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article imageReview: ‘The Manor’ opens its doors to Hot Docs Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 25, 2013 in Entertainment
‘The Manor’ will have its world premiere at Hot Docs tonight. It is an intimate portrait of a small town Jewish family struggling to maintain a strip club.
In The Manor, filmmaker Shawney Cohen explores the effect owning a gentlemen's club has had on his family. Roger Cohen had 14 jobs before finally buying The Manor and the attached hotel. His Barbie doll wife, Brenda Cohen, had given him two sons, both of whom are employed at the club. Both parents have severe eating disorders, though they suffer from opposite extremes: she's wasting away and he's ballooning.
It sort of begins with the day in the life of a strip club owner: managing the scantily clad or naked, girls; paying bills; and mingling with customers. Maybe because the man behind the camera is their blood, they are relatively candid about their feelings – though getting Brenda to have a serious discussion is like pulling teeth. Shawney generally employs an interview format, though he sometimes sets up a camera to the side to eavesdrop on a discussion. Because the subjects are his family, his involvement in the film doesn't seem intrusive or inappropriate. Even though The Manor is an inescapable cloud over the family's existence, the documentary isn't about the strip club; it's about a family's desire to become physically and emotionally healthy again.
The Manor is screening during Hot Docs, the largest documentary film festival in North America, which runs April 25 to May 5 in Toronto.
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