Event is set to unspool 166 pics from 41 countries

Hot Docs opens with the Canadian preems of Thomas Balmes’ “Babies,” following tots from Namibia, Mongolia, Japan and the U.S., and Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn’s chronicle of the Canuck rock trio “Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage.”

North America’s largest docu festival announced Tuesday morning in Toronto that the confab and mart will unspool 166 pics from 41 countries across 10 programs, including retros, while 28 projects from 11 countries will be pitched to buyers from networks including Canuck pubcaster CBC, France’s Arte, Blighty’s BBC and Channel 4, Japan’s NHK, Italy’s RAI, Finland’s YLE, Germany’s ZDF, Stateside giants HBO and the Sundance Channel during the two-day Toronto Documentary Forum.

Highlights of special presentations, with 19 docus in the lineup, include international preems of Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s “12th and Delaware” (on frontlines of the abortion debate); Steven Soderbergh’s tribute to Spalding Gray “And Everything Is Going Fine”; Duane Baughman and Johnny O’Hara’s bio of former Pakistan leader Benazir Bhutto, “Bhutto”; Alex Gibney’s pop-essay on fraudster Jack Abramoff, “Casino Jack and the United States of Money”; Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s “Joan Rivers — A Piece of Work”; “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier’s “Teenage Paparazzo,” and the Canuck preems of Christian Frei’s Sundance winner “Space Tourists” and Lucy Walker’s “Waste Land.”

The 16 features in Intl. Spectrum vie for best international docu prize. Slate includes world preem of Jan Tenhaven’s look at senior track athletes “Autumn Gold”; the international preems of Josh Fox’s Sundance-winner “Gasland” and Jeff Malmberg’s SXSW-winner “Marwencol”; the North American preems of David Sieveking’s “David Wants to Fly,” about filmmaker David Lynch’s search for enlightenment, and “Sona, the Other Myself,” helmer Yang Yonghi’s follow-up to fest hit “Dear Pyongyang.”

Small-town murder, Lou Gehrig’s disease and honor killings are a few of the tough subjects tackled by Canuck helmers in Canadian Spectrum, which includes 15 features and world preems from veteran helmers Shelley Saywell (“In the Name of the Family”), John Zaritsky (“Leave Them Laughing”) and John Kastner (“Life With Murder”).

World Showcase screens 25 features, including the world preems of Rebecca Haimowitz and Vaishali Sinha’s tale of outsourcing pregnancy, “Made in India,” plus Jonathan Schell and Eric Leibman’s “Sex Magic, Manifesting Maya” and Iris Shim’s “The House of Suh.” International preems include Cameron Yates’ “The Canal Street Madam,” Maghan Eckman’s “The Parking Lot Movie” and Alexandre Philippe’s “The People vs. George Lucas.”

Hot Docs presents 10 features in its Made in South America program. Eight unspool in Small Acts, celebrating everyday acts of kindness and leadership with international preems including Mark Landsman’s SXSW aud winner “Thunder Soul” and Monteith McCollum’s “A Different Path.”

For the second year, Next delivers 14 features that spotlight the arts and pop culture, including the world preem of John Walker’s “A Drummer’s Dream.”

Rippling Reality is a new retro strand, presenting 10 significant docus to spur discussion.

“The past decade has seen a new wave emerge, but unlike other movements, this one remains largely undefined and unheralded,” said Hot Docs programming director Sean Farnel, adding that the program is meant to further the vitality of docu-making.

The fest honors U.K. filmmaker Kim Longinotto with its Outstanding Achievement Award and a 10-pic retro, and also pays tribute to Egypt-born, Quebec-based director Tahani Rached, with a retro and her most recent offering, “Neighbors,” in Special Presentations.

Films Transit Intl. president Jan Rofekamp will receive the Doc Mogul Awards, recognizing an individual who has made a vital contribution to the industry in Canada and abroad.

Hot Docs runs April 29 to May 9, and the Toronto Documentary Forum May 5 and 6.

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