Reviews: @hotdocs 2021 “Death of My Two Fathers” and “The Hairdresser” #HotDocs21

The Death of My Two Fathers is a deeply personal journey of facing that which we often fear most: death and ourselves. By bearing witness to the reality of his father’s life, and death, Sol Guy unpacks the meaning of fatherhood, family, race, and identity to realize that we must all face where we come from in order to be more prepared for who we may become.


I’ve been thinking a lot about what it’s going to be like when I lose my parents. It’s an ache that always finds its way into my throat within seconds of entertaining those thoughts. This film articulates the lead up to the loss of a parent and the remnants that are left after they are gone. A true love letter to parents.

Kathleen is a hairdresser. Always has been, always will be. Even at 83 she is still doing hair. But not in the way you would expect. Her work is special. In this short, poetic documentary, Kathleen reflects upon her experience as we bear witness to her unusual work.


I’ve been watching my elderly father’s hair grow long over this pandemic. It reminded me that he still holds so much health even though he is 81. After watching this film, it made me think more deeply about what he sees when he looks in the mirror. Does he see his younger self embedded in the gray? What does he feel in his aging body? We put so much energy into our youth and staying young and beautiful. Why don’t we celebrate our elderly’s aging beauty with just as much enthusiasm?

Reviews: @hotdocs 2021 “Last Days At Sea” and “The Big Scary “S” Word” #HotDocs21

Twelve-year-old Reyboy will soon be leaving his home village of Karihatag to attend school in the city. He loves the sea, the constant sound of waves in his ears and looking towards the wide horizon stretching out before his eyes. The small community in which his family lives, stoically endures the challenges of poverty, overfishing and rural exodus. Despite Reyboy’s pending departure, his parents hope that by saying goodbye, they will give him the opportunity to have a better future. Venice Atienza closely accompanies the boy during this time and together they become immersed in the place of his childhood. They observe the stars and the rhythms of the ocean, decipher cloud images and experience time standing still. The lyrical composition of words and images profoundly cast light on Reyboy’s point of view.


Quietly meditative and full of moments that make you feel you could have done more or better for someone in your past.

THE BIG SCARY “S” WORD delves into the rich history of the American socialist movement and journeys with the people striving to build a socialist future today.


We maybe Canadian but after this pandemic year, I wonder, where do we stand on the idea of democratic socialism?

Check out! @hotdocs 2021 “Molecules” and “A Black Jesus” #HotDocs21

Molecules which recounts how filmmaker Andrea Segre reconnects with his late father’s hometown of Venice, which he explores while free of tourists during the pandemic lockdown.

For many centuries, in a small town on the southern border of Europe, people have been worshipping a statue of a black Jesus. 19-year old Edward from Ghana, guest of the refugee center which is the subject of great debate in the village, asks to carry the statue in the annual procession and to stand next to the white locals that bear its cart. The community is divided. On a journey exploring the source of fear and prejudice against “the others”, the inhabitants of this small European village are called upon to question their own identity, starting with the very icon of their own belief: a black Jesus.

Check out! @hotdocs 2021 “Generation Utoya” #HotDocs21

Generation Utoya by Norwegian filmmakers Aslaug Holm (BROTHERS, which clinched Best Documentary Feature at Hot Docs five years ago) and Sigve Endresen (producer of THELMA, LOUDER THAN BOMBS, etc…).

It follows four women, all of them being survivors of the horrible attacks at Utoya in Norway from 10 years ago. The film is very much about how pervasive right-wing extremism is, not only in Norway, but to me anyway it really echoed what’s been happening in Poland in terms of women’s rights, and of course the shocking insurrection that took place in Washington on January 6 earlier this year. Generation Utoya very much looks at ONE awful incident as a warning of what could be unleashed if we do not tackle things head on. In that particular respect, I find that the film is really quite timely. But on another level, the film is also about the resilience of four women, two of which in particular, who used their traumatic experiences to become politically active and to do what it takes to ensure that their country does not witness another horrific act.

National Film Board of Canada’s Guaranteed WINS @hotdocs 2021 ” Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy”, “Someone Like Me” and “Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again” #HotDocs21

Elle–Máijá Tailfeathers’ film witnesses radical and profound change in her community. Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy is an intimate portrait of survival, love and the collective work of healing in the Kainai First Nation in Southern Alberta, a Blackfoot community facing the impacts of substance use and a drug-poisoning epidemic.

Community members active in addiction and recovery, first responders and medical professionals implement harm reduction to save lives. This work is contextualized within the historical and contemporary impacts of settler colonialism; Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy draws a connecting line between the effects of colonial violence on Blackfoot land and people and the ongoing substance-use crisis.

Held in love and hope for the future, Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy asks the audience to be a part of this remarkable change with the community.

