Author Archives: thirtyfourflavours

About thirtyfourflavours

Canadian. South Asian. Lifestyle Writer. Master of Arts. Total sweetheart.

#HotDocs22 @hotdocs: STILL WORKING 9 TO 5 (May 7, 2022)

The film 9 to 5 has taken its place in American history as a beloved comedy with serious subject matter. Multiple generations know every lyric to the iconic theme song that has become an anthem for working women everywhere who seek fairness, equality and dignity from their male counterparts. After more than 40 years, the feature documentary Still Working 9 to 5 celebrates the iconic film, while chronicling the important impact it had on the women’s movement of the time and one that continues today.

Still Working 9 to 5 reunites stars Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dabney Coleman from original 9 to 5 film, as well as Rita Moreno from the 9 to 5 TV series, Allison Janney from the Broadway musical, and other stars from the television and stage versions of the classic film. Also featured are activists and individuals closely associated with the women’s movement both now and then.

The documentary explores the comedic tone of the film and how it resonated with a wide audience at a time when the feminist message was being rejected and/or feared by a large swathe of the population. It further follows how the success of the film spawned various 9 to 5 spin-offs including a TV series (1980s) and musicals (2009 & 2019), discussing the same issues addressed in the film (and its spinoffs) and questions if the message retains its original poignancy, as well as examining what has and has not changed for women in the workplace over the last 40 years.

Review: An optimistic and upbeat film that celebrates a feminist worldview. If you are a fan of the film or enjoy the work of Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton – this film is for you. A beautiful portrait into history which inspired women to embrace their gender, sexuality, and integrity.

Thirty Four Flavours Rating: 5/5 

Review: The Canadian Opera Company’s “The Magic Flute” from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (May 8, 11, 14, 17, 19, and 21, 2022)

It has been two long years since we have had an immersive opera experience that only the Canadian Opera Company can deliver. The time has come. The Canadian Opera Company welcomed back audiences with a warm heart last night with the opera fan favourite, “The Magic Flute” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

As I gazed upon the patrons, I noted some interesting things. The patrons looked excited. There were individuals with their partners, young families with children, single folks and seasoned opera goers. We were together again. The time was right.

“The Magic Flute” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was the perfect choice by the Canadian Opera Company to welcome patrons new and old back into their home. It is a fresh, funny and perfect mix of light dialogue and jovial music to put a smile onto your face. For seasoned opera goers, they were satiated with a classic piece of opera they knew very well. Like the lady sitting beside me last night who hummed throughout the first act. The young man sitting on the other side of me was still and watched every detail from the SURTITLES™, to the wardrobe, actors, orchestra pit and the glorious stage production. The audience was being taken care of. Care was slowly weaving itself into the room one second at a time as the music washed over the audience.

“The Magic Flute” wove in themes of wisdom, truth, and love from the outset. Turkish-born, Austria-based tenor, Ilker Arcayürek, stars as Tamino and bass-baritone Gordon Bintner as Papageno. These two gentlemen commanded a decadent stage presence. Arcayürek provided the heartbeat to the operatic piece while Bintner loosened the mood with a delicate balance of humour and passion. Tamino and Papageno invited the audience on their journey as they travelled to rescue the kidnapped Princess Pamina played by soprano, Anna-Sophie Neher. Neher contributed a soft elegance throughout the performance while also asserting her role as heroine.

The concept of “the play within a play” challenged the audience to bear witness to what the characters were experiencing in the moment. Soprano Midori Marsh plays Papagena whose colourful exchange with Papageno injected hope into the piece. Tenor, Michael Colvin, plays Monostatos, who’s talent astounds. Sopranos, Jamie Groote and Charlotte Siegel, and mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal played the First Lady, Second, Lady and Third Lady. These three individuals are the best kept secret of the production. They embodied everything that makes “The Magic Flute” the most exquisite piece of opera through their demonstration of humour, confidence and a certain girl power. Norwegian soprano Caroline Wettergreen made her COC main stage debut as the iconic Queen of the Night. Wettergreen should be the reason that you make opera a piece of homework once you leave the performance. Wettergreen’s performance is flawless and provided the audience with a nod to grace and greatness.  Canadian Director, Anna Theodosakis is joined by acclaimed set and costume designer Myung Hee Cho, whom paints the audience with a pop- up portrait of the place and time. The audience gets lost in a lush maze which symbolizes the passage from death to re-birth, as well as the cyclical progression from night to day. Lush long dresses, tight bodices, cardboard cut-outs of giraffes, zebras and bird in cages continue to lighten the mood and conjures memories of childhood story books inked in fairytale. Lighting designer Scott Zielinski illustrates the mysteries of the outdoor world beneath the cover of night where the characters act out the rituals of the drama.

