Welcome back for part four of our weeklong preview of the Toronto International Film Festival. If you've been here all week, you will have read about the galas in part one: The Big Launches, the genre in part two: The Fantastic Side of Things, and the Asian cinema in part three: Pacific Rim Offerings. Now we'll turn our attention to a few of the documentaries that have caught our eye. Enjoy!
MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD
It seems like no film festival goes by without a fascinating new documentary from Oscar winner Alex Gibney (TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE). What's in his crosshairs this time? Oh, just pedophilia in the Catholic Church and the cover ups and denials that go all the way up to the Vatican.
Spike Lee does his best to make all the children of the '80s feel old with this look back at Michael Jackson's Bad album, 25 years after its release. Some very notable musicians share their stories about album's influence, from Quincy Jones to Justin Bieber (who was minus 7 when the Bad came out).
A LIAR'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY - THE UNTRUE STORY OF MONTY PYTHON'S GRAHAM CHAPMAN
While it isn't exactly a documentary, it isn't really a drama either. This is the recitation, reenactment, and slight dramatization of an autobiographical manuscript written and recorded by the late Graham Chapman in the 1980s. What makes co-directors Ben Jones, Jeff Simpson, and Ben Timlett's film most fascinating, is that it's animated by variety of different animation houses using contrasting styles, making this film truly unlike anything else at TIFF.
STORM SURFERS 3D
Justin McMillan and Chris Nelius have teamed up to bring their Australian big wave surf documentary series following legends Tom Carroll and Ross Clark-Jones to the big screen and the 3rd dimension. Expect giant waves and even bigger wipe outs.
Daniel Gordon spent the first part of his career on North Korean subjects, including directing the fascinating 2004 "Mass Games" docu, A STATE OF MIND. His latest is an examination of Ben Johnson's record breaking 100M at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and his disqualification for doping. The movie will air as part of ESPN's 30 for 30 series on October 9th.
CAMP 14 - TOTAL CONTROL ZONE
Marc Weise's docu is the incredible story of a boy born and raised in a North Korean concentration came who sees the outside world for the first time when he escapes at the age of 23.
VENUS AND SERENA
Maiken Baird, producer of Alex Gibney's CLIENT 9: THE RISE AND FALL OF ELIOT SPITZER, teams with Michelle Majore to make both of their feature directing debuts with this sports docu about Tennis's most famous siblings. Gibney served as Executive Producer on the project.
ICEBERG SLIM: PORTRAIT OF A PIMP
Directed by Jorge Hinojosa, a producer on Ice-T's hit Sundance docu SOMETHING FROM NOTHING: THE ART OF RAP, this docu explores the birth of "Street Lit" through its founder, legendary Chicago pimp-turned-novelist Iceberg Slim. Chris Rock, Henry Rollins, Ice-T, Snoop Dogg, and Quincy Jones all make appearances.
LONDON - THE MODERN BABYLON
Famed music video director Julien Temple explores his hometown through this time traveling journey into its past, present, and future.
THE LEBANESE ROCKET SOCIETY
This interesting sounding docu screening in the Wavelengths section takes an artistic look at Lebanon's ill-fated 1960s space program. The film is directed by notable Lebanese directing duo Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige.
THE WALLS OF DAKAR
Director Abdoul Aziz Cisse takes us into one of the Western Africa's most thriving cities with this tour of Senegal's capital via the art and artists of the city's unplanned mural frescoes.
Rodney Ascher's fascinating and sometime wacky journey into the conspiracy theories espoused by THE SHINING scholars gets yet another festival trot (it has played almost everywhere). This film is pure catnip for Kubrick fans and shouldn't be missed. IFC Midnight will be bringing the film to VOD and possibly theaters once it finishes its epic festival run.
Review by James Marsh
There really are plenty more documentaries worth exploring at TIFF. Just a few other notables include the well received Telluride Israeli security doc GATEKEEPERS, directed by Dror Moreh, Matthew Cooke's (editor of DELIVER US FROM EVIL) War on Drugs docu, HOW TO MAKE MONEY SELLING DRUGS, and the tale of Snoop Dogg's spiritual transformation to his new identity, Snoop Lion, in Vice Magazine editor Andy Capper's REINCARNATED.
Thanks for reading. Tomorrow, part five will focus on a few of the smaller films that are hoping to find a big audience at TIFF.