In Sean Horlor and Steve J. Adams’ feature doc Someone Like Me, Drake, a young gay man from Uganda, leaves behind everything he knows to attain the universal freedoms everyone deserves: to be who he is and love whomever he chooses without fear of discrimination, persecution, or violence. A group of queer strangers unite to resettle Drake in Vancouver, but they are tasked with a year-long commitment to someone they’ve never met, and struggle with the challenging conditions of this support. Together, Drake and his sponsors embark on an emotional journey in search of personal freedom, revealing how in a world where one must constantly fight for the right to exist, survival itself becomes a victory.

Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again shares the powerful story of Mary Two-Axe Earley, who fought for more than two decades to challenge sex discrimination against First Nations women embedded in Canada’s Indian Act and became a key figure in Canada’s women’s rights movement.

Using never-before-seen archival footage and audio recordings, Mohawk filmmaker Courtney Montour engages in a deeply personal conversation with the late Mohawk woman who challenged sexist and genocidal government policies that stripped First Nations women and children of their Indian status when they married non-Indian men.

Montour speaks with Cree activist Nellie Carlson, Mary’s lifelong friend and co-founder of Indian Rights for Indian Women, and meets with three generations in Mary’s kitchen in Kahnawà:ke to honour the legacy of a woman who galvanized a national network of allies to help restore Indian status to thousands of First Nations women and children.

MUST WATCH! @hotdocs 2021 “Only I Can Hear”, “Portrayal”, “Secrets from Putomayo”, “Songs That Flood The River”, “Testimony of Ana” and “The Voice Break Choir” #HotDocs21

“I’ve always wanted to be deaf,” says 15-year-old Nyla. She’s the only hearing person in her family going back five generations and views her ability to hear as both a gift and a curse. Itaru Matsui and Heath Cozens weave together the fascinating experiences of four children of deaf adults—also known as CODAs—and the challenges and joys they face living between these two worlds.

“This moving and fascinating film about a young man’s investigation into his family’s unspoken secret unfolds like a taut thriller, placing the viewer beside him on his harrowing journey to get to the heart of this profound mystery. Both historical and deeply personal, “Portrayal” is a powerful human tale about the meaning of family, legacy, authorship, and the porous nature of truth.”

In 1910, the British consul in Rio de Janeiro, Roger Casement, undertook an investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity committed against indigenous communities by the British-financed Peruvian Amazon Company. Recording what he witnessed in a diary, Secrets of the Putumayo reveals a system of industrialized abuse and slavery that, once exposed, shook the foundations of the modern world. It is a story that we have tried hard to forget. More than a century later, the struggles of those same Amazon communities for rights to self-determination and basic justice endure in the face of new waves of market-led development. This film, by Brazilian film-maker Aurélio Michiles, translates into cinema my edition of ‘The Amazon Journal of Roger Casement’.

Oneida was a child when she learned how to sing alabados, traditional funeral songs used by black communities in Colombia to secure a safe return to the realm of the souls. When she was eight years old, a snake devoured her left leg, leaving her for life in a village set deep in the jungle and stricken by the terror of war.

In 2002, her village suffer one of the most cruel massacres in the country. Oneida fights her fears by writing songs that use the melody of alabados over lyrics that portrait her reality. Her scars are the source of her strength and her songs are the voice of millions that claim for peace in one of the longest wars in history.

In this poetic trip around the world, the oyster – with its sensual and lavish associations – acts as metaphor to explore human drives and desires. Linking stories of a New York burlesque dancer, French Michelin-starred chefs, a Swedish oyster diver, a Japanese pearl maker and a terminally ill English psychologist, the documentary by Willemiek Kluijfhout – narrated by the voice of desire – dives into the intricate nature of our deepest yearnings and quest for self-fulfilment.

Anaben Pawar is an elderly tribal woman accused of witchcraft in rural India. Through Ana,s story, we delve into a deep-rooted culture of patriarchy and examine one of the most monstrous attacks on women,s bodies in modern India: the witch hunt.

As the members of the Stockholm Boys’ Choir’s voices begin to crack, they are placed in a quarantine choir. As they inhabit this liminal space between boyhood and manhood, these young men share with us their most intimate hopes, fears, desires—and, of course, the music that is so central to their lives.

REVIEW: @hotdocs 2021 “We Are The Thousand” #HotDocs21

Fan of rock music, Fabio wants to convince the Foo Fighters to perform in his little village in Italy. What did he end up doing? Well, he gathered 1,000 musicians to play their favourite tune. Simple. An epic rockumentary if you need a change from the usual HD pace. Honestly, why can’t we get our act together to get Radiohead to come back to Toronto?

REVIEW: @hotdocs 2021 “Through The Night” #HotDocs21

To make ends meet, Americans are working longer hours across multiple jobs. This modern reality of non-stop work has resulted in an unexpected phenomenon: the flourishing of 24-hour daycare centers. Through the Night is a verité documentary that explores the personal cost of our modern economy through the stories of two working mothers and a child care provider – whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center.


