We saw Becoming Who I Was (Moon Chang-Yong, 2017), a documentary about a young boy in northern India who is a Rinpoche—the reincarnation of a Tibetan monk. Unable to contact his flock in Tibet—and rejected from his local monastery because of this—he travels with his mentor to figure out what he needs to do next.
We saw Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. (Stephen Loveridge, 2018), a documentary about musician/activist/director/provocateur M.I.A., a Tamil refugee who became an unlikely pop star. The movie traces her early life, her rise to fame, her attempts to use that fame to address the civil war and genocide in Sri Lanka, and the controversies that have surrounded her career.
Michael Collins and Suzanne Akbari chatted afterwards to think through the movie.
We saw The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, a collection of short operatic and concert pieces by Igor Stravinsky put on by the Canadian Opera Company. If you’re thinking of seeing this and don’t want spoilers about the production (and that’s a reasonable way to want to see this), then don’t listen yet.
We return to Hot Docs for The Return (Malene Choi, 2018), a hybrid documentary (i.e., one that includes fictional elements). It tells the story of two adoptees from South Korea who grew up in Denmark and who return to Korea to seek their biological parents, with complicated results.
We saw Cielo (Alison McAlpine, 2017) at Hot Docs. (Funny how we’re seeing a lot of documentaries during a documentary film festival.) Cielo (Spanish for "sky") has a lot of big questions about our relationship to the night sky, and the director asks both astronomers and villagers in Chile’s majestic Atacama plateau.
Chris Piuma and Angelo Muredda went out for coffee afterwards to discuss the film and their own relationship to the stars. (See also: Chris’s song about a constellation and Angelo’s podcast about trekking across the universe.)
We saw the documentary People’s Republic of Desire (Hao Wu, 2018). It follows two people in China who are hoping to become famous through live-streaming. It also tracks the fans—some very rich, some very poor—who pay to vote for them in an annual competition. We went to get some bubble tea afterwards to talk about the film and wonder about internet audiences, social connectedness, and bad interface design.
In the early 90s, three teen zinester girls in Singapore make a movie with their Svengali-like older friend Georges. It’s a feature-length experimental road movie called Shirkers, and it is destined to become a cult classic—until Georges runs away with the footage. Sandi Tan, the wunderkind screenwriter and lead actor of Shirkers, now presents Shirkers (2018), a documentary about the lost film, and an attempt to figure out what happened after Georges left.
We went to see the documentary Beuys (Andres Veiel, 2017), about the experimental artist, provocateur, and sometime politician Joseph Beuys. Over sushi we discuss how performance artists of the 70s kept putting themselves in harm’s way, and we wade into it means to be a social activist artist.
We went to see the musical Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical graphic novel about her relationship with her father. We discuss how queer narratives have changed over the years, the trauma of the closet, and the trickiness of representation.