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article imageReview: Hot Docs world showcase is a brief journey to the other side Special

By Sarah Gopaul     May 3, 2018 in Entertainment
The world showcase at Hot Docs invites audiences to experience how other people live via documentaries that endeavour to portray honest fragments of real-life.
At Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the world showcase programme shares stories from other countries that can be shocking and/or triumphant. Audiences may discover how differently people live in another country, or conversely how much they have in common. In the case of the documentaries discussed below, viewers may find inspiration in one man’s accomplishment, empathy for a woman’s circumstances and insight into a complex economic arrangement.
A scene from  4 Years in 10 Minutes
A scene from '4 Years in 10 Minutes'
Hot Docs
4 Years in 10 minutes
The world is filled with adventure and challenges. While going on long, dangerous journeys is no longer a necessity of life, people embark on these expeditions for personal fulfilment. Often training for months or even years in preparation, these excursions can be the source of enormous satisfaction or disappointment. One of the most energizing and risky of these ventures is mountain climbing. Each year as the seasons permit, thousands attempt to ascend the highest points on Earth for glory and gratification. The documentary 4 Years in 10 minutes chronicles a man’s journey to the top of Mt. Everest.
The found footage film pieces together vintage video and diary entries from the first Serbian to reach the peak of the world’s highest mountain. His written reflections overlay images of vast landscapes, consisting of poetic observations and thoughts of defeat. Footage from the campsites shows many of his fellow climbers in good spirits, but he seems to be a little bit of a loner opting instead to ruminate on the impending challenge. Director Mladen Kovacevic attempts to capture the range of emotions the mountaineer experiences as his chances of success diminish.
A scene from  Vivre Riche
A scene from 'Vivre Riche'
Hot Docs
Vivre Riche
As the disparity between haves and have nots continues to widen, those in the latter category may begin to increasingly prey on the former as their manner of tipping the scales a little more in their favour. Most people have caught on to the email from the foreign prince requesting money, but they’ve found more sophisticated ways of conning wealthy targets out of small, critical sums of cash. The internet has changed the nature of scamming, now potentially requiring more time but also resulting in greater payoffs. In Vivre Riche, director Joël Akafou demonstrates how this economic structure is playing out in West Africa.
In Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, young men between the ages of 15 and 25 seduce European women online, while convincing them to send various amounts of money. It’s akin to prostitution, except that the “janes” or “clients” are unaware they’re paying for this companionship. Typing in chatrooms to mask their accent and make it easier to feign interest in these lonely women, they befriend them and then use assorted excuses to explain their need for immediate cash. Avoiding phone calls and video chats also allows them to talk about the women behind their backs during their interactions.
The more shocking aspect of these exchanges is the unemployed youths use the money for frivolous possessions, late night excursions and additional internet minutes. Caught up in Western materialism, several young men share what appears to be a tiny, one-bedroom apartment where they sit on their laptops and cellphones anticipating their next payday. But this unreliable method of moneymaking isn’t accepted by everyone as Akafou captures conversations with the protagonists’ families who insist they put aside their illegal occupations.
A scene from  A Woman Captured
A scene from 'A Woman Captured'
Hot Docs
A Woman Captured
In A Woman Captured, filmmaker Bernadett Tuza-Ritter follows “Marish,” one of approximately 22,000 modern slaves in Hungary. Her employer/owner, Eta, permits Tuza-Ritter to record Marish in exchange for an undisclosed sum, though her greed and confidence may be her eventual defeat. Marish waits on Eta and her family hand-and-foot plus she works 12-hour shifts at a factory. Eta takes her entire salary in exchange for cigarettes and meagre meals.
Observing Marish’s relationship with the family is just like watching a movie about life on a pre-Civil War plantation: the children conspire to blame her when they break things, the other “servant” is only permitted food assigned by Eta, and they’re constantly degraded (and sometimes physically abused) by their master who is only kind when it suits her. It’s difficult to comprehend such conditions in contemporary society, yet it’s apparently occurring to up to 45 million worldwide. Listening to Marish talk about her situation with such defeat is difficult as years of being indentured have driven hope away; similarly and conversely, Eta’s manner of normalizing the oppression she cultivates while mistreating her captive servants is equally distressing.
Even while trying to maintain her objectivity, Tuza-Ritter befriends Marish and tries to plant the seeds of escape. Yet, the combination of a fly-on-the-wall approach and covert interviews demonstrate Doe is trying directly interfering, but instead asking Marish probing questions that may rekindle her desire to live her life for herself. This documentary is a shocking revelation that relies on its story rather than style to engage viewers.
Showtimes and ticket information can be found on the festival website.
More about Hot Docs 2018, Documentary, 4 Years in 10 minutes, A Woman Captured, Vivre Riche
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