Hot Docs 2015: ‘Lowdown Tracks’ and ‘Orion: The Man Who Would Be King’

Lowdown Tracks (DIR. Shelly Saywell)

By: Gregory Breen

If you have ever stopped to smell the roses and listen to a busker, chances are Lowdown Tracks will bring a tear to your eye.  In this heartfelt and engrossing film, activist and musician Lorraine Segato seeks to meet Toronto’s street musicians and record some of the wonderful tunes they play.

Segato meets Woody Cormier, Anthony Van Zant, Maryann Epp, Bruce Bathgate and Katt Burr – five very special, talented people who have fallen through the cracks for various reasons and are living on the street.  As we hear their heartbreaking life stories and listen to their brilliant and very personal songs, one of the tragedies of life in the modern world is laid bare.  The film also sheds light on the city’s absurd busker laws.

Katt discusses the crazy situation where musicians must audition “like Canadian Idol” to secure a spot to play in a subway station, while Bruce is disqualified from getting welfare because he holds a city busking permit.  The stories are filled with horror and tragedy, but the people are filled with hope thanks to their habitual personalities and their passion for playing music.

Lowdown Tracks’ will click with movie goers.  The beautiful music will have the audience tapping their feet while they feel engaged in the documentary’s liveliness.

Catch Lowdown Tracks at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Saturday, April 25 at 8:30 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Monday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre

Saturday, May 2 at 6:30 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre


Orion: The Man Who Would Be King (DIR. Jeanie Finlay)


By: Addison Wylie

Orion: The Man Who Would Be King is an odd doc about an off-clour subject, but it’s also a slick flick about discovering identity.

Jeanie Finlay shows her filmmaking resourcefulness through old footage and stills chronicling Jimmy Ellis’ life and career.  She’s also has been able to secure interviews from people who were affected by Ellis’ music and charisma.

Jimmy had the build of a titan, but always wanted to sing.  The Elvis Presley doppelgänger chased his dream, and was shut out on many occasions.  His gifted vocals were tough to package.  Everyone was enamoured by Elvis and saw no need for a duplicate despite Jimmy’s achievements.

Replace Elvis with any current pop star, and the message in Finlay’s doc would still ring true.  Orion: The Man Who Would Be King shows the ups-and-downs of a modest musician trying to survive in the industry, and how an artist can all too easily be treated as a pawn.  The content about Ellis’ shifting appearance is fascinating since we witness how much scrambling was done to keep up with consumer popularity.

When the audience is treated to mere voiceovers, we feel a small disconnect with the film’s personality.  If this was intentional, I wouldn’t be surprised.


Catch Orion: The Man Who Would Be King at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Tuesday, April 28 at 7:00 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre

Thursday, April 30 at 4:30 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre

Sunday, May 3 at 8:45 p.m. @ Royal Cinema


Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.

Related Articles:

Wylie Writes @ Hot Docs 2015

Reviews of Shoulder the Lion and The Wolfpack

Reviews of Committed and Hadwin’s Judgement

Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

Gregory Breen: @GregoryBreen

Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.