs I saw and what I thought:
The Final Member
The Final Member features an Icelandic man, Siggi, and his collection of penises (peni?). It seems creepy until you realize he merely collects them as a study in anthropology. As he puts it, “There’s nothing pornographic about it”. Siggi has penises from all over the animal kingdom, from field mice to sperm whales but he’s missing “The Final Member” – a human penis.
The doc turns super creepy when an American becomes hellbent on getting his penis in the gallery before anyone else, even if it means he must get it removed before he’s dead. This American is very, very creepy indeed. The doc is interesting but moved a little too slow to my liking.
We’ve all been on job interviews but The Job features a job interview from hell. A number of candidates are forced to complete a number of absurd activities to prove they are person for the job. But they are told almost nothing about the position they are applying for. The first activity involves candidates trying to sell another candidate as the one best qualified for a job they know nothing about. At one point, most of the candidates are eliminated and subsequently asked to speculate as to why they’ve been eliminated.
It’s absurd and according to the director, it’s real. This company in France takes great pride in their interview methods, or should I say psychological torture. What’s more, the candidates learn at the end that the job pays minimum wage. Ouch.
Interesting doc but I found it too long and treacherous considering the entire film was talking heads.
I saved my favourite for last. The Ambassador is like a Borat movie – only funnier because it’s real. And even sadder because it’s real. Danish journalist Mads Brunner buys a Liberian diplomatic passport on a quest to acquire blood diamonds from the Central Republic of Africa. “If Congo was the Heart of Darkness, the Central Republic of Africa is the appendage,” he says.
On his hilarious escapades while trying to acquire blood diamonds, he meets a number of other so-called diplomats on roughly the same path. They even offer themselves as mentors! This is, of course, a satire on the situation around blood diamonds. The Central Republic of Africa has all of the world’s most valuable resources (diamonds, uranium, oil) and yet, has managed to keep none of the wealth for itself. Mads shows just how easy it is to exploit a country and how it takes place every day.