Hot Docs 2015: ‘Shoulder the Lion’ and ‘The Wolfpack’

Shoulder the Lion (DIR. Erinnisse Rebisz, Patryk Rebisz)

Shoulder The Lion - 21
By: Trevor Jeffery

If the subject matter about artists isn’t clear enough the art-house-meets-documentary style Shoulder The Lion boasts should certainly make the viewer aware that the filmmakers really, really like art.  A lot.

In front of the camera are three inspiring figures: Graham Sharpe, a musician living with a constant ringing in his ear, reminding him that his tinnitus will eventually take his hearing, and with it, the thing he loves most: playing music; Katie Dallam, a visual artist whose boxing-damaged brain allows her art to flourish more than it could have possibly before;  Alice Wingwall, a photographer who is still behind the camera despite her complete retinal degeneration.

Shoulder The Lion comes out of the gates strong.  Use of compelling visuals and audio effects enhance each subject’s story beyond a simple telling, crossing over to feeling and experiencing: the crackling sounds of Sharpe’s tinnitus, or the chromatic progression of Wingwall’s degeneration.

While it loses narrative toward the end, appealing heavily to its artsy side, Shoulder The Lion is an inspiring, sad, wonderful documentary full of hope and humanity, strengthening the argument that art is our species’ golden characteristic.

Catch Shoulder the Lion at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Wednesday, April 29 at 9:45 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre

Thursday, April 30 at 4:00 p.m. @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Saturday, May 2 at 3:00 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox


The Wolfpack (DIR. Crystal Moselle)

By: Addison Wylie

The Wolfpack focuses on a family of eight living in Manhattan whom have had very little contact with the outside world, because modern society strikes fear within the clan.  This establishes and encourages extreme isolation with one sibling remembers a year where the children never stepped outside their home.

Crystal Moselle’s doc sent me into a bothersome case of cabin fever very quickly.  It’s justified, but the filmmaking makes the atmosphere intentionally tight and thin.

The six Angulo boys receive comfort from movies.  They watch multiple films, reenact their favourite scenes, create replica costumes and props, and even create word-for-word screenplays by re-watching their collection.  When they’re not hopelessly peering out windows at the busy New York lifestyle.  Movies provide a glimpse to what the outside world may be like.  Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is considered a strong reference for the film buffs.

The Wolfpack reminded me of reality television shows that exploit a premise like this.  However, The Wolfpack is an unsettling and strangely uplifting portrait of societal withdrawal and overcoming it.  While the film may be uncomfortable, we witness remarkable scenes where the Angulos expand their horizons.  The jury’s still out on whether the Angulo’s felt pressured by the production, but you will get goosebumps nonetheless.

The Wolfpack at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Friday, April 24 at 6:30 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Sunday, April 26 at 4:00 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre


Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.

Related Articles:

Wylie Writes @ Hot Docs 2015

Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

Trevor Jeffery: @TrevorSJeffery

Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

Readers Comments (1)

  1. Thanks you for such a fantastic review. Much appreciated!


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