Above and Below

Above and Below melds three very different ‘living situations’ together into one documentary: A couple living in the storm sewers below Las Vegas; A man living alone in a abandoned army base in the desert; and a woman living in a Mars simulation world in the desert. Oh, there’s another guy who lives in the sewers too (but he seems to have a lesser role the documentary).
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Dreamcatcher follows around Brenda, a former prostitute who runs a foundation that helps women in Chicago going through the same plight that she went through. Both through her foundation and through her day job, she counsels women who have been sexually abused, those in prostitution, and those who may be on the verge.
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Straight Up: The Issue of Alcohol in Ontario

Straight Up: The Issue of Alcohol in Ontario is all about the ridiculousness of how alcohol is sold in the province of Ontario. It talks about the history of how the LCBO (government owned) and The Beer Store (owned by three private multinational breweries) began, and how smaller producers of beer and wine in this province are at a huge disadvantage. Also, of note, is the select few ‘wine stores’ that are also limited to a handful of owners.

It generally shoots down many of the arguments that are used to defend the ‘controlled’ environment that alcohol is sold in, in Ontario:

  • More availability = more consumption problems (then why has the LCBO and The Beer Store expanded greatly of late? Why are stores becoming larger, with more attractive environments? Why does the LCBO promote extensively — from advertising to free high-gloss colour magazines?)
  • The need to control who has access (can a group that has been trusted for years to keep tobacco and lottery tickets out of the hands of youth not be trusted with alcohol sales?)

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Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story

The documentary Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story takes you through the details of how (and how much) food is wasted in today’s society. It’s far beyond you and me simply throwing out food that’s been rotting in the refrigerator. A bigger problem, it seems, is the waste that occurs before it reaches the consumer’s table.

The stat given is that a whopping 40% of food raised/grown is wasted.
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Love Me

Love Me takes us into the world of, essentially, the online version of mail order brides. A cross section of American (and one Aussie) men are featured – each considering the online-overseas method to find a wife – and happiness.

From the get go I figured this documentary would be nothing other than showing American men being scammed out of thousands of dollars and end up empty handed. Turns out I was only partially correct on that. There were some success stories – and some that screamed ‘scam’.
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The Starfish Throwers

The Starfish Throwers will likely do two things to you: 1) inspire you to do more to make a difference in the world, and 2) make you reevaluate your priorities in life.
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Slums: Cities of Tomorrow

The premise of Slums: Cities of Tomorrow is that slums are inevitable, even more present than before, and not really a bad thing. Footage is from “slums” in India, Morocco, France, Canada, the USA and other places. The contrast among the various worldly “slums” across the globe is obvious: In India it’s concrete homes without electricity or water; in New Jersey it’s a plot land with semi-permanent campers; in Canada it’s aboriginal in poor quality housing; in France, it’s people living in campers.
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The Internet’s Own Boy

Opening Hot Docs 2014 was The Internet’s Own Boy, a documentary about the life of internet pioneer Aaron Swartz. It takes you through the life of Aaron (as an incredibly smart kid, the creation of RSS, the creation and sale of Reddit, etc.) and, in that, Aaron’s development as a person dedicated to making information available to everyone — i.e. allow everyone to gain knowledge free online.

It was during this process to make information available to everyone, that he was caught downloading information from JSTOR (an online holding of academic journals and such) via MIT’s connection, however the end intention of that information wasn’t actually known. Some surmised that he was going to study the data and find a corruption link between study donors and the journal findings.
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Cocaine Cowboys

Cocaine Cowboys is an older documentary, but one that shouldn’t be overlooked. It takes you through the transition from what was once “Innocent Miami” to one where it became a huge drug import destination.

Where once marijuana was the import of choice, it was then replaced by cocaine courtesy of Columbian connections.
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Jingle Bell Rocks

Last night on TVO I watched ‘Jingle Bell Rocks‘, a documentary all about Christmas music (and those who seek it out and collect it). Overall, it was decent – with some great little bits of knowledge. That said, there were more than a couple of parts where I was awaiting the next scene (already!).
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