Events / HOT DOCS

Philip's Hot Docs Top 5

25 April 2018 / by Philip Zave Wiseman (author)
Maj Doris - playing at Hot Docs (photo: Hot Docs 2018)
Maj Doris - playing at Hot Docs / (photo: Hot Docs 2018)

Hot Docs 2018 kicks off on Thursday, April 26. Here's Philip's Top 5 films to catch at this year's festival. 


Maj Doris

Maj Doris follows the 74-year-old legendary Sámi woman Maj Doris Rimpi. Twenty years ago she had another kind of life.

She travelled all around the world and she experienced a lot. Nowadays Maj Doris lives alone on a farm above the arctic circle in Sweden. She keeps reindeer but she’s also a sought-after artist, painter and actress (i.a. Sami Blood 2016). Last winter was filled with hard work and she almost gave up. This winter Maj Doris gets help from an unexpected way, but does she have the energy to continue like this?

Maj Doris is Jon Blåhed’s debut as a documentary film director and along with DP/Editor Jimmy Sundin, they have created a film that is nothing less than a work of art.

The film is subtly infused with idealism, evolution of self and culture, and some of the big questions of our modern times, all while mastering the realm of film aesthetics.


 A Little Wisdom - playing at Hot Docs

A Little Wisdom

A Little Wisdom is director Yuqi Kang’s intimately observed portrait of orphaned monks living in an isolated monastery in Lumbini, Nepal.

In the birthplace of the Buddha, we follow the daily routine of novice monk Hopakuli and his older brother Chorten, left by their mother at Karma Samtenling Monastery. Kang lived at the monastery for a year prior to filming Hopakuli, Chorten and the other young monks.

A Little Wisdom’s subtle rhythms and symbols evoke Buddhist teachings while showing the contradictions between Hopakuli’s austere monastic upbringing and a child’s natural fascination and longing for the world beyond Lumbin.

For director, Yuqi Kang, filmmaking is a dialogical process that involves both observation and improvisation. Filmmaking is an extension of Yuqi’s artistic practice and through her work she explores the questions of representation, human experience and cultural translation. A Little Wisdom is Yuqi Kang's feature directorial debut. She hopes this film will help to bring awareness that the Buddhist community is no different than any other communities, and see the monks as real people with emotions just like us.


Strange Sound of Happiness playing at Hot Docs 

The Strange Sound of Happiness

After years drifting, Diego returns to Sicily. His dream of becoming a musician has not worked out. He has no job and no plans for the future but the sound of an ancient musical instrument, the mouth harp, points the way. From the torrid coasts of Sicily, Diego journeys to the frozen flatlands of Yakutia in Siberia where he becomes part of a prophecy from a century ago. The “sound of happiness” is at last there.

Fantastically imaginative and delightfully self-effacing, filmmaker Diego Pascal Panarello crafts an endearing look at his own quasi-magical mid-life crisis.

The Strange Sound of Happiness is Diego Pascal Panarello’s first feature-length documentary.


The White World Accoding to Daliborka - playing at Hot Docs
The White World According to Daliborek

Dalibor K. is an industrial painter, amateur horror maker, the composer of angry songs, painter and a radical neo-Nazi. He is approaching 40, but he is still living with his mother Vera and is yet to experience a romantic relationship with a woman. He hates his job, gypsies, Jews, refugees, homosexuals, Merkel, spiders and dentists. He hates his life, but he doesn’t know how to change it.

Director Vít Klusák says it was not easy to keep balance between critical distance and empathy of the subject. He knew from the beginning that he didn't want to make an activist’s judgment or a documentary filmmaker’s execution of a Nazi. He considers it far more precious to be given a chance to understand how a sensitive boy from a small town becomes a proud self-proclaimed Neo-Nazi. And how it is possible, that the people who surround him keep agreeing with him with smiles on their faces.


 The Artist and the Pervert playing at Hot Docs

The Artist and the Pervert

Georg Friedrich Haas and his wife Mollena Williams-Haas had each been searching for the right partner for over 40 years before they finally found each other on the dating website OKCupid. Their first date was wild, passionate, and seemingly promising, so the renowned Austrian composer and the American sex educator, author and performer decided to go steady, living happily ever after in a BDSM relationship.

But this is not the only reason they make a rather unusual couple. Mollena is a descendant of African slaves, Georg the child of Austrian Nazis. She grew up in poor conditions in New York, while he was raised on a mountain at 1000 meters above sea level in Montafon. Race, nationality, background and power dynamics all add to their unique relationship as explored in The Artist and the Pervert




Hot Docs begins on Thursday April 26 and runs until May 6


The author

Philip Zave Wiseman

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