Doc Blog

TIFF picks from Sean Farnel of Hot Docs
Sean Farnel was my esteemed predecessor as TIFF's doc programmer through the 2005 festival. Since then, he's been programming the Hot Docs festival in the spring. Last year he was out of town for most of TIFF. So this will be his first time enjoying the fest as a civilian. I asked him what he anticipates.

FARNEL: Of course I'm looking forward to seeing much of the doc programme (well, the ones I can squeeze in between Galas), but let me put in a little plug for a few of my Canadian compatriots, directors Guy Maddin (MY WINNIPEG), Peter Raymont (A PROMISE TO THE DEAD: THE EXILE JOURNEY OF ARIEL DORFMAN) and John Zaritsky (THE WILD HORSE REDEMPTION). You may be familiar with Peter, whose previous film SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL had an extensive festival run (I think it won an Audience Award at Sundance);  and this is John's second feature doc this year (he's too prolific, somebody stop him), following THE SUICIDE TOURIST which premiered at Hot Docs in April. As for Maddin, if I were to only see one film at TIFF, it would be MY WINNIPEG (pictured), though I'll be very disappointed if there's no mention of the now defunct Winnipeg Jets.

I like that Thom has opened up TIFF's Doc Talks to the public this year. The Q&A's at documentary screenings are generally quite vigorous and seemingly always too short, so obviously there's an appetite among the public audience for more extensive discussion about the films and the ideas they encompass. I'll be moderating the "Covering War" panel featuring Michael Tucker (GUNNER PALACE), who'll be showing clips from a new work-in-progress (THE BULLET-PROOF SALESMAN). But, as the panel already features an iconic moderator, Phil Donahue, I'm a bit nervous. Phil and Ellen Spiro co-directed one of the docs, BODY OF WAR, featured in the impressive Real To Reel slate.

Nick Fraser is consistently one of the most entertaining speakers in the doc industry. I think of him as the Christopher Hitchens of the doc circuit, a whip-smart, natural born contrarian. His Doc Talk about the Why Democracy? project should provide interesting insight into both the business and the politics of a hugely ambitious, labourius and sometimes contentious commissioning project.

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