To celebrate Hot Docs’ 30th anniversary, here are our top five art and design films showing at this year’s festival
Hot Docs celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with a wide variety of inspiring films from Canadian and international documentarians and filmmakers. The non-profit is screening films at Scotiabank Theatre, TIFF Bell Lightbox, and The Hot Docs cinema now through May 7, with select films available online. This year, the renowned festival showcases a range of short and full-length features ranging from animation to live-action, each telling beautiful, informative and striking stories.
With over 100 screenings happening this year, we’ve selected a few must-see pictures with a focus on art, design, technology, architecture, urban planning and sustainability.
Algorithms of Beauty
Algorithms of Beauty explores the complex systems of AI through the simple question of asking: is this flower beautiful? The film celebrating its North American premiere at Hot Docs seeks to answer this question through performing an AI experiment with botanist Mary Delany’s 300-year-old essay on mosaic flowers. This film views the intersection between technology and human perception, and challenges the ways we see and understand the imperfections of beauty.
Director Dan Ashby paints the journey of renowned artist John Sabraw as he builds an artful solution to pollution in this 12-minute feature. Based in a former coal town, Sabraw wanders caves to extract pollutants from rivers in aims to turn environmental toxins into pigments. If you’re attending this year’s festival, Beautiful Poison is not one to miss.
The Floating World
Blending the mystical and realistic, The Floating World brings festival goers along the adventure of a university student as she becomes transported into a 19th century Japanese painting to help her with her environmental studies assignment. Based in Edo, modern-day Tokyo, the student views a variety of daily sustainable practices that help the country overcome environmental disaster as she travels through time. Director Hiroshi Yokota uses fantasy to tell a story of hope through design within our climate crisis.
The Silent House
For Hot Docs 2023, siblings and directors Farnaz and Mohammadreza Jurabchian use their family memories to capture the historical changes of their house and Iran over the course of 40 years. Beginning this story with their grandfather’s initial purchase of the property with the hopes of having it be a home for generations to come, The Silent House sees how architecture holds memories, stories of celebration and uncertainty, and highlights the challenges the house faces externally and internally over the course of its lifetime.
Someone Lives Here
Someone Lives Here follows Khaleel Seivwright’s efforts to making a change to Toronto’s housing crisis as he quits his full-time job as a carpenter to create “tiny shelters” throughout the city. Director Zack Russell documents the ups and downs of Seivwright’s project from the international media coverage and public support, to the partnership withdrawal from Toronto. Shining a spotlight on those experiencing homelessness, this Hot Docs premiere captures the impact and challenges Seivwright faces helping those who need it most and makes us question government shortcomings in relation to this humanitarian crisis.