Sex and rock heat up Hot Docs

'Anvil,' 'Green Porno' top N. American fest

Helmer Sacha Gervasi’s Sundance fave “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” and Isabella Rossellini’s “Green Porno” will open Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary fest, confab and mart, April 17.

At Tuesday’s conference to announce the fest’s full slate, exec director Chris McDonald said, “Like many teenagers, the festival will be celebrating its 15th birthday with loud music and porn,” referring to Gervasi’s directing debut about Anvil, the Toronto metal band he was a roadie for in the 1980s, and Rossellini’s shorts about the sex life of insects.

Hot Docs will screen 173 feature and short docs — including 30 world and 31 international preems — from 36 countries to local audiences (68,000 attended in 2007) and an expected 2,000 registered industryites, including official delegations from Italy, Brazil, Catalan, the Nordic region and South Korea.

Also announced were the world preems of Susan Gray’s “Killer Poet,” about convicted killer Norman Porter, who escaped after serving 25 years and lived two decades under a false identity; and Koji Masutani’s “Virtual JFK: Vietnam if Kennedy Had Lived.”

Both are in the Intl. Spectrum program, which includes 21 pics eligible for the international documentary feature award.

Canadian Spectrum opens with the world preem of Sturla Gunnarsson’s “Air India 182,” a probe into the 1985 Delhi-bound flight that crashed four hours after departing Montreal when a bomb exploded on board.

Other world preems in the 24-film program include: “Club Native,” about love and rebellion on a Mohawk reservation; “Flicker,” a history of artist Brion Gysin; “Passage,” a fact-fiction blend about the discovery of the Northwest Passage; and “Tiger Spirit” covering family reunions in a divided Korea.

World preems of “Blast!” a scientific adventure about the Big Bang; “Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home”; and “Nursery University,” the bloodsport of nursery school admissions in post 9/11 New York, highlight the noncompetitive World Showcase program.

Make Me a Believer, a new program exploring belief and spirituality, includes world preems of “Anatomy of a Failure,” investigating the deaths of five women in author Carlos Castaneda’s harem; and “Bloody Cartoons” about satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed published in Denmark.

Previously announced film programs include Spotlight on Iran; Made in Mexico; Special Presentations; and Focus on Jennifer Baichwal, a tribute to the Canadian filmmaker.

British cinematographer and director Richard Leacock receives the fest’s outstanding achievement award and career retrospective.

Doc Shop, the fest’s market for international docu industry, launched Tuesday as a completely digital service, offering registered delegates access to a library of more than 1,500 Canadian and international titles.

With full-screen, high-quality video, browsing tools and reporting capabilities, Doc Shop will also offer password and content-protected dealmaking to producers, buyers and distributors as a year-round service.

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