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‘Railroad’ to kick off Hot Docs fest

Slate features 99 films from 23 countries

The North American preem of Chema Rodriguez’s “The Railroad All Stars,” a doc about Guatemalan prostitutes who join a soccer team to highlight their plight, will open the 13th Hot Docs Canadian Intl. Documentary Festival on April 28. 

It heads up a slate of 99 films from 23 countries unveiled Tuesday in Toronto for the nine-day event, North America’s largest doc fest and market, with about 1,700 industryites in attendance as well as 41,000 filmgoers.

Events and politics from the Mideast inspire a number of this year’s festival picks. In “Voices of Bam,” directed by Aliona van der Horst and Maasja Ooms, survivors tell of the earthquake in Bam, Iran. Fresh from Sundance, James Longley brings “Iraq in Fragments.” The North American preem of “Our Own Private Bin Laden,” from Samira Goetschel, takes viewers on a trip “down the rabbit hole of Cold War politics.”

The Canadian Spectrum features 15 world preems, including Jean-Daniel Lafond’s “American Fugitive: The Truth About Hassan.” Doc’s about David Theodore Belfield, an African-American exiled in Iran for 25 years and on the FBI’s most-wanted list for the 1980 killing of an Iranian diplomat.

The Canadian spectrum this year is headed by Larry Weinstein’s “Mozartballs,” a tribute inspired by the composer’s 250th birthday. As part of an expanded special presentations program, festgoers go on vacation with Rosie O’Donnell and Atom Egoyan in Sharl Cookson’s “All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise” and Egoyan’s “Citadel.”

Nick Broomfield’s “His Big White Self” joins the slate, as does “Fuck” from Steve Anderson, an examination of that expletive. “Darkon” from Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer, the audience’s pick for top doc at the SXSW Film Festival, joins the international showcase.

Other Sundance hits receiving their Canadian preem are “In the Pit” from Juan Carlos Rulfo; Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan’s “So Much so Fast”; “Thin,” directed by Lauren Greenfield, and “Wide Awake” from Alan Berliner.

The fest’s signature industry event, the Toronto Documentary Forum, runs May 3 and 4.

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