2 x 1 hr.
9/11: Cleared for Chaos is a 2×1-hour documentary special telling the gripping story of how Air Traffic Controllers in the small Canadian town of Gander, Newfoundland pulled off the impossible.
4,500 planes are in the air over North America when a second jet strikes the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. A third jet slams into the Pentagon. Dick Cheney gives the order to clear the skies. At that very moment, 400 planes are westbound toward the US across the Atlantic. 167 are past the point of no return and must land immediately… what happens next depends on the actions of a bunch of Air Traffic Controllers at the edge of the North Atlantic.
Untold Stories of the E.R. is a fast-paced medical series that blends re-enactments of real emergency room cases with comments by the actual physicians and nurses involved in the procedures. Often the patients give first-person accounts as well, and some even play themselves during the re-enactments.
1 x 75 min.
Untying the Knot tells the powerful story of Rumana Monzur, a Bangladeshi-Canadian woman who was viciously assaulted by her husband in Bangladesh, leaving her totally blind. From the aftermath of the attack to Rumana’s present life in Vancouver, the film traces Rumana’s journey and her courageous pursuit of a challenging goal: to become a practicing lawyer in Canada.
Interwoven with Rumana’s story are the unfolding journeys of three women in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital city, whose relationships mirror aspects of Rumana’s own abusive marriage. Tradition, family pressure and social stigma all play a role in controlling women’s lives in a patriarchal society. Untying the Knot lays bare the unspoken sacrifices women must make in the name of marital expectation. With remarkable access to the subjects’ lives, the film is an intimate portrait of how women are surviving, and fighting to change, the social codes that bind them.
Directed by Zanna Shammi
1 x 90 min.
Award-winning documentarian Alan Zweig returns to the Festival with an honest, hard-hitting, and humane look at the careers of retired police officers, as described in their own words.
A sort of companion piece to A Hard Name, his 2009 documentary about former inmates, Alan Zweig’s Coppers interviews a dozen or so retired police officers. Although their beats ranged from large and mid-level cities to very small towns, their experiences, perhaps surprisingly, are quite similar. As one ex-cop remarks, “No one calls the police when they’re having a great day.” Most have witnessed scenes anyone would have a hard time living with. One officer describes a murder suicide where the killer dispatched his victim with a statue of a German shepherd and a cassette recorder. Another, assigned to a particularly harsh detail, breaks down in tears, overwhelmed by the amount of horrifying evidence he had to comb through.
Like the best documentary filmmakers, Zweig does not go in with foregone conclusions. A disarming interviewer, Zweig lets his subjects talk about what troubled them most: high stress, horrific crimes, racism, sexism, and guilt (one cop is still haunted by the day he nearly killed a young girl who wandered into a confrontation scene). But Zweig doesn’t avoid probing questions, particularly about the officers’ and their colleagues’ transgressions, personal and otherwise. Even if he gets evasive answers, the responses remain incredibly telling.
Harrowing and humane, empathetic and hard hitting, Zweig’s latest film is a powerful addition to his compelling body of work, which already includes both a Best Canadian Feature (When Jews Were Funny, TIFF ’13) and a Platform prize (Hurt, TIFF ’15).
1 x 1 hr.
Year of The Goat follows a group of youthful goat-fanciers on the path to glory – a win at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair’s Dairy Goat Competition. To make it to the Royal, the Superbowl of agricultural fairs in November, they must compete in a series of regional shows across Ontario, beginning in June. It won’t be easy, as these kids must balance caring for their goats with school and home life. And some of these families live on working dairy goat farms where profits are slim – so the pressure to win is high. Not only is the prestige of a win at the Royal good for their goat breeding or dairy businesses, prize money can help them to break even.
1 x 90 min.
In his new feature documentary Borealis, acclaimed director Kevin McMahon (Waterlife) travels deep into the heart of the boreal forest to explore the chorus of life in Canada’s iconic wilderness. How do trees move, communicate and survive the destructive forces of fire, insects, and human encroachment? Borealis offers an immersive portrait of the lifecycles of the forest from the perspective of the plants and animals that live there.
1 x 75 min.
C3 is an Evangelical church that opened in Toronto in 2013 and quickly amassed a large following among the city’s young, hip and tattooed. #Blessed offers an intimate look inside this fast-growing millennial church, following the process of selling salvation in the 21st century.
As pastor Sam Picken and his team grow the church from two locations to three, we explore the lives of some of its young members. Aspiring pastor David works on a new and chaste relationship with his girlfriend Mona as he prepares to go to C3 College in Australia for a year; former party girl Aimee does a 180 as she turns away from drugs and ends a relationship with a woman to embrace a church-centred life; and Conan throws himself deeper into the church community while struggling to believe. Tying all these stories together is Galen, a young academic who is fascinated by the church’s pull but questions its tactics.
Much like other viral church startups of the 21st century, C3 is tapping into something very real and apparently much needed in the hearts of many millennials. While Picken and his team have given church a modern rebranding, it becomes clear as the characters’ stories unfold that what these youth are searching for is not new at all. It is, in fact, fundamental: the age-old need to be part of something bigger than oneself. But how will C3’s new converts react to the conservative Christian values hidden beneath the church’s shiny new packaging?
Bangla Surf Girls is an immersive documentary that takes us into the heart of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where we witness the transformation of young girls who join a local surf club and dream of freedom and escape from a life of drudgery and abuse.
1 x 83 min.
Winner of the prestigious 2019 Hot Docs Rogers Audience Choice Award for Best Canadian Feature and the DGC Special Jury Prize, PREY is a riveting and unflinching account of a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and his civil lawyer as they take on the Catholic Church.
Widespread sexual abuse within the Church has traumatized thousands globally. Many have only recently come forward to speak publicly, while others have been silenced through financial settlements. But PREY follows one survivor as he pursues justice through a public trial in the hopes of forcing the dark and hidden story of clergy sexual abuse to light.
The plaintiff in the landmark Canadian court case was abused for years as a boy at the hands of a Catholic priest fifty years ago. His civil lawyer has filed 395 suits against the Church, earning him the nickname “The Priest Hunter”.
The defendants at trial are The Basilians, a Catholic religious order. The abuser makes his presence known in court in the form of a haunting video deposition taken before his death — a taped confession sealed from public view until now.
The trial is not about guilt or innocence, but about how much money the church must pay in compensation for the devastating fallout from the abuse. More importantly, for the plaintiff, it is about exposing the truth of how and why the sexual abuse of children can have gone on for so long without the Church stopping it.
PREY documents one survivor’s efforts to seek justice. A story that echoes thousands of other sexual abuse victims’ stories around the world.
20 x 1 hr.
In The Nature of Things, host David Suzuki offers informative views about the state of the world and how to make it a better place. His documentaries are produced in Canada and abroad, and all offer a look at the way the planet is changing and shifting in our modernized age.