German conductor Patrick Lange returns to the COC, leading the COC Orchestra through Mozart’s whimsical Singspiel. Price Family Chorus Master Sandra Horst guides the COC Chorus.

I encourage you to make time to see the Canadian Opera Company’s production of “The Magic Flute” in the weeks that follow (May 8, 11, 14, 17, 19, and 21, 2022). It is a transformative experience and will soothe your heart and soul.

#HotDocs22 @hotdocs: The Quiet Epidemic (May 2, 2022)

After years of living with mysterious symptoms, a young girl from Brooklyn anda DukeUniversity scientist are diagnosed with a disease said to not exist: Chronic Lyme disease.The Quiet Epidemic follows their search for answers, which lands them in the middle of avicious medical debate. What begins as a patient story evolves into an investigation into thehistory of Lyme disease, dating back to its discovery in 1975. A paper trail of suppressedscientific research, and buried documents reveals why ticks—and the diseases they carry—have been allowed to quietly spread around the globe.

According to the CDC, an estimated500,000 people are infected withLyme each year, and 10-20% of them remain sick afterantibiotic treatment. Even still, Lyme is often dismissed by the medical establishment.

Review: In true Hot Docs film selection style, The Quiet Epidemic will give you a heartbreaking but thorough insight into Lyme disease and how it destroys the lives of those afflicted and their families. I appreciated the lens of advocacy discussed by the documentary subjects. Within the pain, anguish and sorrow of a tremendous vicious medical debate – there is optimism in the voices of those living with Lyme disease.

Thirty Four Flavours Rating: 4.5/5

#HotDocs22 @hotdocs: The National Film Board of Canada’s “Bill Reid Remembers by Alanis Obomsawin” (April 29, 2022)

In her 54th film, Alanis Obomsawin pays tribute to her friend’s remarkable life and rich legacy. Despite spending his early life away from his nation’s culture, renowned Haida artist Bill Reid always kept Haida Gwaii close to his heart. While working for CBC Radio, he started learning how to make jewelry, then later sculpture, using Haida techniques and images, a move that would forever change his life and the Canadian artistic landscape. Reid’s powerful narration in the film—interspersed with Obomsawin’s own—recounts his complex childhood, his emergence as an accomplished artist, and his profound connection to his homeland. Decades after his passing, Bill Reid remains an enduring force and one of Canada’s greatest artists.

Review: You can’t go wrong with any National Film Board of Canada offering. “Bill Reid Remembers by Alanis Obomsawin” will bring you closer to the art of Bill Reid. It will also make you look closer at the toonie in your pocket. We reflect on the importance of the trees, the land and wildlife and how they play important roles in the welfare of the human spirit. Brimming in insight into the Indigenous worldview, culture and spirituality – Bill Reid narrates Haida resiliency into this poetic documentary. Resplendent. Inspirational.

Thirty Four Flavours Rating: 5/5   

#HotDocs22 @hotdocs: Images of a Nordic Drama (April 29, 2022)

A persistent art collector (Haakon Mehren) faces unexpected resistance while championing the work of an unknown Norwegian artist after finding a cache of paintings in a barn. Despite success abroad, the undiscovered work of Aksel Waldemar Johannessen, an admired contemporary of Edvard Munch, takes nearly three decades to launch. The painter’s oil depictions of prostitutes and drunks living in miserable poverty offend the bourgeois aesthetics of Norway’s art establishment and challenge the canon to the point of sabotaging his rediscovery. Will rejection by the curatorial staff at the National Museum and gatekeepers of the Munch Museum diminish Johannessen’s work? An invaluable insight into art world politics, cultural institutions’ ties to big business and the power of exposure, IMAGES OF A NORDIC DRAMA shows Johannessen’s pieces repetitively throughout the film, to the point of familiarity, to demonstrate how contact with works of art cultivate appreciation and memorability, and how essential access is to making or breaking an audience for an artist’s oeuvre.

