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

Mama Africa dir. Mika Kaurismäki (Finland, Germany, South Africa)

The late South African singer and anti-apartheid activist Miriam Makeba, known as Mama Africa, died just before Mika Kaurismäki, who grew up listening to her songs on Finnish radio, could start this film. The film is a love letter to his lost Mama A. Through expertly remastered archival footage and interviews with Makeba’s family and former band members, she is drawn as the greatest role model in the world: a brilliant talent, a hero of the pan-African movement, an influence on virtually every South African singer who followed her, and a treasure to all who knew her. (Admittedly, only one of her five husbands is interviewed.) None of my friends wanted to come see this with me because Superheroes was playing the same night, and that movie is about civilians who dress in costume and fight crime, but they missed out! Not only is this a great movie (bring the young impressionable girls in your family), it screened with a short about Celine Dion fans in Kenya, which featured shots of giraffes and elephants striding over the plains to “The Power of Love.”


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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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