Toronto on display at Hot Docs film festival
The children of 'Listen To This', a Toronto-based documentary screening at the 2010 Hot Docs Film Festival.
Bill Doskoch, ctvtoronto.ca
Published Thursday, April 29, 2010 7:54AM EDT
Some of Toronto will be on display at the Hot Docs festival, with topics ranging from the rock royalty of Rush to budding young hip-hop artists at Jane-Finch, waitressing and competitive eating.
Lynne Ferrie, who is in charge of Canadian programming for the annual documentary film festival that begins Thursday night, is particularly looking forward to "Listen to This," about a multicultural group of students in the tough Jane-Finch area learning to make music.
"It's all shot pretty much in the school and neighbourhood," she said. "It may be Toronto's future. It is a group of the most gorgeous, culturally diverse kids on the planet who are taking a music program, who are writing their own rap songs."
She describes the kids as "amazing. You just fall in love with them."
It also goes into their home lives somewhat, she said, adding, "It's just hilarious and moving."
The Toronto-based documentary team of Sam Dunn and Scott McFayden, responsible for films such as "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" and "Global Metal," have turned their cameras on Toronto's own Rush.
Their film is called "Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage." It traces the trio from their high school beginnings in the suburbs to superstardom.
"'Rush' is fantastic if you love seeing archival (footage) of Toronto," Ferrie said. "There's the best footage of Yorkville and the clubs and Yonge Street all throughout Rush's early history."
Ferrie admitted Rush isn't a personal favourite group of hers, but she came away with a new respect for and understanding of the band after seeing the film.
Toronto makes an appearance in the film "Dish: Women, Waitressing and the Art of Service," by director Maya Gallus. While it isn't all about Toronto, watch it and you'll find about a funky little diner on Richmond Street East, Ferrie said.
"The Story of Furious Pete" is by Toronto director George Tsioutsioulas. It's about Torontonian Peter Czerwinski's improbable journey from anorexia sufferer to world-class eating contest competitor.
"It follows (Pete) nationally as well as internationally, but it follows him into this little neighbourhood restaurant where he scarfs down six huge breakfasts," Ferrie said. "And (Pete) is the nicest guy."
A U.S. film, "A Different Path,' is about urban bicycling. It has a segment dealing with Toronto cycling activist, she said. Director Monteith McCollum met that person in Toronto two years ago while showing a film about milk, she said.
Not everything in the programming is fun or uplifting.
"In The Name of The Family" by the award-winning director Shelley Saywell deals with honour killings. Its GTA content is the 2007 murder of Mississauga teen Aqsa Parvez. Her father and older brother have been charged in connection with her death.
"There's a lot of the young school friends that Shelley talks to. They're not only talking about here and how she was caught between two cultures, but there's a number of young Afghan women shot in shadow … who are dealing with the same problem with their families," Ferrie said.
A film set in southern Ontario that promises to be one of the festival's highlights is "Life With Murder," by award-winning Toronto director John Kastner.
It's about a Chatham man convicted of killing his sister -- and how his family has stood beside him, she said.
While they might not have made Toronto-specific films, some Toronto documentary filmmakers have their work screening at the festival.
Julian Pinder has a film called "Land" about a group of American developers trying to turn a small corner of Nicaragua into a little Miami, Ferrie said. "It's hilarious. They're real characters."
David Ridgen's "American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein" has Toronto content. Finkelstein, a U.S. academic who specializes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has often lectured at the University of Toronto, she said.
Iranian-born Tara Khalili is showing her first film. It's a short, experimental work called "Even Flowers," which is about her grandfather's funeral.
Mike Holboom has an experimental film titled "Mark," about a young man who edited his films but committed suicides. The film is a portrait about how people felt about Mark.
Ryan J. Noth worked with cinematographer and director Peter Mettler, whose most recent film is the visually stunning "Petropolis," on the "National Parks Project."
"That's at the Drake Hotel. They're going to screen it on three screens and have live music with it," Ferrie said.
Unfortunately, Noth's film is sold out, she said.
For information on other Hot Docs screenings, go to the website or visit the box office at 55 Avenue Rd in the Hazelton Lanes complex a few blocks north of Bloor Street West.