Hot Docs, The Canadian International Documentary Festival held annually in Toronto kicks off April 26-May 6. Opening the festival is Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry (USA/China) following China’s most renowned artist and activist.
Special this year is the addition of the newly renovated Bloor Cinema as the official Hot Docs venue. The iconic revue theatre in downtown Toronto has been given an internal facelift with new upholstery and sound system. See some other documentaries reviewed for 8Asians after the jump including Lady Wrestlers, Ventriloquists, Senior Ping Pong competitors and much more.
GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (USA)
At the height of its television in the late 80s and 90s, GLOW was abruptly cancelled. 20 years later where are all the heroines and villains that were cheered and jeered weekly? Surprisingly touching and often funny, you’ll want to root for these ladies.
(Writer’s note: I vaguely remember this show growing up, but was reminded of the Divas of WWE, Trish Stratus, Gail Kim and Lita.)
His Master’s Voice (UK)
When her mentor and friend Ken Campbell passes away, Ventriloquist Nina Conti inherits all of his puppets and notes and travels with her companion Monkey to the World Ventriloquist Convention in Kentucky to donate one of them in his honour to the Vent Haven Museum. Throughout the journey she questions whether or not she wants to continue with her craft and ultimately say goodbye to Monkey. An honest look at both the craft as an artform and the relationship the master has with their dummy (or dummies). (Writer’s note: It’s a bit creepy, yet incredibly interesting from a psychological perspective. It’s almost as if the ventriloquist is having an outside conversation with themselves.)
China Heavyweight (CHINA/ CANADA)
Banned for decades in China for being too violent, CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT follows a boxing coach as he recruits and trains hopefuls from his poor rural town and lead them to become champions.
The World Before her (CANADA/ GERMANY/ USA/ UK)
Paralleling military training in a small town in India against a beauty pageant in bombay, THE WORLD BEFORE HER is a jarring look at what modern and traditional women in India have to look forward to in their future and what sacrifices they have to make to secure their future.
My Thai Bride (Australia)
Salesman Ted Rees meets Tip in a bar while on business in Bangkok where the two hit it off and eventually get married. Ted relocates his entire life to Thailand’s countryside where he builds a house and farm all in Tip’s name because foreigners are not allowed to own property. Over time Ted starts to feel his presence unwelcomed eventually having to leave the farm with nothing and bargain with Tip over the control of his finances. (Writer’s note: Eventhough Ted can see himself falling into a trap right from the beginning, I honestly feel really bad for the guy.)
Ping Pong (UK)
Seniors from around the world compete at the World Table Tennis Championships in Mongolia. Eight players offer their inspiring tales as they train for battle. Stories of will and determination that fuel their passion are touching, moving and often funny. (Writer’s note: Suddenly, I feel really lazy and useless.)