Toronto audiences are world renowned for being supportive movie goers, and from April 26 to May 5, documentary makers descended upon the city to feel the love. Hot Docs, North America’s biggest documentary film festival, had its most successful year yet, and REEL CANADA staff were among the 165,000 who attended over the 10 days of the festival.
Documentaries make up a significant chunk of REEL CANADA’s catalogue, and with good reason: NANOOK OF THE NORTH (made in 1922 by Canadian Robert Flaherty) is considered to be the first documentary, and the term itself was coined by John Grierson, the first commissioner of the National Film Board of Canada. With that kind of history, it’s no surprise that Canadians have a strong reputation for producing great docs, and when programming a REEL CANADA festival, students often choose to watch them alongside more “mainstream” fiction films.
But don’t be fooled – the docs in our catalogue are not of the preachy, somber, “good for you” variety. They range from the funny, enlightening and stereotype-smashing REEL INJUN to the harrowing and heart-wrenching SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL. At Hot Docs, there were nearly 40 shorts and features by Canadian doc-makers (including some classics by veterans Michel Brault, recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award, and John Kastner, this year’s subject of Focus On a retrospective) -- the staff managed to see most of what was on offer, and we hope to be able to include some of them in our catalogue one day.