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by Chantel Elassaad
April 29th, 2011

Last year Team Rooftop packed into two questionable vans, and road tripped it to Toronto.  Fun times forever documented here. As a Canadian, and former Toronto resident, I had such a blast catching up with my amazing El Toro friends and saw some great films too.

I’m in denial of that fact that I’m not going to Hot Docs this year. The line-up is amazing and I really miss my fellow Canadian friends (my friend Joe Freitas is having a BABY today!) So I’m working through my disappointment by posting the films that I would have seen. And also throwing in a few recommendations should you happen to be representing the The T Dot anytime between right now and May 8th, 2011.

First off, get a blanket, and wool sweater and possibly a winter jacket, and get on a Toronto rooftop to see all the films we’re proudly co-presenting.

BEAUTY DAY
I had the pleasure of seeing Beauty Day when it played at MOMA a while back, (yeah, that’s right, I left work early that day, so fire me!) and it’s no secret that love this documentary. If this film was a drug, I would be it’s pusher. I was born and raised in same town as the film’s fascinating personality Ralph Zavadil, aka Cap’n Video, and my little brother and I were loyal viewers of his cable access television show. Jay Cheel’s portrait of Ralph is charming, funny and a must-see.  Not only is Jay an amazing director, he’s also a really great guy, go see this on Wednesday Night!

The Rooftop line up also includes two other fantastic docs:
Thursday, May 5, 2011
WHEN THE DRUM IS BEATING
Award-winning director Whitney Dow (Two Towns of Jasper) delivers a humane and truly exceptional rendering of Haiti’s pride, resistance, despair and rich artistic tradition. Tickets and more info here

Friday, May 6, 2011
OLA SVENSSON SUPERSTAR
Filmmaker Stefan Berg expertly navigates the line between Spinal Tap parody and earnest confessional in this portrait of the Swedish glam rock frontman Ola Svenson. Tickets and more info here

BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN
This morning I picked up the final version of Battle For Brooklyn from my friends Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky, who are also my lovely neighbours’. Rooftop Films will be screening Battle for Brooklyn as a part of the Rooftop Summer Series, and I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s a labor of love, a film that’s been in the works for years, and also an extremely important film for all us who call Brooklyn our home. Tickets and more info here

GRAVITY WAS EVERYWHERE BACK THEN
When Brent came to our office last summer, he was like  “Do you want anything?” and I said, “Yeah, a coffee please” and he brought me a deliciously sweet Thai Ice Coffee, and it was SO AMAZING.  Brent’s like that, full of wonderful surprises, so be prepared to be blown away by his amazing-ness. Tickets and more info here

BEATS, RYHMES & LIFE: THE TRAVELS OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST
This one is so intriguing to me. Sure, every breathing human being loves A Tribe Called Quest, duh. But at Sundance this year our Program Director Dan Nuxoll “nearly cried two or three times and actually fully cried once”. What? Why? How? And it’s directed by the infamous “Remy” from Higher Leaning? Again, what? Why? How? And it sold out at Tribeca in minutes? Why is the title so long? So many mysteries and I feel like it’s my personal mission to unravel them all. Tickets and more info here.

THE BULLY PROJECT
Oh man, speaking on crying, I admit to crying while watching the trailer for The Bully Project.  My stone cold heart melted. You’ll cry too, you’ll see what I am talking about. Tear jerking trailer and ticket info here.

ALAN ZWEIG RETROSPECTVE!
Alan is one of Canada’s finest documentary filmmakers, and one of the coolest guys ever. As an intern at Primitive Entertainment in Toronto I had the pleasure of working on his film I, Curmudgeon (it premiered at Hot Doc’s in 2004, I organized the after-party!) At the time I was too young and too shy to really express to Alan how much I love his work.  If I was in Toronto I would be at all of the screenings.

BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO
Jim Browne is my friend and Rooftop board member, and his company Argot Pictures distributes amazing films, including the fascinating Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo. Tickets and more info here.

(Note: the following photo has nothing to do with Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo)



FIGHTVILLE
Note: I don’t think John Cena has anything to do with this movie but I enjoy looking at photos of him.
It’s also no secret that I love shiny muscles and wrestling, and John Cena. So Fightville is really appealing to me. But not as appealing as the possibility of REAL MEN wrestling at the FAKE IT SO REAL Rooftop Films Screening! DONATE PLEASE! I want me some live wrestling!

Some honorable mentions, films we’ve shown, plan on showing and get the Rooftop Films Stamp of Approval: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF JOSE GONZALEZ, and FAMILY INSTINCT. Rooftop is showing both  films this summer so check our website for details.

Last summer we screened INCIDENT BY A BANK with The Swedish Film Institute. In 2009 when we screened 45365 it started pouring rain close to the end of the film, but everyone was so mesmerized by it that they busted out umbrellas and stayed till the very end.
If you have a Canadian Birth Certificate, you should be forced to watch THE NATIONAL PARKS PROJECT. And PROJECT NIM seems fun! James Marsh! Cute monkey!

There so many more great films at Hot Docs this year that I’ve yet to mention. So if you happen to be in Toronto, please do me a solid by supporting my recommendations, you will not be disappointed. And please eat some poutine for me. I’m sorry I won’t be able to visit you, Toronto, see you next time!

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3 Responses to “Love Letter to Hot Docs ‘11 and The City of El Toro”

  1. Tom says:

    Don’t forget TWO’S A CROWD, which will be part of Rooftop this summer, and premieres at Hot Docs on May 3 and 4!

  2. I’m so sorry Tom! I knew that there would be few good ones that I would forget to mention.
    Yes, Two’s A Crowd, in Toronto and here in NYC this summer! I hope the T Dot screenings went well!

  3. [...] be damned.  The Hot Docs film festival paired up with Brooklyn’s Rooftop Films to present a few films this year, one of them being Beauty Day, the story of Ralph Zavadil.  Zavadil’s claim to [...]

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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