Event Category: Screening

Pick of the Litter

A person holding the service dog harness of a yellow lab

The celebratory hit that won over Hot Docs audiences returns to warm our hearts just in time for the holidays. Follow the remarkable two-year journey of a rambunctious group of adorable Labrador puppies as they undergo the rigorous training required to become guide dogs. With intimate access to the dogs and their trainers, their struggles and the triumphs will have you cheering them on. Only the best of the best will be chosen for the job—who has what it takes to make the cut? For those who eventually get the pick of litter, it’s love at first lick.

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

A scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - Clark (Chevy Chase) is about to carve a turkey at the head of the table with guests seated around it

Chevy Chase leads this National Lampoon’s holiday favourite as family man Clark Griswold, whose attempts to put on a proper Christmas for his kin goes terribly and hilariously awry. From electric shocks to exploding turkeys to being under siege by a SWAT Team, it’s an unforgettable holiday get together that will make you better appreciate your dysfunctional family’s Christmas dinner snafus. With a stellar supporting cast featuring Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Juliette Lewis and a non-stop onslaught of laugh-out-loud gags from writer John Hughes, Christmas Vacation is a bonafide comedy classic.

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A Christmas Story

A scene from A Christmas Story - Santa Claus looking at a young child, with a white-gloved hand on the child's chin

Bob Clark’s hilarious holiday favourite A Christmas Story is back for another year! Poor little Ralphie. Like other nine-year-old children all over the country, all he wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder B.B. gun with a compass and “this thing that tells time.” But his mother, his teacher, and not to mention Santa Claus, have other ideas. “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Whether this is your first or 50th time watching, A Christmas Story is great for young and old alike. Join the Parker family for another year of dodging snowballs and smelly hound dogs!

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Love Actually

A scene from Love Actually - David (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) are waving while large white confetti rains down

Love is in the air this holiday season—a lot of love, and a lot of laughter. From the makers of Bridget Jones’s Diary and Notting Hill, comes a singularly splendid romantic comedy that’s overflowing with heartwarming romance, witty banter and Christmas cheer. Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2018, Love Actually shares the stories of eight couples and all the ways their lives intertwine with a star-studded cast featuring Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman and Keira Knightley.

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Home Alone Quote-Along

A scene from Home Alone in which Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is confronted by Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern)

Calling all ladies, gentlemen and little jerks: It’s time to don your ugly Christmas sweater for our fifth annual Home Alone quote-along! In true holiday tradition, we’re showing it with subtitles, karaoke-style, so you can get rowdy and shout out your favourite lines (“Buzz, your girlfriend, WOOF!”), scream with Kevin and enjoy some lovely cheese pizza. “Keep the change, ya filthy animal!”

8:30 PM: Doors Open
9:30 PM: Screening

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Of Fathers and Sons

Two people embracing on a road by the back of a pickup truck in a rocky, desert landscape

Exiled Syrian filmmaker Talal Derki returns to his homeland where he gains the trust of a radical Islamist family, sharing their daily life for over two years. With rare access inside their home, he shines a spotlight on the family’s two adolescent sons as they face assimilation into the ranks of armed combat. While Osama (13) seems content to follow his father’s path to Jihad, Ayman (12) would prefer to go back to school—but the road to radicalization is inevitable. A haunting family portrait of generational warfare, this Sundance-prized documentary is a work of unparallel intimacy that captures the chilling moment when childhood dies and jihadism is born.

In Arabic with English subtitles.

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The Silence of Others

A person holding a cane sits on the edge of a roadway by a metal guardrail

In 1977, Spain passed an amnesty law known as “the pact of forgetting,” prohibiting the prosecution of any crimes against humanity committed during the 40-year dictatorship of General Franco. But for survivors like José María “Chato” Galante, who passes by his torturer’s window every day, and Maria Martín, who can’t locate her mother’s remains to finally lay her to rest, there is no peace in silence. Filmed over six years, The Silence of Others follows a group of victims and their families as they launch the controversial “Argentine Lawsuit” and fight an urgent battle against state-imposed amnesia.

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Love, Scott

Portrait of Scott Jones looking up into the sky

After leaving a bar in a small town in Nova Scotia, musician Scott Jones was stabbed in the back for being openly gay. The violent attack left him paralyzed from the waist down. While Scott’s assailant was convicted, he was never charged with a hate crime – a widespread occurrence in Canada. Three years after the attack, Scott’s friend and director Laura Marie Wayne shares Scott’s story in her debut documentary Love, Scott. Juggling between the past and the present, the film eloquently conveys Scott’s experience living as a gay man in a small town, surviving the brutal attack and fighting for justice. Having created his own choir, Scott campaigns against homophobia, inciting positive change through love, dialogue and art. Featuring intimate interviews, archival footage and moving music, Wayne’s documentary encompasses different stages of Scott’s life to show one man’s transformation and resilience.

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Screening with: Being Okey accompanies a gay Nigerian as he waits for the response to his second asylum request. Okey reveals what it is like to live in Switzerland where homosexuality is legal but where he is not allowed to stay. And what it means to live in constant fear of being deported to Nigeria where he is considered a criminal just because of who he is. English, Swiss German with English subtitles.

The Rescue List

Two children leaning against an outdoor concrete wall with their elbow on the wall. One person's hand is resting on the other person's shoulder.

Child trafficking is rampant along Lake Volta, Ghana. Human traffickers trick poverty-stricken families into selling their children by using terms like “short term work” to disguise child enslavement. Children often disappear, with an estimated 20,000 children being currently exploited. Kwame, a survivor of child trafficking himself, spends his days on the lake rescuing enslaved children from the “slave masters.” After being rescued, the children stay in a rehabilitation centre for a year while the social workers locate their families. The Rescue List closely focuses on two children, Peter and Edem, during their one-year stay in the centre. The filmmakers delicately observe the kids as they work through trauma, take care of each other and prepare to return to their families. By capturing Kwame’s rescue operations alongside the children’s personal journey, this activist documentary offers a moving portrayal of survival, courage and recovery.

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Screening with:

Behind the Door – Jola’s Story: A story of loss, struggle and liberation. Jola who was trafficked from her home country of Nigeria when she was a child has spent the last decade being transported across different countries and cities. We begin to unravel the pieces of her individual story and her journey towards liberation. Subtitles: Open Captions (English)

The Distant Barking of Dogs

A child in a lake, submerged up to their shoulders

Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, an armed conflict erupted in Eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government. A mile from the war zone in Donbass lies the small village of Hnutove, a home to 10-year-old boy Oleg and his cousin Yarik. Oleg, Yarik and their grandmother are among few civilians left in the village. Although Oleg does regular kids activities, his childhood is interrupted by the nonstop sound of missiles striking in the distance. On some days the sound is louder, on others – stronger. Nevertheless, Oleg and his family live in constant fear. Learning about weaponry, bomb shelters and landmines at school, Oleg’s becoming desensitized to the conflict. Or is he just good at hiding it? Shot in scenic cinema verite style, Distant Barking of Dogs reveals the tragic consequences of war on a child’s psyche.

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Screening with:

My Country is Missing: As a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, 22-year Liza moves to Canada to study. Being far from family isn’t easy, but even more difficult is seeing that people around her aren’t aware of the troubles in her country. Subtitles: Open Captions (English).