HOTDOCS19 REVIEW: Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man [2019]

“Turning poop culture into pop culture” This statistic says it all: 40% of citizens on Earth don’t have toilets. A big part of that number is India and China, but it’s still insane to comprehend as someone from a country that won’t allow homes or businesses to be built without one. It’s the type of problem you’d assume tops every nation’s to-do list and yet most cases have it found at the very bottom. Why? Because change isn’t easy. If your family has practiced open-air defecation for generations, why stop?…

Read More

HOTDOCS19 REVIEW: Willie [2019]

“I’m not done” It was 2003 before a Black hockey player had the honor of being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. That player was Grant Fuhr, the Stanley Cup winning goalie of the Edmonton Oilers and multiple other teams (including a short stint with my hometown Buffalo Sabres). Because he was far from the first Black player in the league, however, you wouldn’t be faulted for wondering why the man with that unique distinction hadn’t already been enshrined. The reason was simple: Willie O’Ree only played forty-five games…

Read More

HOTDOCS16 REVIEW: Hotel Dallas [2016]

“What time spits back, history devours and fatten itself on what we lack” Despite the name Hotel Dallas and general premise surrounding a replica of Southfork Ranch (where both the old and new “Dallas” series were filmed) built in Romania by an aspiring capitalist, husband and wife directing duo Sherng-Lee Huang and Livia Ungur‘s film is really about a country crippled under its past that’s still unsure of its future. It’s about art and its ability to speak to people’s hearts and souls whether seeking to do so or not.…

Read More

HOTDOCS13 REVIEW: Free the Mind [2013]

“We can suffer less if we take responsibility for our own minds” As Richard Davidson states in Phie Ambo‘s documentary Free the Mind, the human brain is the most complex creation in the universe. Here is an organic super computer that handles everything we do, feel, think, and dream and yet we’ve constructed a myth positing how we only use about twenty percent of its grey matter. But while such a baseless statistic may be false, scientists such as Davidson are starting to ask the question of whether or not…

Read More

HOTDOCS13 REVIEW: The Ghosts in Our Machine [2013]

“Leaving is the reason that I’m haunted” We are carnivores. That’s a proven fact, right? Where a moral code of honor in our interactions with animals existed at one point—and still does in some cultures—the present slaughter of animals for human consumption has become a business. It used to be we made sure to use every last bit of our furry prey so as to ensure its death was not wasted. We’d eat its meat, capture warmth from its pelt, and shape tools out of its bones. Animals were sustenance…

Read More

HOTDOCS13 REVIEW: ALIAS [2013]

“Every kid has dreams. But then you get reality.” Holding onto hope for a better life to strengthen each subsequent generation so one day his ancestors won’t be forced to hustle on the street, Alkatraz strives to achieve a future through his music. Raising his daughter on one hand and doing what he “has to do” on the other, this father is dreaming of a way out. No longer rapping about gunplay or petty beefs with friends turned foes around the east side of Toronto, Alkatraz realizes it’s time to…

Read More

HOTDOCS13 REVIEW: Tales From the Organ Trade [2013]

“In some countries you can pick up a kidney for the price of a laptop” With a name like Tales from the Organ Trade and its interesting casting selection of body horror maestro David Cronenberg as its narrator, I’m not sure one could blame me for expecting gruesome, unsanitary, back alley surgeons assisted by frightfully personalized scalpel sets straight out of Dead Ringers‘ repertoire. Doesn’t the logline—“A look into the underground world of trafficking human body parts”—conjure images of shady black market employees traveling the world with an Igloo cooler…

Read More