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Hot Docs 2013: Five Capsule Reviews, including “The Crash Reel”

May 2, 2013

By John C.

Hot Docs 2013 PosterHot Docs started exactly a week ago today and closes on Sunday, but I am still discovering films that are absolutely worth seeing.  Yesterday I published my thoughts on Rent a Family Inc., Blood Brother, Brothers Hypnotic, The Great Hip Hop Hoax and Free the Mind.

Below are my capsule reviews of five more films, four of which have more screenings coming up.  Although The Crash Reel already finished its run at Hot Docs, the film is absolutely worth seeking out when it opens next fall or winter.  As always, you can get more information on the festival and purchase tickets right here.  Enjoy!

12 O’Clock Boys:  The title dirt bike gang in 12 O’Clock Boys gets their name for the way that they drive through the streets of Baltimore, popping wheelies that put their vehicles straight up in the air, with the police constantly on their trail.  Directed by Lotfy Nathan, the film follows Pug, a young teenager who dreams of joining the notorious street gang, even if it means sacrificing his education in the process.  With striking camerawork, including some awesome slow motion shots and an excellent soundtrack that drives the action, 12 O’Clock Boys is a captivating portrait of growing up in a rough neighbourhood where the ones with the dirt bikes run the streets.

Monday, April 29th – 8:15 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Wednesday, May 1st – 1:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Saturday, May 4th – 9:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Blood Relative:  Divya is a teen girl stuck in the body of a child, and Imran is a young man who still looks like a teenager.  They are just some of the many who suffer from thalassemia in India, a genetic disease that requires blood transfusions and iron chelation to stop the disorder from stunting their growth and leading to fatal illness.  Many don’t receive the healthcare that they need, because the government won’t fund the treatment, leaving them to rely on the kindhearted Vinay to help raise the funds through his small charity.  But even he is starting to run out of money, which provides some of the dramatic weight behind director Nimisha Mukerji’s film.  Although there are a few too many shots of needles going into the skin, Blood Relative is a thought provoking look at a genetic disease that can trap adults in the bodies of children.

Monday, April 29th – 9:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Wednesday, May 1st – 3:30 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre

Friday, May 3rd – 1:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Blackfish:  Back in 2011, a trainer was killed at Sea World, dragged underwater and mutilated by the whale she was working with.  What followed was a discussion that the park wasn’t ready to have, instead blaming the trainer for wearing a pony tail.  Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Blackfish uses the case as a jumping off point for the issue of capturing whales for entertainment in general, showing the unfairness of keeping the animals in captivity, which can drive them to a point where they turn on their trainers.  Although the film is sometimes a little conventional in its approach and use of interviews, the real life footage of the attacks is shocking.  With a story that will make you think twice before going to Marineland, Blackfish is a good documentary that asks important questions about the ethics of keeping whales in captivity.

Tuesday, April 30th – 7:00 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Thursday, May 2nd – 2:00 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Friday, May 3rd – 9:15 PM @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

The Crash Reel:  Right from the opening scenes of The Crash Reel, I immediately knew that the film would end up being one of my favourites at the festival, and I left the theatre completely blown away.  The film opens a few months before the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, as champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce is training to make the team.  But then tragedy strikes when he suffers a dangerous fall, and we are taken back in time to see his rise to fame, before witnessing his journey into his new life with a disability.  Directed by Lucy Walker, who received an Oscar nomination for the equally outstanding Waste Land a few years back, this is an incredibly well crafted film that touches on the dangers of extreme sports while offering a powerful message about self acceptance.  Exhilarating, moving and inspirational, The Crash Reel is everything that a great film should be.  See this movie.

Wednesday, May 1st – 6:45 PM @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Thursday, May 2nd – 5:00 PM @ Hart House Theatre

Quality Balls – The David Steinberg Story:  Growing up as a good Jewish boy in Winnipeg, David Steinberg went on to become one of the most influential stand up comedians in the late 1960s, inspiring everyone from Larry Charles to Larry David.  Throughout his career, the Canadian comedian become known for his witty sermons and a brilliant psychiatrist routine, having appeared on The Tonight Show with Jonny Carson numerous times and even getting The Smothers Brothers kicked off the network for including him as a guest.  Directed by Barry Avrich, Quality Balls – The David Steinberg Story is an enjoyable little film that is worth seeing for the archival footage of this iconic comedian.

Thursday, May 2nd – 9:30 PM @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Friday, May 3rd – 4:15 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre

Sunday, May 5th – 4:15 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

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