Hot Docs, one of the world’s leading documentary festivals, has unveiled its full lineup. The event, which runs online from April 29-May 9, will present 219 films from 66 countries across 12 programs, with 50% of the directors in the program being women.
The opening film will be “A.rtificial I.mmortality,” in which director Ann Shin poses the question: If you could live forever through AI, would you? Facing the reality of death as her father suffers from dementia in his old age, the filmmaker investigates the world of digital cloning through AI. After conversations on the process with leading experts in the field, she digitizes her memories and uploads them into a newly created avatar of herself, preserving her personality and identity in digital form forever. The film features commentary from Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom, director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University Hiroshi Ishiguro, artificial intelligence researcher Ben Goertzel, and mindfulness guru Deepak Chopra.
“This year’s opening night film speaks to the moment we’re living in, but also to a brave new world that awaits us,” Shane Smith, Hot Docs’ director of programming, said.
The Special Presentations program includes the world premieres of “Wuhan Wuhan,” in which Yung Chang teams up with a group of filmmakers as they capture life in the Chinese city during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic; “The Death of My Two Fathers,” a contemplation of race, death and the importance of family inspired by videos the filmmaker watches that were recorded by his terminally ill father; “The Taste of Desire,” a philosophical and poetic trip around the world that uses oysters as a metaphor to explore humanity’s relationship with nature and desire; “Dirty Tricks,” a dive into the cutthroat world of competitive bridge playing, and the scandal that erupts after the world’s top player is accused of cheating; “Come Back Anytime,” a doc about self-taught Japanese ramen master, Masamoto Ueda; and “Viral,” which shows us COVID-19’s impact on today’s youth through the social media posts of seven young people.
In the competitive International Spectrum program, notable films include the world premieres of “Any Given Day,” an exploration of the stigma of mental illness told through the stories of three defendants in Cook County Mental Health Court’s probation program; “Magaluf Ghost Town,” about how the residents of a small, quiet Spanish town cope with the influx of tourists who flock to their low cost haven each summer; “The Silence of the Mole,” the story of a journalist who infiltrated Guatemala’s repressive government in the 1970s to expose the truths behind its violence and oppression; “Four Seasons in One Day,” where passengers on the ferry that runs between U.K. province Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland express their opinions about Brexit and the border; “Songs That Flood to the River,” the tale of a woman who uses the melodies of funeral chants she learned as a child to write songs with lyrics that tell the horrors of war; and “Gaucho Americano,” a lighthearted tale of clashing cultures that see two Chilean gauchos of different generations pursue their cowboy dreams on an Idaho ranch.
In the World Showcase program, notable films include the world premieres of “Sunny,” which follows a social worker in Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi who goes door-to-door asking controversial questions about sexuality, minority rights and nationalism; “Neighboring Moon,” a coming-of-age story in which two teenage girls take refuge with their mother in a cramped Aleppo hospital through the war and the ongoing pandemic; “Blue Box,” which explores the myth and legacy of Israel’s blue boxes, a global fundraiser set up by the Jewish National Fund to acquire the historic land of Israel; “My Mohamed Is Different,” about retired European women who flock to Egypt in search of younger men, blurring the boundaries between romantic and business affairs; “Only I Can Hear,” in which the children of deaf parents come together in a world that favors the spoken word to share their struggles and joys; and “The Colonel’s Stray Dogs,” in which the director looks back on his father’s dangerous life as a political exile from Gaddafi’s Libya.
“Documentaries are vitally important to helping us understand the world we live in, and to build bridges of understanding across cultural, social and political divides, particularly at this unprecedented moment in time,” Smith said. “This year’s Hot Docs program features the best in outspoken, outstanding documentary storytelling from 66 countries, all of which will connect us to each other in ways that inspire, inform and illuminate.”
The full program can be found here.
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