This was our first time attending Hot Docs in person in a number of years. I don’t remember the last year we went pre-pandemic. We did participate at least once during the pandemic, when the festival was online. But it had been quite some time since we’d been in person. (From my posts on this site it looks like it had been 7 years.) As with TIFF last year, this was a reminder of how far out of downtown we now live.
We saw six documentaries at the 2023 Hot Docs Festival, all of which were at least okay and one of which might have actually been truly excellent but I just had some minor stylistic nitpicks that kept me from giving it a higher rating.
1. Soviet Barbara: the Story of Ragnar Kjartansson in Moscow, directed by Gaukur Úlfarsson (8/10)
The best film we saw at Hot Docs this year, hands down. 8/10 actually feels a little harsh in retrospect. Read the review of Soviet Barbara.
2. I’m Just Here for the Riot, redirected by Kathleen Jayme, Asia Youngman (7/10)
A pretty good 30 for 30 about the 2011 Stanley Cup riots that we didn’t know was a 30 for 30 until we got in the theatre. Read the review of I’m Just Here for the Riot.
3. Satan Wants You, directed by Steve J. Adams, Sean Horlor (7/10)
An examination of the Satanic Panic of the 1980s which is really more the history of Michelle Remembers, one of the books that led to the Satanic Panic. Read the review of Satan Wants You.
4. The Cemetery of Cinema, directed by Thierno Souleymane Diallo (6/10)
I quite liked the first part of this film. The second part I didn’t like as much and apparently enough to bump it down this far. Still glad I watched it. My first film from Guinea. Read the review of The Cemetery of Cinema.
4. Praying for Armageddon, directed by Tonje Hessen Schei, Michael Rowley (6/10)
A necessary message about evangelicals funding radical Zionist settlers in Palestine is undercut by what Jenn calls “scope creep” and a general lack of focus. Read the review of Praying for Armageddon.
6. Time Bomb Y2K, directed by Brian Becker, Marley McDonald (5/10)
An archival collage of the history of the Y2K bug and the moral panic that arose around it. The decision to go with only archival footage really hampers the film, and the whole thing has a strong “first feature” vibe to it. I had to read the Wikipedia article afterwards and that’s never good. Read the review of Time Bomb Y2K.