Hot Docs festival documentaries portray real Canada


Hot Docs festival documentaries portray real Canada

Want to know what Canada is really like? Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, North America’s largest documentary film festival, showcased a number of true-to-life moments earlier this month at the event held in Toronto.

If you’re wondering what to expect on your holiday in Canada, these uplifting short films are sure to give you a taste for the place. Find out which made our movie rental list below:

Aim for the Roses

This unique music-documentary is a many-layered look at ambition and honouring childhood heroes in Canada. At first the film delivers the story of the Canadian stuntman Ken Carter, who in 1976 daringly jumped over the St. Lawrence Seaway in a Lincoln Continental. Not to be repeated with your Canada car rental, the professional stuntman adapted his vehicle with a rocket to make it the one mile over the St. Lawrence River in Ontario.

Since the 1950s the St. Lawrence Seaway has provided access to a number of locks, lakes and rivers from the Atlantic. It stretches from Lake Ontario past some of Canada’s greatest cities and the Thousand Islands that lie between the country’s border with the U.S. Following this river’s course in Canada is a great way to visit destinations such as Montreal and Quebec, particularly as the waters are home to an abundance of wildlife and make for ideal spots for whale watching in Canada.

The lyrics narrating this documentary talk the audience through how this monumental event inspired musician Mark Haney to pay tribute to his hero in the 2011 concept album titled Aim for the Roses. In turn, this music has inspired the documentary about two men who choose to make a statement with their performances as a stuntman and a composer. Director John Bolton manages to draw comparisons in the lives of these two very different eccentrics, taking us on a fun journey of risk-taking and the sheer mad pursuit of goals in Canada today and years gone by.

Spirit Unforgettable

Pete McCormack’s film is a moving portrayal of the impact that memory loss has on a creative mind. Following the front man of Celtic Canadian band Spirit of the West as he comes to terms with the reality of early onset Alzheimer’s, Spirit Unforgettable merges archival footage of singer John Mann with touching anecdotes from the people around him.

Spirit of the West recently played an emotional farewell gig, fittingly in the band’s hometown of Vancouver at the Commodore Ballroom – a venue with quite the list of iconic performances. Sadly, as revealed in McCormack’s film, Mann has struggled to hold on to the politically poetic lyrics that the band is known for. Yet this film is not full of sorrow but rather a testament to band morale and a celebration of one of Canada’s much-loved creatives.

If you’re a fan of the band and want to see other groups under the Irish influence in Vancouver, the city’s annual Celtic Fest is well worth a visit in spring 2017.

Image Credit: Sergey Ashmarin (

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