HOTDOCS20 REVIEW: Two Gods [2020]

That’s when I realized it was time for a change. Some are lucky enough to escape their circumstances. Others learn from those circumstances and discover ways to transform them and themselves in order to move forward and leave them behind. And then there are those whose circumstances defeat them whether or not they actively participate in that self-destruction or not. These are the three choices one has when confronted with the struggles of poverty, systemic racism, violence, and the psychological duress experienced as a result. Hanif Muhammad knows it all…

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HOTDOCS20 REVIEW: Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles [2020]

Why am I getting an email from the Met? The choice of “medium” was easy for renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi when asked by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to collaborate on their upcoming 2018 exhibition entitled Visitors to Versailles (1682-1789). Whether or not Marie Antoinette actually said the infamous line with which she’ll forever be entangled, the excessive decadence and bloody decline of the Château de Versailles as royal court cannot escape its confectionary marriage with cake. So Ottolenghi set his sights on selecting five of the most innovative and…

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HOTDOCS20 REVIEW: Finding Sally [2020]

The promise and the agony. It wasn’t until her early thirties that Tamara Mariam Dawit first discovered her father had a fifth sister named Selamawit. When she broached the subject with the other four (as well as her grandmother Tsehai), no one wanted to talk. This was the reason she moved to Ethiopia from Canada, though: to learn about her African heritage. And Aunt Sally wasn’t simply a throwaway piece of that considering the circumstances surrounding both her absence from the family and her eventual disappearance underground as part of…

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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.…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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