I learned about Hot Docs several years ago and knew it sounded promising. Unfortunately, I never got around to actually attending the festival. This year, I finally made a point of reading up on and scheduling around the Hot Docs festival. I purchased a Festival Pass ($98 gets you 10 tickets and entry to any late-night screening, and those making the purchase as an Early Bird receive 2 bonus tickets). Happily, these passes can be shared, and I gave away half of the tickets as a gift.
Earlier this week, I attended my first Hot Doc film. The film Mothers of Bedford by director Jenifer McShane looks at how relationships are formed between incarcerated women and their children. The focus is on a maximum security women’s prison in New York with a well-developed children’s Centre and on five mothers who are serving sentences from two years to life. The film was fascinating and sensitive, and its first Hot Docs screening was also its world premiere. As is not uncommon in Hot Docs, the filmmaker was in attendance to answer the audience’s many questions, and also kindly made herself available afterwards for interested audience members. It was even more fortunate that a key speaker in the film, former longtime Head of the Bedford Hill Correctional Facility’s Childrens’ Center Bobby Blanchard, was also in attendance for the screening. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet people doing such important work. I can’t believe I had never attended Hot Docs before!
I have also purchased tickets for Blood in the Mobile (director Frank Piasecki Poulsen), a film on the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and its relationship with the cell phone industry, and The Bully Project (director Lee Hirsch), a film on the frequency and severity of bullying in American high schools. I am very excited to have these opportunities to learn more about such important subjects in our world, and to be able to meet some of the determined filmmakers that put these projects together.
All photos courtesy of Hot Docs and Joseph Michael.