Review: “Images of a Nordic Drama” is a slow and contemplative documentary worthy of a quiet weekend afternoon watch at the festival between heavier films. “Images of a Nordic Drama” does a wonderful job of walking the viewer through beautifully curated visuals from Norwegian artist, Aksel Waldemar Johannessen. The narration and wisdom extended by art collector, Haakon Mehren, will move you and leave you feeling that perhaps you were looking at art wrong all this time. Resplendent. Inspirational.

Thirty Four Flavours Rating: 4.5/5

#HotDocs22 @hotdocs: Rojek (April 29, 2022)

The Syrian Democratic Forces, mostly Kurdish, as well as the international coalition, have succeeded in dislodging the Islamic State from their last stronghold and ending their project of establishing a caliphate in Syria. Today, thousands of Islamic State members, along with their wives and children, end up in prisons and camps under the supervision of the Kurds. With extraordinary access, we travel through Syria and inside makeshift prisons, where detainees speak candidly about their motivations, experiences and loyalties, offering an incredible range of perspectives on the formation, rise and defeat of the Islamic State. (Mariam Zaidi / Hot Docs)

Review: “Rojek” is one of the best documentaries of the Hot Docs film festival. The viewer is provided with portraiture with a heartbeat. Deeply personal interviews with Islamic State members’ that at times reluctantly details their life trajectory are revealed. We learn more about their faith, culture and lived experiences that shaped their sense of selves. Their narratives are painted in bold colours for the viewer to consider. There are also darker shades which challenge our worldviews as a western audience. “Rojek” is a documentary that you will be hard pressed to find chronicled in a book, magazine or online. The viewer is walked through rubble streets, destroyed homes and faces of individuals whom have lost everything but their lives. “Rojek” provides an opportunity to reflect deeply and also quietly encouraged to learn more.

Thirty Four Flavours Rating: 5/5   

#HotDocs22 @hotdocs: Pleistocene Park (April 29, 2022)

A Russian scientist on the border between genius and madman, a vanished ice-age ecosystem, a climatic time-bomb and a crazy plan to save the world. Pleistocene Park is a major initiative that includes an attempt to restore the mammoth steppe ecosystem, which was dominant in the Arctic in the late Pleistocene. The initiative requires replacement of the current unproductive northern ecosystems by highly productive pastures which have both a high animal density and a high rate of biocycling. Moreover grazing ecosystems in the Arctic promote climate cooling through series of ecological effects. Experiments with animal reintroductions were begun in 1988. Currently, Pleistocene Park consists of an enclosed area of 20 square kilometers that is home to 10 major herbivore species: reindeer, yakutian horse, moose, bison, musk ox, yak, kalmykian cow, sheep, camels and goats.

Review: Pleistocene Park will remind you of what it means to envision a world that is restorative, ambitious and rooted in love and care.Within the heaviness of our world,Pleistocene Park will make you smile, giggle and consider what you need to do to combat climate change. Energetic. Inspiring.

Thirty Four Flavours Rating: 4/5   

#HotDocs22 @hotdocs: ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught) (April 28, 2022)

“It is important to us that ᎤᏕᏲᏅ includes the perspectives of western and eastern Giduwa (Cherokee) people. Although our communities are separated by distance, our collaboration on this film offers a balanced perspective of what reciprocity means to our people and how it’s actualized in our lives.”
– Brit Hensel, director, 4th World Media Lab Fellow, 2022 Tulsa Artist Fellow, and works on the series Reservation Dogs on FX

ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught) explores expressions of reciprocity in the Cherokee world, brought to life through a story told by an elder and first language speaker. The film circles the intersection of tradition, language, land, and a commitment to maintaining balance.

