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Border Town Strip Club Portrait “The Manor” Opens Hot Docs 2013

Far from stripped down, the massive 2013 edition will kick off with the world premiere of The Manor, a documentary by first-time Canadian director Shawney Cohen, about a Jewish family running a Guelph strip club. Growing in popularity and acclaim with each edition, the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival is one of North America’s most anticipated film festivals and a haven for lovers of great documentaries — its sold-out screenings and long line-ups attest to the festival’s ever-growing importance and impressive status. Yesterday, Hot Docs unveiled its full line-up (which runs April 25th to May 5th) of 205 official selections from 43 countries, chosen from over 2,300 submissions, with 44 World premieres.

If the subjects and titles are any indication, it promises to be yet another fascinating year in documentaries. 2012 was highly successful for the festival with 9 of its selections making up the 15 documentaries shortlisted for the Best Feature Documentary at the recent Academy Awards. This year’s Made In… program focuses on Polish documentaries. It is one of the most interesting sidebars of the festival which highlights films from a different country each year. La crème de la crème of recent festivals (Sundance, South by Southwest, IDFA, Berlinale) will be showcased. Among the Sundance titles is Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award winner, Steve Hooper’s Blood Brother, the director follows his friend who journeys to India to care for HIV-positive orphans; Best Directing award winner for World documentary, Tinatin Gurchiani’s The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear, an open casting call captures stories of modern-day Georgian youth via a series of auditions; Best Directing award winner for US documentary, Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer which chronicles a 40-year old creative relationship and love story between 2 Japanese artists living in New York; Special Jury award winner Maxim Pozdorovkin & Mike Lerner’s film of the headline-grabbing Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer (see pic above).

From SXSW is Grand Jury Prize winner, Ben Nabors’ William and the Windmill, a young Malawian boy who builds a windmill from junk to rescue his family from famine. From Berlinale there is Raoul Peck’s Fatal Assistance, a condemnation of Haiti’s failed post-earthquake relief effort; and Shaul Schwarz’s Narco Cultura which examines the musical culture that glamorizes violence of the Mexican drug wars. The Director’s spotlight this year is on two acclaimed filmmakers: Peter Mettler and Les Blank, both of whose selected works will be featured.

Among other eagerly anticipated documentaries are Lucy Walker’s The Crash Reel, a high adrenaline look at snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s fighting for his life; Roger Ross Williams’ God Loves Uganda, the film follows American Evangelical and Ugandan religious leaders fighting sexual immorality and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow biblical law; Freida Mock’s Anita, for the first time on film, Anita Hill speaks about her controversial testimony that brought sexual harassment into the spotlight; Bill Ross’ River, the story of friends and brothers setting sail on a hilarious adventure; Martha Shane & Lana Wilson’s After Tiller, a portrait of the only four remaining doctors willing to provide third-trimester abortions in the USA; Penny Lane’s Our Nixon, a revealing look at one of the most controversial presidencies in US history; Bassam Tariq & Omar Mullick’s These Birds Walk, a tender portrait of a children’s shelter in Karachi, a rare safe-haven for runaways; Gus Holwerda’s The Unbelievers, chronicling renowned scientists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss advancing the importance of science and reason; Kim Longinotto’s Salma, locked in her home for 25 years, a Tamil woman achieves overnight success for a book of poetry illuminating the struggle for independence in a repressive village; Zhu Yu’s Cloudy Mountains, a father and son working in the toxic cloudy mountains of Western China; James Leong and Lynn Lee’s The Great North Korean Picture Show, a rare glimpse into North Korea’s only film school.

With an amalgam of brand new films and recent hits from the festival circuit, Hot Docs 2013 promises a bountiful harvest of exciting documentaries and is a must-attend event – and will be there to cover the festival. Visit for full details on films, show times and tickets.

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