Just zipped up to Toronto this afternoon for the beginning of the incredible Hot Docs festival, one of my faves, never miss it. I always come away from this event having seen some really outstanding international nonfiction work, courtesy of the superb programming team led by Mr. Sean Farnel. I'm just trying to figure out how I'm going to see the thirty, or so, films on my must-see list before I leave and attend some conference sessions and go to all the lovely parties, including a picnic on Sunday afternoon (and many, many late nights drinking at Toronto's hottest clubs). You can take a gander here at some of what's on tap. Unfortunately, I will have to leave before the Toronto Documentary Forum begins (May 5 and 6), organized by the incredible Elizabeth Radshaw, but at least I got to go as an observer last year. (Film still from Thomas Balmès' Babies.)
I'm also thrilled to have been asked to host a panel discussion as part of the Conference & Market this year called Ripping Reality--Creativity and the New Documentary, the first conference session on Tuesday, May 4 at 11:00 a.m. I'll be joined by filmmakers, John Appel from the Netherlands, The Player; Pawel Lozinski from Poland, Chemo; Liz Mermin from the UK, Horses; and Ken Wardrop from Ireland, His & Hers. I highly recommend catching all of these superb films at the fest. We will have an hour-long discussion in the beautiful Vic College chapel (including showing clips from all the films) with a 15-minute audience Q&A to follow. Join us!
I'll also be participating in a new initiative this year called Leave the Walls at the Door, an interactive documentary think-tank workshop where roundtables of selected producers and media makers will discuss how to bring a documentary project to life interactively. We participants will be divided into "ideation" groups, each of which will collaboratively brainstorm on, well, on something--we won't know until we get there. (We were chosen
because we are all working on interactive reality-based projects.) The initiative is presented by the CFC Media Lab in conjunction with the Hot Docs Conference.
I will be filing several posts here and on the newly-refreshed Hammer to Nail site in coming days.
Meanwhile, in NYC, Hibakusha Stories and the Maysles Theater will co-present "Docs on Nukes: Nuclear Narrative Through the Art of Film," on Mother's Day, May 9. There will be a sneak preview screening of M.T. Silvia's Atomic Mom, a documentary about two mothers, one American and one Japanese, each of whom had very close encounters with the atomic bomb. Silvia is the daughter of one of these women and the film follows her quest for the truth about the work her mother did during nuclear testing in the desert of New Mexico. It's an incredibly moving and very personal film. Atomic Mom was the second installment in my Projects On the Brink series--you can read it here. (Which reminds me that I really would like to do another installment, so I'm taking suggestions of female-helmed nonfiction projects about to finish and launch into the world.)
Accompanying Silvia's film will be Kathy Sloane's 16-minute, Witness to Hiroshima, about Keiji Tsuchiya, an artist who uses his twelve powerful watercolors to recount his experiences in Hiroshima as a 17-year-old soldier when the atomic bomb was dropped. He relates those experiences to his subsequent life-long commitment to saving the Japanese horseshoe crab and its habitat. You can watch the trailer here. Silvia and Sloane, both San Francisco-based filmmakers, will be on hand for a post-screening discussion. Go to the Maysles Cinema site for more info.