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In the Year of Hip Hop

Originally Appearing on: dorkshelf.com

It has only been about 5 days into the festival, and Hot Docs is turning out to be a pretty thought provoking exercise for me. Working for dorkshelf.com, I first thought that reviewing these films would be similar to other jobs I’ve done covering festival material. However, the films I’ve seen at Hot Docs so far have been intimate and time consuming (mostly in the best way), and this goes to show that even though the standard documentary’s running time is only just over an hour, these experiences pack a serious punch.

With about 1 week left of the festival, I strongly urge you to check a film out (its free during the day for seniors and students!).

Find schedules and film info by clicking here!

There will be more to come!

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G-Dog

Director: Freida Mock

Program: Youth & Children

Running Time: 92 Minutes

Recommended? Yes, Strongly and with a box of Kleenex

For the homeboys and girls who sport “nothing stops a bullet like a job” t-shirts in G-Dog, they are living proof of the truth to this statement. Started by priest Gregory Boyle, Homeboy Industries began as a work program offering jobs to recently released felons and kids growing up in Los Angeles’ worst gang territories.

Homeboy Industries started as a means to help members of a community Boyle felt were being completely neglected by the system. From these humble beginnings, Boyle has forged many lifelong relationships with legions of home boys and girls.

As director Frieda Mock investigates Homeboy Industries’ mission, we see that this center for recovering criminals offers drug rehabilitation, parenting classes, even laser tattoo removal all in the hopes of giving honest hard working people a chance to restart. When Homeboy Industries is threatened by a serious budget deficit, Boyle finds out that he needs this tight community of ex gang bangers as much as they need him.

In the Year of Hip HopDirector:Boris PetkovicProgram:Made in Southeastern EuropeRunning TIme: 71 Minutes

Recommended? Yes, Not Strongly

“People can’t just identify with your story if it’s just about: I roll joints, I smoke all the time, oh yeah, hip hop, street, gun kill, stab…that’s just hilarious” says a Slovenian MC in Boris Petkovic’s In the Year of Hip Hop. It is with this desire to keeping it real that Slovenian MC’s ground their funky, punk-infused songs, setting Slovene rap apart from all the rest.

In the Year of Hip Hop gets accounts from several pioneering Slovene rappers like 6 Pack Cukur, N’Toko, and Klemen Klemen. Their testimonies show just how far this art form has come from its comedic origins to now being utilized to raise awareness to problems of unemployment and government neglect.

With song lyrics that push divisive agendas like “Englishmen are moving here because of our cake” and “the whole Slovenian system is fucked up”, Petrovic shows just how entertaining a revolution can be.

Laura

Director: Fillipe Gamarano Barbosa

Program:  Mental Health

Running Time: 78 Minutes

Recommended? Yes, Strongly especially if you’re one of those people who like anything of the TLC variety

Laura situates itself at the intersection where Grey Gardens, Hoarders, and Entourage somehow meet. More simply put, I guess you could say that Fellipe Gamarano Barbosa’s documentary is really about Laura: a celebrity/glamour obsessed, New York City socialite vetera. Laura transcends any common place categorization and as the film progresses Barbosa’s ‘day in the life’ documentary becomes more like a ‘day in the head’ of the eclectic Brazilian émigré diva.

Although her garbs are demure and stylish, it is Laura’s apartment that is possibly the best indication of her neurosis. Laura’s chic apparel sits in an bedroom packed top to bottom with hundreds of flyers, VHS tapes, and anything else that has picked up on the streets over Laura’s 30 plus year occupation of New York. Barbosa continually evolves our understanding of thisthis masquerading woman who chooses to live her life with the utmost secrecy and privacy but admirably allows peace, respect, and a driving desire to enjoy life to ordain her solitary existence.

My Mate Manchester United

Director: Stefan Valdobrev

Program: Sports & Recreation

Running Time: 57 Minutes

Recommended? No- While heart warming, this film features many scenes of old Bulgarian men sitting around, drinking, and talking

As a sea of men clad in all red garments sit glued to a T.V. screen, intense looks of dedication and focus occupy each face. Director Stefan Valdobrev sets us amiss the excruciating suspense floating in the air as these men wait to see if Manchester United will score a much needed goal. As this small crowd erupts in raucous commotion once a goal is made, the joyful calamity that ensues makes it no surprise that Valdobrev chose football fandom as the subject for My Mate Manchester United.

Still, this early example of the diehard attitude many Manchester United fans exhibit is no match for Bulgarian construction worker Manchester United’s (yup, he legally changed his name is Manchester United) all out love for his favourite football team. As Valdobrev follows Manchester in his ultimate pursuit to meet his hero, Manchester United’s Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov, Manchester’s unwavering allegiance to this football club shows the admirable endurance of a fan’s heart.

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