The first time I went to Hot Docs in Toronto I was bowled over, not just by the programming on offer but by the deep appreciation of documentary as an art form. Sitting in the Bloor Theatre, in the midst of Toronto’s bustling student quarter, in a space dedicated to screening documentaries all year round, I knew I had arrived at the gates of documentary heaven. “Outstanding and Outspoken” is the logline used by Hot Docs to describe their event: it’s a reflection of their deep commitment to doco culture through extensive touring and education programs and market activities for the industry.
It seemed to me that Australia could do with a taste of Hot Docs and this program is my selection of 24 of the “hottest docs” from around the globe (15 different countries). It includes two world premieres of new Australian productions; Charlie Hill Smith’s Motorkite Dreaming and Helen Kapalos’s timely look at the issue of medical marijuana, A Life of its Own. Apart from these two, 90 percent of this program will have screened at Toronto’s Hot Docs 2016 program, or have played there in the last 12 months.
My deep thanks go to Chris McDonald, Brett Hendrie and Shane Smith from Hot Docs for their commitment to the idea of bringing Hot Docs down under, and of course, to the “Godfather” of Australian film festivals, Antonio Zeccola, to Benjamin Zeccola and Elysia Zeccola Hill, who heads up Palace’s wonderful festival team. Welcome to Hot Docs at Palace Cinemas.