Toronto– Hot Docs kicked off Thursday night with Morgan Spurlock’s product placement-fuelled “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.”
And as the leading documentary festival, mart and confab readies to unspool 200 pics from 43 countries in 10 days, it continues to turn up the heat on non-fiction fare.
Recent pickups of Tribeca world preems are also screening here — Lee Hirsch’s “The Bully Project” (TWC) and Billy Corben’s “Limelight” by Magnolia Pictures (which just sold Canuck rights to VSC) — continue the market momentum from Sundance and SXSW.
And while Hot Docs’ Toronto Documentary Forum pitching event, which runs May 4-5, is the traditional hub of industry action as opposed to acquisitions, the fest’s slate nevertheless reflects the growing trend of pics that feel more like movies and less like docs — the kind of narrative-driven, low-budget fare distributors are increasingly seeking.
“Broadcasters have continued to pull out of creative, long-form documentaries as factual entertainment has eaten up all the slots,” said Hot Docs artistic director Sean Farnel. “But we’re seeing (docs) continue to thrive through filmmakers who are pushing the boundaries.
“If you want to be in cinemas you have to make cinema, and all those things we find in fiction films like ambiguity, poetry, suspense and narrative are showing up more and more in the films we’re programming,” added Farnel, referring to titles like Sundance World doc winner “Hell and Back Again” among others.
Hot Docs’ world preems with solid market potential include Linda Goldstein Knowlton’s story of Chinese-born adoptees, “Somewhere Between”; Anthony Baxter’s David-and-Goliath saga “You’ve Been Trumped” and Thomas Selim Wallner’s “The Guantanamo Trap,” a Canadian Spectrum highlight already picked up for domestic distribution by Kinosmith.
Hot Docs runs to May 8.