Review: A beautiful piece of poetry which simply encourages settlers to appreciate those living things that have been here far longer than us. We are encouraged as guests, to reflect upon the earth and consider how we may respect it with an open heart and mind. “What They’ve Been Taught” is a film festival must see. Meditative. Serene.

Thirty Four Flavours Rating: 5/5

#HotDocs22 @hotdocs: Beautiful Scars (April 28, 2022)

Beautiful Scars is a poignant narrative crafted by an indigenous director. Through intimate, detailed interviews with Wilson, Belcourt unpacks an astounding story about a secretive upbringing, self-destructive music career and the moments that led to the discovery of the shocking, stranger-than-fiction lie Tom Wilson was fed his entire life.

The film traces back in time to unravel Wilson’s biographical history and eventually follows him to the Kanawahke reserve, where he explores his Mohawk heritage and meets for the first time the birth family that didn’t even know he existed.

“Making this movie was a transformative and revitalizing experience for my mother and I,” says musician and visual artist, Tom Wilson. “It freed whatever old ghosts that were hanging around our attics and stirred up the sludge at the bottom of our lakes. My mother and I were victims of a heartless colonial system but in the end we won.”

Beautiful Scars blends a hybrid of visual styles, animation and archival photos set to motion. The soundtrack, pulled from Wilson’s extensive catalogue, drives the pace and story development.

Review: “Beautiful Scars” is a special documentary with twists and turns that will make your heartache and your soul sing out. I appreciated that the film challenged the viewer to partake in storytelling, luxuriate in music and consider moments of reflection through the sharing of poetry. A nice change to your film festival pace.

Thirty Four Flavours Rating: 4/5

Ticket Giveaway: The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival Ticket Giveaway! (Apr 28–May 8, 2022) #HotDocs22 @hotdocs

Every year Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival gets better and better!   This year the film festival is jam packed with the most diverse, emotional and enlightening films yet.  If you haven’t been – don’t miss out this spring!

Thank you to our friends at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival for gifting Thirty Four Flavours with a stack of 16 #HotDocs22 tickets to get you out there in the sun and ready to catch some wonderful documentaries! Yes, FREE Hot Docs 2022 Tickets! I will be giving away a pair of tickets per film listed below.

What are the rules when entering the Thirty Four Flavours and #HotDocs22 Ticket Giveaway?

Simple! Please sign up to Thirty Four Flavours Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or email subscription to enter the draw. When you have signed up please send me a Facebook message, a tweet, Instagram DM or email ( telling me which #HotDocs22 Ticket Giveaway film you are interested in listed below. The films that follow are pretty special and will be sure to move and inspire you. Check out the screening guide for film summaries here,

Deadline for the Thirty Four Flavours and #HotDocs22 Ticket Giveaway is Thursday April 28, 2022.

Aftershock 5/5/2022 5:30pm Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema                             

Boycott 5/5/2022 8:30pm Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema                                  

Band 5/3/2022 9:30pm Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema        

Sirens 5/4/2022 8:30pm Isabel Bader Theatre                                                      

Myanmar Diaries 5/4/2022 5:45pm Isabel Bader Theatre

Anonymous Club 5/6/2022 8:15pm Isabel Bader Theatre   

Midwives 5/1/2022 8:15 PM Isabel Bader Theatre                                              

Riotsville, USA 5/5/2022 8:30pm Isabel Bader Theatre                                       

Nelly & Nadine 5/5/2022 5:30pm Isabel Bader Theatre 

Handle with Care 5/3/2022 8:30pm Isabel Bader Theatre                                  

Don’t Come Searching 5/2/2022 5:45pm Isabel Bader Theatre                         

Pleistocene Park 5/6/2022 8:15pm TIFF Bell Lightbox 1     

A Symphony for a Common Man 5/4/2022 5:15pm TIFF Bell Lightbox 1      

A House Made of Splinters 5/7/2022 5:45pm TIFF Bell Lightbox 1                    

Museum of the Revolution 4/28/2022 5:45pm TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Nothing Compares 5/7/2022 8:45pm TIFF Bell Lightbox 1     

Happy Hot Docs Film watching!