Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, returns to Toronto from April 27–May 7, offering over 200 feature-length and short documentaries in cinemas throughout downtown Toronto and streaming online nationwide from May 5–9, 2023. The festival presents films exploring critical current issues from Canada and around the world, offering free and public screenings as well as live Q&As with filmmakers and subjects.
Whether presenting expert commentary or crafting intimate portraits to illustrate broader political and sociocultural issues, documentaries can be an incredibly effective tool for education. Like all forms of media, documentaries are subjective; they are a means to spark rather than conclude conversations, and just as important to consider what’s being left out as it is to engage with the information and perspectives being included. Here are eleven films that offer progressive perspectives on global political history, contemporary issues, and activism.
From forced computer shutdowns to prevent overwork in South Korea to the Swedish six-week summer holiday, Kuwait’s constitutional provision granting all citizens an occupation to idle Italian NEETs, this documentary examines work’s role in shaping our lives and identities and contemplates a future without work.
How We Get Free
This short documentary follows the formerly incarcerated founder of the Colorado Freedom Fund Elisabeth Epps as she works to abolish cash bail in her state and put an end to the criminalization of poverty. How We Get Free is presented as part of the Persister Shorts Program, highlighting stories of women fighting indentured servitude, racism, misogyny, and femicide.
Money, Freedom, a Story of CFA Franc
Though independent since 1960, former French colonies in Africa still use the CFA franc, an enduring remnant of imperialism kept alive by economic incentives that infantilize countries. But as a new generation demands freedom, its days are numbered.
Non-Aligned: Scenes from the Labudovic Reels
Incredible never-before-seen footage shot by his dedicated cameraman explores the world of former Yugoslav President Tito— a communist revolutionary, turned statesman then strongman—zooming in on the political dreams of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War.
Someone Lives Here
During the pandemic, young Toronto carpenter Khaleel Seivwright builds life-saving shelters for unhoused people facing the winter outside. His actions attract international acclaim but also staunch opposition from the city government.
Tax Me If You Can
Global capital profits are hitting historic highs while austerity cuts are slashing social services budgets worldwide—so where is all the money going? Tax Me If You Can lays out exactly how multinationals, the ultra-rich 1 percent, and government high-flyers steal openly from national economies.
Four rejected asylum seekers re-enact their experiences of participating in Swiss asylum hearings, exposing the life-altering—and often dehumanizing—bureaucratic procedure that forces applicants to convince officials of their trauma.
Renowned Greenlandic Inuk lawyer Aaju Peter is a force of nature in her quest to bring her two colonizers, Canada and Denmark, to justice. The world premiere of Twice Colonized includes a Q&A with director Lin Alluna and special guests from the film.
We No Longer Prefer Mountains
This film offers a lucid and forceful examination of the Druze religious minority in occupied Palestine, giving space to elders who detail a history of both mistreatment and collaboration, while also taking the pulse of a younger generation increasingly eager to challenge their inherited position.
We Are Guardians
In this expansive character-driven exposé, Indigenous guardians of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil fight to protect their territories from the ravages of extractive industries, confronting deforestation by illegal loggers, corrupt politicians, and profit-hungry global corporations.
5 Seasons of Revolution
A young Syrian reporter recalls living through Arab Spring’s promise with her fellow video journalists and the unravelling of their relationships in its aftermath. Hidden cameras and stolen thoughts hold the space of what became of their dreams.
Hot Docs Film Festival is running in-person at Ted Rogers Cinema, Isabel Bader Theatre, Scotiabank Theatre, and the TIFF Bell Lightbox, with a curated selection of over 100 films available to stream online. Ticket prices vary ranging from free for public screenings to up to $26 each for Special Presentations. You can see the full lineup at hotdocs.ca.
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