Hot Docs 2009 Picks

Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival

The 2009 Hot Docs International Documentary Festival starts next week in Toronto. Showcasing the best in documentary filmmaking from Canada and around the world, Hot Docs is playing some truly great stuff this year. Dork Shelf has compiled a list of the films that we’re planning to see at this years festival and the picks are suitably dorky. These are merely our humble picks, Hot Docs is playing even more amazing documentary films and we encourage you to check out the full Hot Docs Film Fest Schedule.

Dork Shelf’s Hot Docs 2009 Picks after the jump.

Action Boys

A co-presentation of Hot Docs and the Reel Asian Film Fest, Action Boys offers a candid look behind-the-scenes of the Korean action film business.  The film follows Jung Byung-Gil, an aspiring stunt man as he trains at the punishing Seoul Action School.  The South Korean action movies have really come into their own in the past decade, this film looks like it will provide an interesting and painful window into just what it takes to translate the wirework and high kicks of the stunt men into silver screen gold.

Action Boys @ Hot Docs

Zombie Girl: The Movie

Co-presented by Hot Docs, Toronto After Dark Fim Fest and Rue Morgue, Zombie Girl traces the journey of teenage filmmaker Emily Hagins as she attempts to make a feature length zombie movie.  Capturing the trials and tribulations of low-budget filmmaking, Zombie Girl looks like a hilarious tween version of American Movie.  Nothing is scarier than zombiefied children.

Zombie Girl: The Movie @ Hot Docs



Ascension is crazed blend of archival footage from all over the world, primarily made up of previously unseen footage from the Soviet space program.  I love obscure archival footage and when edited together into a movie it can result in an amazing film experience.  The trailer for Ascension is intriguing and that’s enough to sell me on it.

Ascension @ Hot Docs

Best Worst Movie


A co-presentation of Hot Docs and Toronto After Dark Film Fest, Best Worst Movie explores the origins and culture surrounding one of the worst movies ever made: Troll 2.  Made for nearly no money by Italian filmmakers in a small Utah town, Troll 2 is a truly a terrible movie.  Best Worst Movie was made as an attempt by Michael Paul Stephenson to reconcile the fact that he starred in Troll 2 as a child some 20 years ago; and if you’ve seen the movie then you know how traumatizing that would have been.  Stephenson tracks down the other Troll 2 actors and director to discuss the film, and ultimately examines why Troll 2 has become such a huge cult hit.  If the source material is any indication then Best Worst Movie should be highly entertaining.  I still say Samurai Cop is the best-worst-movie ever, but watch Troll 2 if you get a chance and I promise you will not regret it.

Best Worst Movie @ Hot Docs


Co-presented by Hot Docs and the Toronto Freedom Festival is Ron Mann‘s 1999 film Grass.  Narrated by Woody Harrelson, Grass chronicles the history of the US government’s war on marijuana in the 20th century.  I hear nothing but good things about this documentary and it seems even more prescient than ever given the current discussion on marijuana laws in the United States.  Grass is part of Hot Docs Ron Mann retrospective which will be kicked off by the free screening Comic Book Confidential on May 2nd.


Grass @ Hot Docs


Presented by Hot Docs and The Design Exchange.  If you have even a passing interest in technology or design then you must see Objectified.  The film features numerous interviews with the brilliant designers who have crafted the objects you use in your every day life.  Objectified is an ode to the little things we take for granted and gives us a glimpse at some of the “stuff” that designers have in store for us in the future.

Objectified @ Hot Docs



What can be said about Mike Tyson that hasn’t already been said?  Always a figure of great controversy, the documentary Tyson features Iron Mike in his own words.  The film has been well received at other film festivals and critics seem to love it.  I’m intrigued by Tyson; the man and the movie, for all the amazing and horrible things he’s done in his life, we still don’t really know much about him.  Mike Tyson is an enigma; beyond the hype and the crimes, this documentary seems to finally shed some light on him… whether we like it or not.

Tyson @ Hot Docs

We Live in Public

We Live in Public traces the exploits of one Josh Harris, “the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of“.  It was the Dot-Com boom of the 1990’s and Harris was considered by many to be something of an artist and tech-evangelist.   Combining performance art and internet voyeurism in ways that had never been conceived; one which included a Big Brother-style setup which streamed his entire life onto the internet, Harris’s ambitious projects eventually led to his downfall.  I had never heard of Harris, but after seeing the trailer for We Live in Public I am very much looking forward to this film.

We Live in Public @ Hot Docs

Winnebago Man

Please note that the above clip is not the trailer for the film, but merely the video which was the basis for the documentary.  The clip is of Jack Rebney: The Winnebago Man, whose zany RV commercial outtakes became internet fodder last year.  Winnebago Man examines the impact of overnight YouTube stardom on the man himself; Jack Rebney, and delves even deeper by trying to find out just why he was so angry.

Winnebago Man @ Hot Docs

Another Perfect World

Exploring the relationship between the real world and virtual worlds; Another Perfect World takes viewers on a journey into the multiplayer games World of Warcraft, EVE Online, Lineage and Second LifeAnother Perfect World shows how the actions of the players in-game effect these virtual worlds and how they are more similar to our own reality than we’d like to think.  As a veteran of several massively multiplayer role playing games, including EVE Online, I’m interested to see just what this documentary has to say about them.  If you’ve ever played any of these games, I recommend checking this one out.

Another Perfect World @ Hot Docs