The Parking Lot Movie

HOT DOCS! Day 8

I'm writing this blog from a computer in the Delegate Lounge at the Rogers Industry Centre (U of T campus).  The festival is winding down but there's definitely many people still buzzing about here.  The Rogers Industry Centre houses all of the main industry panels, the Doc Shop, and more (plus free coffee and David's Tea!!!!!!).Day 8 was probably one of my favourite days at Hot Docs.

It began with a TDF visit at the Royal Conservatory of Music.  TDF (The Documentary Forum) is an event where people with projects apply to pitch in front of a large panel (I think about 20-30 people) made up of all the heavy-hitting documentary industry players.  It makes up a wide-range of platforms and broadcasters/networks/etc.. including CBC, CBC radio, PBS, TVO, NHK (Japan), Sundance Channel, and so many more.  The production teams are selected and have a short amount of time to pitch their project, and also express what they're looking for (pre-sale, 30% funding, etc..).  The industry members interested in the project will express so, and those who are called upon for their opinion, who are not interested, express so as well.  It ranges from, "We'd love to talk more" to "Send us a rough cut" (which seems like code for passing, but there's hope down the road).  Every pitch was pretty successful, and I was impressed by how positive an experience TDF seemed to be for.  It'd definitely good for putting your project out there and getting honest opinions from key industry people about their interest.  I had built up TDF as an intimidating and scary experience, but it wasn't at all and I'm glad to have been able to witness it.

Then it was off to the Victoria College chapel to visit a panel on The Poetics of Online Documentary.  It was interesting, and featured people who worked on interactive components to films or television projects, or online documentary.  It's definitely the direction the industry is going, but I feel like so many details are still up in the air.  I think next year this panel will be even more enlightening, and who knows where we'll be next year in terms of the online world and documentary.

The DOC U group gathered back at our base camp and had a chance to essentially pitch and workshop our project with Gerry Flahive, Bob Culbert, and Michael Claydon.  We got into groups, and my group was with Michael Claydon, and commissioning editor at CBC for Doc Zone.  I knew my film was more festival oriented, as my next project will be another personal documentary, but it was really interested to hear what a television-oriented industry member thought about my project.  The advice was really great and I found Michael to be extremely supportive of all our ideas, handing us some great constructive criticism that I know I'll definitely use and keep in mind.

I was pretty exhausted after this day but went to the Rooftop screening event, featuring The Parking Lot Movie.  The film was awesome!!!  I definitely recommend it.  And the fact that we watched it on a rooftop parking lot....GOLD.  The film was hilarious, but also opened up contemplative discussion on the service industry, and the effects it has had on our society.

Afterwards, I went off to bed in a bittersweet state, knowing Friday would be my last day in DOC U at Hot Docs, but excited as I feel like this week has really motivated me and I can't wait to get back to my film and other projects. :D

HOT DOCS! Day 5 and 6

The days are started to blur together, and I'm sadly started to see less and less films everyday.  I think my energy is starting to wear down from insane to logical, which is good because otherwise I'd wear myself out!

DAY 5

I decided not to see some films today that I had planned to see since we had an early morning.  At DOC U, we were visited by director Kevin McMahon (of films like Waterlife) and later by Life With Murder producer Deborah Parks.  Both were amazing and gave terrific insight into the industry.

We rushed off to The Devil Operation screening, preceded by the short We Are. I loved We Are, short but sweet, and the narration was what I think was a poem being whispered, which added a great effect.  It was a good film but there were some choices in it that I didn't particularly like.  It was the one film I've seen so far that had an obvious slant, but in a good way of course since it's based on a community in Peru who is protesting a mining company.  However, I reminded myself that the filmmaker is part activist as well, who we learned later (on Day 6) had no formal filmmaking training.  Her film definitely stands on its own, and it highlights some extremely important issues, so overall it was very good!

I then went home and changed since it was so humid!  I'm not complaining, but the heavy jeans were doing me in.  What is with the wind in Toronto though?!  Non-stop wind, everyday.  It's terrible for biking.

I headed on over to Regretters, with the short Nobody Passes Perfectly.  Both were amazing films.  The short was a beautiful and moving film on trans-men, told through intimate conversations between friends, with brief glimpses into their lives.  The longer film, Regretters, deserves huge applause!  The film was touching but also had some great funny moments.  It's a conversation between two men, both who underwent sex-change operations to become women but regretted it.  One changed back, and the other is about to.  The discussion they have is so wonderful and I immensely enjoyed this film.  I cannot say enough about both of them.  Regretters will be at the Inside Out film festival this year, that takes place in Toronto from May 20-30).

Then off to join Nicole at Congo in Four Acts.  It was really great, featuring four unique films that focus on different stories from areas in Congo.  One film is about a maternity ward at a hospital, another film is about the living conditions of some people in a particular village I unfortunately don't remember the name of, another focused on a police woman dealing with local issues but especially crimes against women, and the last featured a grandmother and grandchild struggling and working so immensely hard to survive.  The producer was at the screening and mentioned that Congo has no film school, and so he works with people to educate them on film and documentary, and so these four films were put together and have done really well.

I was going to rush to see The Parking Lot Movie but knew I had an early morning and decided to go home, which was a good decision especially since seeing Congo in Four Acts, a film that begs for after-discussion.

DAY 6

DOC U started off later in the day, which left me some time to garden with Matt! (pics coming soon!).  We were visited by Stephanie Boyd, the director of The Devil Operation, and she gave some great insight into being an activist and making films (especially, as I mentioned above, since she had no formal film training).

Next we were visited by the crew from Life With Murder, John Kastner (director), John Westheuser (DOP), and Greg West (editor).  They were a wonderful example of collaborations gone right, and have worked with each other for many years.  Their talk revealed many interesting things about making this particular film that I found myself appreciating it more than I had previously.  I underestimated how much information John Kastner ended up being privileged to, although it was not by accident as he is a skilled director.

Off I ran to the film 12th & Delaware, from the filmmakers who brought us Jesus Camp (which I still haven't seen!).  It was a film reveals through its verite style that tension that exists when a pro-life center opens its doors directly across from an abortion center.  I thought the film was really well done.  A few Hot Docs ago I went to see an abortion themed film, and it was so horribly slanted by the end that I walked out in disgust.  12 & Delaware let the subjects speak for themselves and depicted the issues fairly without being sensational.  It was a very moving film even though it did bring some heaviness to the day.

So off I went home so chill for a bit, decided whether or not I would try to see Marwencol (with Peter in Radioland) and then The People vs. George Lucas or not.  I decided against it knowing that we have an early start on Wednesday, but made a quick stopover to my 2nd Hot Docs party at Steam Whistle!

I couldn't get over the smell of the brewery thought...phew!  But they had free Steam Whistle and POUTINE!  Made the whole trip worth it, especially since I forgot my bike lock keys (D'oh!).  Thank you Jules for stowing my bike in your car!

Off to watch LOST now....I hear it's a heavy episode.  Oh yeah, television.  I remember you.