2014 Hot Docs Preview: 12 Noteworthy Films at This Year’s Festival

hotdocs2014

The 2014 Hot Docs Film Festival is now officially underway in Toronto, which means it’s time for our annual plug and another friendly reminder to check out some great non-fiction films while you have the chance. I think we’ll be doing a bonus podcast like we did last year to review a handful of this year’s entries, but in the meantime I thought it would be useful to give you a little preview of what’s to come. I should note that I haven’t actually seen any of these films yet, but I’ve provided a quick summary of each and some trailers where possible. So what are you waiting for? Get a taste of this year’s Hot Docs line-up after the jump.

Art and Craft

This started as a Kickstarter project and has since been picked up for distribution by Oscilloscope Laboratories. The film follows one of the world’s most successful art forgers, Mark Landis, and seems to share some similar themes with Tim’s Vermeer. Directed by Jennifer Grausman (Pressure Cooker) and Sam Cullman (If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front).

Beyond Clueless

Another essay-style documentary similar to Room 237 that explores connections and themes present in over 200 coming-of-age teen movies. Narrated by Fairuza Balk.

Doc of the Dead

Director Alexandre O. Philippe (The People vs. George Lucas) takes another journey into fandom and pop culture by attempting to make the definitive documentary on zombies.

Giuseppe Makes a Movie

Examines the filmmaker career of Giuseppe Andrews, a former child actor turned fiercely independent director who makes no-budget movies. He runs a one-man studio working out of the trailer park where he grew up and uses his neighbours and other non-actors as his stars.

Harmontown

A tour documentary of sorts following Dan Harmon, creator of Community, as he takes his comedy podcast on the road. Directed by Neil Berkeley (Beauty Is Embarrassing).

An Honest Liar

Focuses on the controversial 85-year-old magician and escape artist The Amazing Randi, who is also known for debunking psychics and other scam artists.

The Immortalists

Two eccentric researchers take part in the scientific quest for immortality and debate the plethora of ethical issues that arise from it.

Kung Fu Elliott

Another making-of documentary in the vein of American Movie, this film follows Elliot “White Lightning” Scott, who is determined to become an action star with his low-budget karate flick, Blood Fight. Won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival.

The Sheik

A personal portrait of Khosrow Vaziri aka The Iron Sheik, one of the most memorable villains in World Wrestling Federation history. It traces his dark past, rise to stardom in the ’80s and his current struggles.

Super Duper Alice Cooper

At this point director Sam Dunn (Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey) has carved out an impressive career documenting rock and heavy metal legends on screen. This time he turns his camera on Alice Cooper, one of the most outrageous rock gods of them all.

To Be Takei

A look at Star Trek personality George Takei as he and his husband Brad prepare for a musical based on his childhood experiences in a WWII internment camp. The film covers his career, personal life, his advocacy for marriage equality and gay rights, and everything in between.

Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger

Before Johnny Depp plays ex-mobster and FBI informant Whitey Bulger in the upcoming Hollywood biopic, get the real story straight from the mouth of the man himself. Director Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost) covers the history and recent trial of Boston’s modern day Robin Hood, who was once on the FBI’s most wanted list for over a decade.

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  • Indianamcclain

    Looking forward to the James J. Bulger doc.

  • Matt the Kiwi

    Can’t wait to see ‘An Honest Liar’ – I just hope it’s as good as the trailer makes me think it is. Love to see “psychics” getting debunked.