One of the best documentary’s of the festival. A true story of love and the power of humanity.

REVIEWS: @hotdocs 2021 “Welcome to Spain”, “Taming The Garden” and “Raise The Bar” #HotDocs21

When Seville’s last brothel is repurposed into a refugee reception centre, cameras move in to capture the newcomers’ impressions of Spanish life. With 1970s style and satire, the migrant crisis comes into a refreshingly human focus.


“Welcome to Spain” provides a wonderful lens into migration stories that are often ignored. I appreciated hearing the youth’s point of view. It encouraged me to ponder how we can better support newcomer youth in Canada.

Giant ancient trees are traded for much desired cash and sent to an adventurous journey through land and sea.


A haunting documentary that will make you want to visit a tree in your neighbourhood and not be socially distant.

Raise the Bar is an Icelandic documentary about the controversial journey of a girls basketball team under the direction of coach Brynjar Karl Sigurðsson.


A different take on Mamba mentality? But is it?

e-Ticket GIVEAWAY!: The 9th annual TORONTO JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL returns Saturday, October 3 to Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre’s unprecedented 9th annual TORONTO JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL will be held online from Saturday, October 3 to Thursday, October 22 and features 22 films using the SHIFT72 festival platform.  For the first time, TJFF is expanding its reach beyond Toronto to audiences across all of Canada, maintaining the festival’s sense of community while promoting friendship, understanding, and exchange between the Japanese and broader Canadian community.   The festival has grown into one of the largest film events of its kind in the world and is recognized by the Japanese film industry as a vital conduit for bringing Japanese film to international audiences.


Thank you to the TORONTO JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL for gifting Thirty Four Flavours with e-Tickets to 5 of their prestigious films listed below.

How do you enter? The first 5 readers who email (, tweet or dm me with your choice will get an e-Ticket to watch the film online in the comfort of their own home! The deadline is October 1. 2020!


Based on the devastating best-seller from Naoki-Award winning novelist Rio Shimamoto. Toko is married and raising a lovely daughter in her husband’s luxurious family home. Her life is comfortable but she feels an emptiness. At a wedding reception she meets the handsome and mysterious Kurata, her lover from 10 years ago. Falling helplessly into the throes of a deep passion, they embark on an intense and doomed affair that takes them far into “snow country” and the extremes of emotion. Starring Kaho, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Tasuku Emoto, Shotaro Mamiya, Reiko Kataoka.


“Sumikkogurashi” are the popular San-X characters who prefer to live quiet and solitary life in the corner. They are Shirokuma, a polar bear who dislikes the cold, Penguin? who is unsure of being a penguin, Tonkatsu, a piece of leftover pork cutlet, Neko, a timid and anxious cat, and Tokage, a dinosaur who pretends to be a lizard. One day, at their favourite coffee shop, they are drawn into the basement by a strange noise and find themselves in a mysterious flying picture book where they pursue strange and magical adventures. Narrated by Yoshihiko Inohara and Manami Honjo.


Erika Yoshioka is a reporter for the Toto Newspaper. Obtaining an anonymous fax containing highly confidential information related to the building plan for a new university, she decides to investigate. Meanwhile, Takumi Sugihara is a bureaucrat in the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office whose job is to control the media and prevent unfavorable coverage of the government. He is shocked when his esteemed former superior Kanzaki commits suicide. When Erika Yoshioka and Takumi Sugihara connect with each other, a shocking truth is revealed. Inspired by the controversial nonfiction book by Tokyo Newspaper journalist Mochizuki Isoko. Starring Tori Matsuzaka, Eun-kyung Shim, Tsubasa Honda, Tetsushi Tanaka.


Satoshi Makino is a brilliant classical guitarist who performs at the world’s top concert theatres. On tour, he meets Paris-based journalist Yoko Komine and their attraction is immediate and intense. But Yoko has a fiancé. Together they must navigate a twisting road of passion, loyalty and guilt. Sweeping in scale and gorgeously photographed, this international romance – filmed in Japan, Paris and New York – boast charismatic performances from some of Japan’s leading actors. Based on Keiichiro Hirano’s best-selling novel. Starring Masaharu Fukuyama, Yuriko Ishida, Yusuke Iseya, Yuki Sakurai, Ikko Furuya.


This intense erotic drama finds Kenji drifting home to Akita after the collapse of his marriage and career. He is there to attend the wedding of his past lover Naoko who still keeps an album of erotic photos tracing their relationship. She invites him to share her bed for one last night of intimacy but a single night proves inadequate to contain their passion and they set off on a five-day road trip. As the intensity of their erotic escape escalates, and with the return to Naoko’s fiancé imminent, they face a terrible decision. Physically explicit and emotionally raw. Starring Tasuku Emoto, Kumi Takeuchi.




Twitter:  @TorontoJFF

Instagram:  @japanesecanadianculturalcentre

For full program, ticket and box-office info go to: