Wylie Writes @ Hot Docs 2014: Age is No Misfortune

Growing old should never be looked at as a negative. It should be thought of as a way to celebrate.

The ladies featured in the following documentaries have found a way to stay young at heart and hold onto their impassioned looks at life. They have ambition and simply run with it; knowing that their actions will make a difference and perhaps make people smile.

Divide In Concord (DIR. Kris Kaczor)


By: Gesilayefa Azorbo

If documentary is as much about character as it is story, then Jean Hill is full of character.  The octogenarian grandmother wants to save the planet, one plastic water bottle at a time, beginning with her own city of Concord, Massachusetts.

Concord is no ordinary small town.  It’s known as the birthplace of the American Revolution, the place where the “shot heard around the world” was first fired.  As far as revolutionary history goes, the place has it in spades, including being the birthplace of Henry David Thoreau (the first environmentalist).  Jean’s fight to pass a municipal bill banning single-serve water bottles is inspired by her discovery, through her grandson, of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But each year her efforts through cold calling of city residents and city council appeals have been denied.  The residents themselves are split between those who are vociferously for their right to bottled convenience, and those who remember when public water fountains were the norm.

As she gears up for one last bylaw vote, she finds she has some new – and vocal – opponents.  Adriana Cohen, another local resident and former model turned political fundraiser and high profile publicist, does not appreciate Jean’s fight, and considers it an attack on freedom and the right to choose.  At the same time, local merchants who consider sales of bottled water instrumental to their profits, along with the International Bottled Water Association have stepped into the fray.

The final showdown will be less a vote on a municipal bylaw, and more a battle to win the hearts and minds of the people of Concord.

A quirky film told with equal parts humour and earnestness, Divide In Concord promises an engaging profile of one spirited woman’s determined fight against the greater backdrop of the ongoing environmental debate.

Catch Divide In Concord at Toronto’s Hot Docs International Film Festival on:

Saturday, April 26 at 9:30 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre

Monday, April 28 at 1:30 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Saturday, May 3 at 11:00 a.m. @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Click here for more details and to buy tickets.


Advanced Style (DIR. Lina Plioplyte)


By: Addison Wylie

When asked afterwards what I thought of Lina Plioplyte’s stylishly doc Advanced Style, I answered, “I just want to hug people.”

I expect that will be the general reaction from movie goers who check out the rapidly paced flick in hopes of a good time.  The film delivers on that front, and gives audiences a vibrant view of the fashion world without coming across as excessive or emotionally distant.

Ari Seth Cohen, a photographer who is drawn in by older beauty, is someone who is easy to listen to and “get” when he’s explaining how his blog has assured an older community that they can still be relevant and good looking.  Advanced Style isn’t a glamour project for Cohen.  He fully comprehends that the doc is focused on his positive models and often bounces questions back to Plioplyte’s subjects when he’s given a questioning hot potato.

You can tell the doc has been conceived by photographers.  The film looks great and is lit extremely well.  It’s one of those movies where you could pause it anytime, and extract a glamorous still.  However, the film has a fair amount of mid-scene focusing, which I would’ve appreciated less of.

There’s not one frame of cynicism in Advanced Style.  That’s not because of tricky editing.  It’s because it’s tough for these lovely confident ladies to be a downer when they’ve found the fountain of youth.  Even when a major event happens towards the end of the film, the bright side is acknowledged.

Advanced Style is a beautiful celebration of life that deserves to be a hot hit at this year’s festival.

Catch Advanced Style at Toronto’s Hot Docs International Film Festival on:

Tuesday, April 29 at 10:00 p.m. @ Hart House Theatre

Thursday, May 1 at 1:00 p.m. @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Saturday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. @ Regent Theatre

Sunday, May 4 at 1:30 p.m. @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Click here for more details and to buy tickets.

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