Shawney Cohen's The Manor

With just over 200 films from dozens of countries, Toronto's Hot Docs unveiled its program of nonfiction selections that will screen at this year's festival, taking place April 25 – May 5.

Opening this year's event is the World Premiere of Canadian filmmaker Shawney Cohen's The Manor, about Cohen's father, who purchased a small-town strip club. Hot Docs' lineup includes a number of World and International Premieres as well as features that screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January and the recent SXSW Film Festival.

Highlights include the World Premiere of AJ Schnack's Caucus, about Republican hopefuls competing in the Iowa Caucus amidst the backdrop of county fairs and petting zoos. The International Premiere of Freida Mock's Anita focuses on the 1991 testimony of Anita Hill against then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, which brought sexual harassment to the forefront of public attention. Oscar nominee Lucy Walker's The Crash Reel takes a look at champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce, who fought for his life after suffering major brain trauma. American director Malcolm Ingram's Continental recalls the legendary New York City gay bathhouse of the same name that was at the forefront of a cultural and sexual revolution in the 1970s. Ingram recently discussed his film on the third episode of Film Society's Daily Buzz podcast at SXSW.

Highlights from the Hot Docs lineup follow with descriptions provided by the festival. More titles can be found on their website.

The Manor” (Opening Night Film) by Shawney Cohen (Canada)
When he was six, Shawney Cohen’s father bought “The Manor,” a small-town strip-club. Hoping to understand what happened to his nice Jewish family, this intimate tragi-comic family portrait lays bare the nature of dependence and love.

After Tiller,” by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson (USA)
Personal struggles, compassion and moments of deeply rooted self-doubt reveal a deeply human portrait of the only four remaining doctors willing to provide third-trimester abortions in the USA.

Anita” by Freida Mock (USA)
In 1991, Anita Hill’s powerful testimony against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas brought sexual harassment into America’s national spotlight. For the first time on film, she speaks about the testimony that shaped her life.

Blood Brother,” by Steve Hoover (USA)
Surprised by his friend’s sudden move to India to care for HIV-positive orphans, the director follows on what he suspects is a self-centered journey of self-discovery, only to find both their lives forever changed in this Sundance award-winner.

Caucus” by AJ Schnack (USA)
Republican leadership hopefuls compete at the 2012 Iowa Caucus amidst a battlefield of county fairs and petting zoos. This is a different behind- the-scenes look at politics, offering remarkable access to candidates and a very unlikely underdog story.

Continental” by Malcolm Ingram (USA, Canada)
Continental is a stylish portrait of the legendary NYC gay bathhouse that became a force for a sexual revolution, where Bette Midler honed her chops and straight celebs rubbed shoulders with hunky men in towels.

“The Crash Reel” by Lucy Walker (USA)
At the height of his career, just days away from the Olympics, championship snowboarder Kevin Pearce was left fighting for his life after a major brain trauma. The Crash Reel is a high adrenaline film about discovering what’s most important.

Fatal Assistance” by Raoul Peck (France, Haiti, USA, Belgium)
The director, Haiti’s former minister of culture, reveals international aid to be a resounding failure rife with organizational ineptitude, broken promises and hidden agendas in this eye-opening condemnation of post-disaster naiveté.

Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children” by Patrick Reed (Canada)
When you’ve been to hell and back, how do
you shake the memories? Celebrated author and humanitarian LGeneral (ret’d) Roméo Dallaire travels to four countries on a new mission: to end the use of child soldiers.

Gideon's Army” by Dawn Porter (USA)
In this study of exceptional grace under extreme pressure, a trio of public defenders makes considerable personal sacrifices to shield their indigent clients from the full weight of the judicial system.

God Loves Uganda” by Roger Ross Williams (USA)
Uganda has become a battleground between human rights groups and the American Evangelical movement, which uses money and fabrications to promote anti-homosexuality laws, many of which carry mandatory death sentences and create a modern theocracy.

High Five: A Suburban Adoption Saga” by Julia Ivanova (Canada)
A suburban Canadian couple travels to Ukraine to adopt five siblings, ages 6–16. The successful adoption, however, is just the beginning of a four-year odyssey to create a family.

Let The Fire Burn” by Jason Osder (USA)
Why did Philadelphia police bomb a row house occupied by radical group “MOVE” in 1985? What caused authorities to stand idly by for over an hour before fighting the blaze? Using archival material, this film investigates the ultimately tragic conflict.

The Machine Makes Everything Disappear” by Tinatin Gurchiani (Georgia, Germany)
In her home country of Georgia, the director organizes a casting call. Collecting a series of “auditions,” she captures extraordinary stories about war, love, dreams and poverty through the eyes of modern-day Georgian youth.

Muscle Shoals” by Greg Camalier (USA)
Mick Jagger, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Gregg Allman, Bono and more share how the tiny backwater town of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, made them stars in one of the greatest untold American music stories.

Narco Cultura” by Shaul Schwarz (USA)
With the rise of Mexican drug wars has come a musical culture that glamorizes the violence and those who perpetrate it. Following a new kind of superstar, Narco Cultura delves into the tragic and disturbingly glorified conflict.

Our Nixon” by Penny Lane (USA)
500 reels of long-forgotten super 8 footage unwittingly recorded by three of Richard Nixon’s most trusted associates form the raw material for this revealing behind-the-scenes look at one of the most controversial presidencies in US history.

Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer” by Maxim Pozdorovkin, Mike Lerner (U.K.)
This candid look at Pussy Riot unmasks the brains behind the balaclavas of the next wave of Russian revolutionaries, and shows how one act of protest led to a show trial that captured the world’s attention.

Quality Balls – The David Steinberg Story” by Barry Avrich (Canada)
Second only to Bob Hope for guest appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, David Steinberg influenced a generation of comedians from John Belushi to Larry David—not bad for a Jewish kid from Winnipeg.