Baichwal's pic to kick off Toronto event

TORONTO — The world preem of local documentary helmer Jennifer Baichwal’s “Act of God,” exploring the metaphysical effects of being struck by lightning, will open Toronto’s Hot Docs on April 30 — marking the first time a Canadian film has opened the international doc showcase.

Baichwal won an Intl. Emmy for “Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles” (1998), and her 2006 doc “Manufactured Landscapes” won best Canadian feature at the Toronto Film Festival.

“Act of God,” based on the book by author and lightning-strike survivor Paul Auster, will open in Canada on May 1 via Mongrel Media.

The annual fest, confab and mart, the largest of its kind in North America, also announced the Canadian preems of seven pics from the international fest circuit that will screen as special presentations: Havana Marking’s Sundance award winner “Afghan Star”; Heddy Honigmann’s Leipzig hit “Oblivion”; Ondi Timoner’s Sundance grand jury prize winner “We Live in Public”; Anders Hogsbro Ostergaard’s Joris Ivens (IDFA) winner “Burma VJ: Reporting From a Closed Country”‘ Kim Longinotto’s Sundance world cinema jury prize winner “Rough Aunties”; Helena Tretikova’s European Film Awards doc winner “Rene”; and Berlin’s Panorama aud award winner “The Yes Men Fix the World,” co-helmed by Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno and Kurt Engfehr.

Hot Docs announces its full slate of pics on March 24.

Fest runs April 30-May 10. The Toronto Documentary Forum runs May 6-7.

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