Saturday, April 21, 2007

HotDocs #3: Why the Bloor is My Least Favorite Venue...and: Girls, Rock! RAWKS!

I’d like to take a moment to talk about pee. More specifically, peeing. More specifically than that, peeing at the Bloor Cinema...which is a pain in the bum if you’re a woman. Pun fully intended.


Because the Bloor is a theater that seats more than 800, yet they only have THREE toilets for us girls. Three. So even if only half of a packed house is made up of women, that’s upwards of 400 people trying to tame full bladders long enough to stand in a massive line and wait for an open stall. For someone who drinks as much water as I do, this is a nightmare.

Now, the Bloor Cinema is a historic landmark and a gorgeous theater and it routinely screens great movies at low prices, but for an event like HotDocs – where theaters often fill to capacity – it suddenly becomes seriously unfriendly to users who need to pee. I mention this because I saw two films at the Bloor today, and both skewed to a decidedly female demographic. Guess how long the washroom lines were?


By comparison, the Isabel Bader Theatre is magnificent. Pristine, new and, with a seating capacity of only 500, a whopping TEN women’s toilets! Even the tiny Innis Town Hall, which only has 200 seats, offers its female visitors five stalls from which to choose. Three toilets for 800 seats is just a sad, uncomfortable ratio and, trivial as it may seem, it’s something that will definitely factor into my future screening selections. There’s only so much I can hold in for so long!

Moving on...

My first film today was Yoga, Inc (5/8), an entertaining but not wholly satisfying look at the commercialization of yoga in the United States. Examining the relationship between commerce and what’s *supposed* to be a spiritual pursuit, the film spends a great deal of time demonstrating how the yoga phenomenon has exploded in the U.S., and how Bikram Choudhry, the Harvey Weinstein of the industry, is almost a cult-leader-like creep. But I think director John Philp missed a prime opportunity for comedy and insight by never asking any of his interview subjects – some of whom are fanatical -- why they do yoga. Why is it so important to them? What do they get out of it? I’d guess that more than a few would have given gems of answers.

Oh, and it was preceded by a very short short, Liquidman (5/8), which profiles a free diver and features some lovely underwater photography.

After the film was over, I spent two hours walking around the city. I had a veggie dog from a street vendor for dinner, and sat on the steps of the ROM to people watch while I ate it. It was beautiful out today, so it was a perfect, shady spot to unwind. I wanted an soft-serve ice cream cone (chocolate/vanilla twist, since you ask), but was unable to find an ice cream truck from which to procure one. So, back in line!

I’m thrilled to report that the one movie I was desperate to see at HotDocs was just as wonderful as I’d hoped. Girls, Rock! (7/8) RAWKED! Much in the same way that I loved Summercamp! back at TIFF, or Spellbound before that, I was totally into this doc about a Portland, OR, rock & roll camp for girls. (I know, shocking, right? It’s not like I’m a fan of girl bands or anything. Quit snickering.) Centering on four colorful campers – death-metal fan Laura, precocious 7-year-old Palace, bespectacled chatterbox Amelia and newbie bassist Misty – the film looks at ups and downs in the week-long experience and how, as one tearful mother puts it, the camp instructors (all musicians themselves) “teach the girls how to treat other girls.” Punctuated by hyper-saturated animated sequences with random grrrrl-power factoids, it’s a rockin’, rollin' and remarkably insightful good time. With a killer soundtrack. Someone needs to get a screener to Ellen or Oprah, pronto.

Since I’m bound by the review constraints laid out by the fest, I have to reserve my full review for later...much later, it turns out, since the film won’t start unspooling near you until late-2007 or 2008. In the meantime, you can find out everything you wanted to know (and much more!) about the film and the camp on your own.

You can even watch the trailer! Or a a second trailer!

What I want to know is: how can I get one of the skully camp T-shirts the girls wear in the film? If anyone’s driving past the camp, swing in and see if they’re for sale!

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