Hot Docs 2017: ‘Spookers’ and ‘Tu as crié LET ME GO’

Spookers (DIR. Florian Habicht)

Spookers focuses on the Watsons, a New Zealand family who has run one of the most successful scare attractions out of an old psychiatric ward.

Audiences will undoubtably enjoy the doc’s inside look at how the Watsons maintain their attraction.  The amount of detail shown in Spookers is something that outsiders rarely get to see.  For instance, I found it nice to discover personalities behind those evil clowns that are usually chasing patrons around a cornfield with a chainsaw.  Beyond the film’s main hook is a story with depth.  Spookers is also about hard-working individuals, the friendships that have developed despite staff differences, and acknowledgments towards mental health and the stigma circling it.

By showcasing personable performers and using creative art design and subtle comedy, filmmaker Florian Habicht (Pulp: A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets) does an incredible job establishing this scary place while also raising the material above a typical documentary structure.

Spookers is a fun film that will make you want to visit the Watsons for yourself.

– Nick Ferwerda

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

Sunday, April 30 at 9:30 p.m. @ Hart House Theatre

Tuesday, May 2 at 4:30 p.m. @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Saturday, May 6 at 9:00 p.m. @ Revue Cinema


Tu as crié LET ME GO (DIR. Anne Claire Poirier)

Anne Claire Poirier is a name that deserves to be known by all Canadian cinephiles; unfortunately, her career seems to have become something of a footnote despite her great output.  Similar to her fellow filmmakers at Studio D, Poirier’s work was often celebrated, but seldom promoted or sponsored.  There is still hope, however, as recent retrospective screenings of some of her work have and will occur in Toronto, one of these screenings being her most recent film, 1996’s Tu As Crié Let Me Go, a documentary which she directed after the murder of her daughter.

Tu As Crié Let Me Go is everything that makes Poirier’s work stand out: fiercely feminist, extraordinarily experimental and never questions taking risks.  Poirier’s attempt to understand her troubled daughter’s death brings her into contact with drug addicts, sex workers, people ill with HIV/AIDS and those affected by the deaths of their children.  Shot in a poetic style, beautiful and stark black and white, the images often taking on a stream of consciousness style, this doc is an0 attempt by the filmmaker to grasp her daughter’s life and death, so she can do the unthinkable and let her go.  There is also a reliance on talking heads, but they have not had their humanity excised: even when the camera is in full close up of the interview subject, Poirier’s presence is always felt, occasionally breaking in to comfort a subject or let it be known that she has a certain point of view.

There is definitely something to be said about the fact that the first time that your writer ever heard of this masterpiece was when it was announced to play this festival: it remains to be seen if its invisibility has more to do with the fact that it is Canadian, the fact that it was directed by a woman or a bit of each.  The only thing that is blatant is that this is a personal and tragic doc that needs to be seen.

– Shahbaz Khayambashi

Catch Tu as crié LET ME GO at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Friday, April 28 at 12:30 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox


Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.

Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

Nick Ferwerda: @NickFerwerda

Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam

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