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Hot Docs Unveils Full Slate

Festival to open with Shawney Cohen’s 'The Manor' (above)

TORONTO – The 20th Hot Docs Canadian Intl. Documentary Festival will open on April 25 with Shawney Cohen’s feature-helming debut “The Manor” the fest revealed Tuesday, along with its full slate of 205 titles, chosen from 2,386 submissions, from 43 countries.

“Manor,” the first Canuck debut to open the fest in a decade, follows three years in the life of a small-town strip club owned by the filmmaker’s feuding family. Cohen, a computer animation artist, pitched “Manor” at IDFA and won a Tribeca Film Institute docu fund production grant in 2011.

Highlights of the Intl. Spectrum competition program includes Lotfy Nathan’s SXSW-preeming “12 O’Clock Boys,” tracking a young boy’s yearning to join a dirt-bike gang; Matt Wolf’s culture essay “Teenage”; Inigo Westmeier’s behind-the-scenes look at an ancient Shaolin kung fu school “Dragon Girls”; Jessica Oreck’s tale of Lapland reindeer herders “Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys”; Jon Bang Carlsen’s exploration of troubled teens at reform school, “Just the Right Amount of Justice”; Zhu Yu’s father-son tale set in a toxic workplace, “Cloudy Mountains” and Ran Tal’s look at vacationers in an Israeli national park, “Garden of Eden.”

The Canadian Spectrum competish program includes John Kastner’s exploration of the rights of the mentally ill versus the safety of others, “NCR: Not Criminally Responsible”; Anne Wheeler’s portrait of actress Babz Chula’s journey to India to find a cure for her cancer, “Chi”; Michelle Latimer’s hip-hop fuelled “Alias”; Charles Wilkinson’s “Oil Sands Karaoke”; Hans Olson’s Alberta-set “The Auctioneer”; Liz Marshall’s examination of animal sentience, “The Ghosts in our Machine,” and Nimisha Mukerji’s “Blood Relative,” about one man’s fight to get life-saving medical treatment for young people in India.

The Special Presentations program of mostly U.S. docus was announced last month.

“This year’s festival is about looking back and celebrating our 20th anniversary and also looking forward,” said Hot Docs director of programming Charlotte Cook. “This year we are celebrating big ideas, innovation and the future. We will have many new and exciting experiences to give back to the local and filmmaking communities that have supported us for two decades.”

The Rule Breakers and Innovators strand includes four titles that world-preemed at SXSW, including Ben Nabors’ SX docu competish jury prize-winner “William and the Windmill,” Alex Winter’s “Downloaded,” Merete Mueller and Christopher Smith’s “Tiny: A Story About Living Small” and Simon Klose’s “TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard.”

Notable pics in the World Showcase program include Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina’s portrait of an unrepentant 81-year-old jewel thief, “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne”; Victor Buhler’s “A Whole Lott More,” about an auto-industry facility on the brink of crisis, and sisters Rena Mundo Croshere and Nadine Mundo’s “American Commune.”

Poland is under the spotlight in the Made In program. Highlights include Bartosz M. Kowalski’s friendship saga “A Dream in the Making” and Wiktoria Szymanska’s portrait of a famous puppeteer “The Man Who Made Angels Fly.”

Standouts in the fest’s arts strand, The Next, are Sini Anderson’s “The Punk Singer,” a biodoc about feminist icon Kathleen Hanna, and James Leong and Lynn Lee’s “The Great North Korean Picture Show,” which offers a rare peek into the country’s only film school.

Nightvision, the fest’s edgy latenight program, includes Jeanie Finlay’s “The Great Hip Hop Hoax” and Morgan Matthew’s tale about fanatical monster hunters, “Shooting Bigfoot.”

The Hot Docs Forum pitch mart for the international docu biz received 149 submissions and has selected 19 projects from 13 countries to pitch to international execs and players. Participating buyers confirmed to date include U.S. outlets HBO, CNN Films, Hulu, MSNBC, National Geographic Channel and PBS plus pubcasters from the U.K. (BBC), Canada (CBC/SRC), Australia (SBS), Japan (NHK), Italy (RAI), Denmark (DR TV), Sweden (SVT) and Finland (YLE). German-French web Arte, Canada’s TV Ontario and German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 will also be at the meet.

U.S. productions or co-productions pitching at the Hot Docs Forum include “The Bolivian Case,” “Censored Voices,” “In Country,” “Midway,” “The Peacemaker” and “Street Fighting Man.”

Projects selected for the Forum’s new Deal Maker initiative, offering more intimate meet sessions, will be announced April 3. Hot Docs runs April 25 to May 5 in Toronto.

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