Hot Docs: Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey [2011, Constance Marks]

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

Toronto – Simply put, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey is a wonderful inspirational documentary about following your dreams. Chronicling the life and times of Kevin Clash, the man responsible for the beloved Elmo character, this film takes us from the days when Kevin was a child, aspiring to be a cast member of Sesame Street to present day, where he is not only a puppeteer, but also director and producer of the kids show. It’s a heartwarming tale and nicely incorporates historical elements of the story of Sesame Street as well, featuring lots of archival and behind the scenes footage of the people who put so much joy to children’s lives. The documentary also serves as lovely tribute to Jim Henson, the man behind it all and a source of great inspiration in Kevin’s journey.

With it’s warmhearted nature, wonderful editing and mountains of classic footages, this was easily my favorite documentary at Hot Docs and you should definitely check it out.

Hot Docs: Fahrenheit 7-Eleven [Walter Forsberg, 2011]

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs | 1 Comment

Toronto – Burton Cummings is a cultural institution in Winnipeg.  In Fahrenheit 7 – Eleven, director Walter Forsberg offers up a humorous look at Cummings’ importance to the city of Winnipeg.  Part of a proposed three part series on the Guess Who frontman, it revolves largely around one incident in particular, a night in 1985 when Cummings was attacked with a beer bottle at a local 7-11. 

Unfolding like a wacky Prairie version of Rashomon, several Winnipeg residents recount the events of that night as they heard it told.  These events are then re-enacted by those residents and given further cultural context by Weakerthans frontman John K. Samson.  It’s a ridiculous, entertaining, informative look at the cult of personality that revolves around Cummings in the ‘Peg.  It’s also your chance to see John K. Samson make his acting debut as a 7-11 employee in one scene.   At just 14 minutes, it’s brief but packs a lot in there.  I look forward to part two. 

Song of the Day: Ou Est Le Swimming Pool – Dance The Way I Feel

Posted on by Ricky in Song of the Day | Leave a comment

Toronto – One of the more tragic stories in the music industry last year was the tale of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool. An electro rock dance band that had released a few stellar singles and played some well esteemed festivals, the Camden group was well on their way to success. However, that promise came to a halt when lead singer Charles Haddon leapt to his death from a telecommunications mast behind the main stage at the Pukkelpop festival. Apparently he was distressed after injuring a girl on an ill advised stage dive (resulting in the girl being taken off on a stretcher). It is a sad story and makes you wonder about the dangers of ill advised stage dives at any given show.

I have been listening to a Triple J compilation this week and the inclusion of this song made me think about the story of this band, and what might have been.

Hot Docs Weekend Picks: Restrepo, Elmo, Chocolate Farmer, Black Power Mixtape, more.

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

Toronto – Surely by now you have heard the collective buzz that is going around. It’s the last weekend of Hot Docs. Have you had been hit with the films of truth yet? If not, you should check out some of these flicks this weekend.

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

Fri, May 6 7:15 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Sat, May 7 7:15 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Sun, May 8 4:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

A fun and happy documentary that is as much a tribute to Jim Henson and Sesame Street as it is a tale about a young boy who dreams of becoming a puppeteer. It’ll be like the dessert after your meals of harsh truthful films. Who doesn’t love Elmo? Certainly not Ricky Gervais:


Fri, May 6 9:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

A rip roaring documentary about the life of Ayrton Senna, who died tragically in a F1 race in 1994. This Brazillian driver is still revered in the motor racing world nearly twenty years after his death due to his personality, flamboyancy and skill. All fans of racing will want to check it out.

Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour

Friday May 6 9:30 @ Tiff Bell Lightbox 3

One of the better rockumentaries out there, check out iconic electrolash band Le Tigre as they go on their final tour. If you are a music fan, you have to see this. My review here.


Saturday May 7 3:00 PM @ Tiff Bell Lightbox 1

The death of Tim Hetherington in Libya on April 20th has stunned the documentary community. In tribute of their fallen comrade, Hot Docs will be airing a special screening of his esteemed documentary Restrepo, a documentary about the Afghanistan war. Gary wrote a review about it here.

The Chocolate Farmer

Sat, May 7 7:15 PM @ Cumberland 2
Sun, May 8 1:15 PM @ The ROM Theatre

This film from filmaker Rohan Fernando will make you think twice the next time you gaze upon your hot chocolate. This beautifully shot film takes you into the heart of Belize to meet a Eladio, a chocolate farmer who farms on a little plot of land. As with a lot of films about indigenous people, it’s a film about the struggle these proud people go through to adapt to the rapidly changing land and culture around them.

Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Sat, May 7 9:00 PM @ Bloor Cinema

An amazing documentary that combs the Swedish video archives for exceptional footage about the civil rights movement in the United States in the 60s/70s. Highly recommended. Read my review here.

There are many more great docs out there, go out and explore!