The Review/News/

TIFF Docs 2017 features stories of boundary breakers

Legendary musicians, a president, fashion royalty, and so much more

by Thom Powers
Aug 1, 2017 @ 9:59am

TIFF’s 2017 documentary lineup goes deep into the lives of boundary-pushing characters — Grace Jones, Jim Carrey, Jane Goodall, and Eric Clapton, to name only a few of the most famous. But the celebrity factor isn’t enough to make a great film. What sets these docs apart is their directors’ ability to a bring fresh perspective.

Azmaish: A Journey through the Subcontinent

BOOM FOR REAL The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Then there are figures whose names you may not recognize, but they become unforgettable after you see them on screen. They include Scotty Bowers, who was a sexual procurer for the stars, profiled in Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood; Nick Bollettieri, known among tennis aficionados as a controversial coach, interviewed in Love Means Zero; Julita Salmerón, the eccentric Spanish matriarch who undergoes a rise and fall of fortune in Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle; and Kabwita Kosongo, the Congolese labourer who struggles against harsh conditions to support his family in Makala.

Cocaine Prison

Makala

Politics plays a big role in several films. The most obvious is The Final Year, in which cameras follow key foreign policy makers in Barack Obama’s administration. The China Hustle raises troubling questions about financial deregulation. Ex Libris - The New York Public Library takes us into one of the most open institutions in America. Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! has a comedic touch, but asks serious questions about government oversight of food. Cocaine Prison examines the effects of the drug war in Bolivia. Azmaish: A Journey through the Subcontinent explores political currents in Pakistan and India.

The theme of resistance is prominent in films such as Silas on the Liberian activist Silas Siakor; The Judge on the Middle East's first female Shari'a judge Kholoud Al-Faqih; and The Other Side of Everything on the Serbian dissident Srbijanka Turajlić. The Legend of the Ugly King covers the Kurdish filmmaker and revolutionary Yilmaz Güney, while One of Us is about three members of New York’s Hasidic Jewish community who seek to enter the secular world.

The Legend of the Ugly King

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

At TIFF 2016, one of the major breakout titles was I Am Not Your Negro on James Baldwin. This year's Festival features a notable array of prominent black cultural figures on film, including Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me on the multi-talented and controversial performer; The Gospel According to André, on the fashion trendsetter André Leon Talley; and BOOM FOR REAL The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat on the formative years of the acclaimed artist.

Whether you're looking for celebrities, musicians, dissidents, coaches, fashion gods, artists, librarians, judges, or exceptional individuals in other walks of life, the stories in this year's TIFF Docs lineup prove that in 2017, true stories can be stranger than — and as surprising as — fiction.

The Gospel According to André

JIM & ANDY: the Great Beyond - the story of Jim Carrey & Andy Kaufman featuring a very special, contractually obligated mention of Tony Clifton

The full list of TIFF Docs films announced today:

Azmaish: A Journey through the Subcontinent | Sabiha Sumar, Pakistan
North American Premiere

BOOM FOR REAL The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat | Sara Driver, USA
World Premiere

The China Hustle | Jed Rothstein, USA
World Premiere

Cocaine Prison | Violeta Ayala, Australia/Bolivia/France/USA
World Premiere

Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars | Lili Fini Zanuck, United Kingdom
World Premiere

Ex Libris - The New York Public Library | Frederick Wiseman, USA
North American Premiere

The Final Year | Greg Barker, USA
World Premiere

The Gospel According to André | Kate Novack, USA
World Premiere

Documentary Programme Opening Film
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami | Sophie Fiennes, United Kingdom/Ireland
World Premiere

JIM & ANDY: the Great Beyond - the story of Jim Carrey & Andy Kaufman featuring a very special, contractually obligated mention of Tony Clifton | Chris Smith, USA/Canada
North American Premiere

Jane | Brett Morgen, USA
World Premiere

The Judge | Erika Cohn, Palestine/USA
World Premiere

The Final Year

Jane

The Legend of the Ugly King | Hüseyin Tabak, Germany/Austria
World Premiere

Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle | Gustavo Salmerón, Spain
North American Premiere

Love Means Zero | Jason Kohn, USA
World Premiere

Documentary Programme Closing Film
Makala | Emmanuel Gras, France
North American Premiere

OF SHEEP AND MEN | Karim Sayad, Switzerland/Qatar
World Premiere

One of Us | Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, USA
World Premiere

The Other Side of Everything | Mila Turajlić, Serbia/France/Qatar
World Premiere

Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me | Sam Pollard, USA
World Premiere

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood | Matt Tyrnauer, USA
World Premiere

Silas | Anjali Nayar and Hawa Essuman, Canada/South Africa/Kenya
World Premiere

Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! | Morgan Spurlock, USA
World Premiere

Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!

The China Hustle


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