Hot Docs: Highlights from North America's Biggest Documentary Film Festival

Hot Docs is the young stud of Toronto film events. Just eighteen years old, it’s already the biggest documentary film festival in North America. I had a press pass and spent ten days watching movies about Mexican drug-war killings and the healing power of dolphins amidst rapt audiences who really hated it when you came in late or wrestled with the packaging on your granola bar. Here is some of what I saw.

Grinders dir. Matt Gallagher (Canada)

This film is about grinders – people who play illegal poker for a living – in Toronto, which director Matt Gallagher makes look like a Soviet coal town (disclosure: that’s not that hard). Main character Danny spends most of his screen time drinking, mumbling about his baby girls, and passing out in front of online poker games in lonely Vegas hotel rooms. Main character Andre lives with his parents and likes t-shirts emblazoned with cartoon characters acting gangster. Secondary character Lawrence is a put-upon immigrant whose landlord is extorting him for the money he makes running his “social club.” Bleak stuff! But Gallagher has a fine sense of the ridiculous, and includes many wonderful slow-motion shots of Elvises gyrating against a Nevada desert sky. If only he’d refrained from making cringing poker-related pronouncements on the human condition, this could have been a great movie.


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  • Michael Koh

    Cool trailers bro

  • scin

    love toronto stuff on this site!

  • Erin Pehlivan

    Wow, very impressed to see Hot Docs coverage on Thought Catalog. It's all I read when I worked at the box office this year. Two worlds collide! I definitely agree with choosing RESURRECT DEAD as a highlight. You must see POSITION AMONG THE STARS though, it is probably one of my favourite documentaries of all time. Those were two of my favourites this year. I saw 45 docs in total. Thanks for the coverage!

  • Asdf

    it manages to be boring. all of it. go figure.

    • Alyssa Johnston

      Yeah totally. Fuck everything. The world is so passe.

  • Dan

    lol about it not being hard to make toronto look like a soviet coal town, it does have a high Russian immigrant population actually.

  • adamhump

    thanks for this katie :)

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