Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hot Docs Festival Showcases Social Health Issues

Toronto will soon be exploding with documentaries from all over the world thanks to Hot Docs, the annual Canadian International Film Festival.

I am very excited to attend, as I am a big documentary buff. I haven't been to the festival since 2007, when I volunteered and saw some films.

I received my Hot Docs Screening Guide in the mail today and my, there are so many great docs to choose from! Here are some that I intend to see:

Smoke Traders - Mohawk people share their perspective of their lucrative, endangered cigarette industry.

Fighting Back - Four children fight the devastating odds that they will survive leukemia.

Ask a Silly Question - The issues in the polling and market research industry are examined.

Call Me Kuchu -  A Ugandan activist fights an anti-homosexuality bill.

The Kid and the Clown - A child in the hospital fights cancer as the therapeutic clown helps him cope with his treatments.

Made in China - Meet garment workers in China.

Off Label - Personal stories about Big Pharma are told.

Welcome to the Machine - The complexities of humans' relationship with machines are explored from the perspective of experts and a father whose newborn triplets fight for life.

Her Master's Voice - A comedian-ventriloquist carries on her teacher's legacy with his collection of dummies along for the ride.

I've taken a break from trying to work out when I will see these films, as some screen times overlap or don't give me enough time to get from theatre to theatre or I'd have to wait too long between some of them. So instead tonight, I'm pondering how I chose these documentaries to see.

It has occurred to me that all of these documentaries are, at least to some extent, about what I am most passionate about learning and writing about: social health issues. This interest stems from my university career.  I studied the problems of the pharmaceutical industry, the health consequences of being a minority and the broad perspectives of health as more than the absence of disease.

Some of these documentaries also interest me very personally. I can identify with the philosophies explored in Welcome to the Machine as I've had a plastic tube, a shunt, in my body for my entire life. Her Master's Voice will give me a greater understanding of the therapeutic clowns I met and observed with children during the year I volunteered at the Hospital for Sick Children.

I anticipate that I will cry during some of these documentaries and take notes furiously during all of them: the student/journalist in me. I am so glad that a festival like Hot Docs exists to project the voices in these important stories. The documentary is a powerful medium.

Hot Docs will take place on April 26 - May 6, 2012 in Toronto.

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