Time flies between Hot Docs: summer, TIFF, leaves change colour, the Holidays, politicians make all the wrong choices… and then it's Hot Docs all over again, where we get to dissect the last year's worldwide craziness and consider the depth of the issues confronting us and some of the possible solutions.

As always, we have taken a look at the schedule and have some ideas for lovers of cities and the political, economic, environmental, and social forces that are shaping them these days. So, what should you go see?

 Sasha Snow.London, in Push. Photo: Sasha Snow.

Push

It's hard to talk about cities these days without diving into the issue of affordability. Push builds a thorough case for its thesis that global capital has changed the way we accommodate people, and made housing unaffordable in cities across the world. We used to treat homes as places where people live; now housing is where the rich park cash. Award-winning director Fredrik Gertten follows Canadian Leilani Farha, recently appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, in her fight to define affordable housing as a fundamental human right. Filmed in cities around the world—including Toronto—where Push looks at how the housing crisis is being manifested in myriad ways, Farha convenes with a new breed of housing activist who aim to bring balance back to the building and selling of homes.

You have 4 chances to catch Push. The first two have already gone rush—just line up early enough at the cinema, and you should get in—but advance tickets are still available for the second two screenings.

FRI, APR 26, 9:15 PM, HOT DOCS CINEMA

SAT, APR 27, 4:00 PM, TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX

WED, MAY 1, 1:00 PM, TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX

SAT, MAY 4, 9:15 PM, HART HOUSE

Image from Havana, From On High, courtesy of Hot Docs 2019, TorontoImage from Havana, From On High, courtesy of Hot Docs

Havana From On High

This is one of the most beautifully filmed and colour-graded documentaries I have ever seen, taking place on the rooftops of that crumbling but gorgeous city, where some of Cuba's more eccentric and marginalized characters have retreated to. The world looks a little different up where mechanical penthouses have been converted into apartments for those who don't fit so well into the system. The rooftop dwellers' lives are limited in some ways, but feel somewhat unshackled in others, and bathed in Caribbean light from sunrise to sunset. It's at those extremes of the day when much of the most strikingly beautiful scenes were shot. Lives elevated from Havana's streets have a certain rough burnish to them, just like the patinated buildings themselves, with the film revelling in this rarified urban condition and its characters.

You have 3 chances to catch Havana From On High. The first two have already gone Rush - just line up early enough at the theatre, and you should get in—but advance tickets are still available for the last screening.

FRI, APR 26, 2:45 PM, TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX

SAT, APR 27, 10:15 AM, TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX

FRI, MAY 3, 10:00 AM, TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX

Dome Hollenstein and Sven Marquardt at Dome's Apartment from Beauty and Decay, ©Dome Hollenstein and Sven Marquardt at Dome's Apartment from Beauty and Decay, ©itworks

Beauty And Decay

If you didn't get enough beautifully decaying city in Havana, Beauty and Decay is a little more niche, for those of you who might like to travel back to a vibrant Berlin from a generation ago. Sven Marquardt, Dominique Hollenstein, and Robert Paris were all a part of the punk scene in East Berlin before the wall fell, performers who rebelled against the straight-jacket of the state-run society, and who have all evolved over the 30 years that have followed.

Marquardt became a bouncer at one of Berlin's most infamous clubs, but his real passion is photographing people, while Dome (Hollenstein) has been his model muse for years. Paris, whom they both adored, also shot the fashion shows they helped create, but he excelled in the settings, finding beauty and atmosphere in the decaying city that set the mood.

All three reminisce as they reconsider their past, Berlin's past, and where they and their city are now. Gorgeous, evocative photography throughout.

You have 3 chances to catch Beauty And Decay.

FRI, APR 26, 8:30 PM, SCOTIABANK

SAT, APR 27, 1:15 PM, TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX

SUN, MAY 5, 6:30 PM, SCOTIABANK

Click any of the film title links to be taken to the official Hot Docs page for that film.