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A scene from the documentary "The Queen of Versailles" (Lauren Greenfield)
A scene from the documentary "The Queen of Versailles" (Lauren Greenfield)

Mini reviews

Select reviews of the films at the 2012 Hot Docs festival Add to ...

  • Country USA
  • Language English

The following mini reviews of select Hot Docs films are by James Adams, Guy Dixon, Rick Groen, Liam Lacey, Gayle MacDonald, Dave McGinn, Kate Taylor and Brad Wheeler. Films are rated on a four-star system and are presented in order of descending star rating.

The Invisible War Kirby Dick (USA) FOUR STARS

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In The Invisible War, investigative documentarian Kirby Dick takes aim at the military’s egregious pattern of turning a willful blind eye to sexual assault in its ranks. Armed with shocking statistics (20 per cent of females in the military have reported sexual assault) and teamed with scores of heart-wrenching interviews of rape victims (both men and women), the film paints a sordid picture of how rape allegations are routinely brushed under the carpet, with the perpetrators going unpunished (fewer than 10 per cent have been prosecuted) and the victims losing everything – their jobs, their dignity and any hope of medical aid. The Invisible War – an audience-award winner at Sundance – is a must-see exposé of the abuse of power in an institution that is supposed to serve and protect. Instead, it seems to view rape as an occupational hazard of military service. G.M.

April 27, 3:30 p.m., Bloor; April 28, 9 p.m., ROM; May 5, 3:15 p.m., Bloor.

The Queen of Versailles Lauren Greenfield (USA/Netherlands/U.K./Denmark) FOUR STARS

Call it the American Dream run amok. Greenfield, who won Sundance's award for documentary directing, spent three years with the bizarre, Florida-based billionaires Jackie and David Siegel. We meet them first when they start building their monster dream home – a 90,000-square-foot, garish spectacle modelled after France’s Palace of Versailles, with 30 bathrooms, 10 kitchens and a full-sized baseball field. Jackie is a former beauty queen, mother of seven, and compulsive spender who teeters around her palatial digs in high heels and skimpy skirts. David is an egomaniacal, vacation-time-share titan, whose fortune suddenly falters when the sub-prime mortgage market crashes in 2008. Through the ups and lows, the camera stays focused on a severely dysfunctional family that represents American excess at its worst. What emerges is a morbid, modern-day immorality tale that is sickeningly funny and difficult to watch. G.M.

May 2, 7 p.m., Lightbox; May 3, 9:15 p.m., Bader; May 4, 8:45 p.m., Bloor.

China Heavyweight Yung Chang (Canada) THREE AND A HALF STARS

As with his freshman film Up the Yangtze, Canadian director Yung Chang creates a seamless blend of dramatic stories as a larger social metaphor about the human costs of China’s drive to modernization. Two teenagers from poor, rural Sichuan – one a natural showboat who idolizes Mike Tyson, the other full of doubts – train to be boxers, hoping they won’t spend their lives as tobacco farmers. Meanwhile, their dedicated coach, now in his late 30s, decides to make a Rocky-style comeback, hoping to overcome a past humiliation. L.L.

May 2, 9 p.m., Bloor; May 3, 2 p.m., Lightbox; May 4, 9:30 p.m., Fox.

Over My Dead Body Brigitte Poupart (Canada) THREE AND A HALF STARS

Dave St-Pierre is dying. He has cystic fibrosis and needs a lung transplant within months or he will probably die. He is also an internationally recognized choreographer in Montreal, known for stark nudity in his dances – sometimes his work is grave and bloody, sometimes frivolous, always earnest. St-Pierre had his friend and collaborator Brigitte Poupart make a film of his struggle to survive as the wait for a transplant continues. What results is as complete a picture as you can get of one man in a documentary. Given the scenes of his uncompromising choreography, this obviously isn’t a film for everyone. That’s a pity, for the film is really about blatant honesty and truth. G.D.

April 27, 10 p.m., Lightbox; April 29, 4 p.m., ROM.

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists Brian Knappenberger (USA) THREE AND A HALF STARS

Both exhilarating and disturbing, this historical and well-balanced account of online activism provides some of the connections between such apparently unrelated phenomena as Internet memes like “lolcats,” Wikileaks and the Arab Spring. Filmmaker Brian Knappenberger interviews some computer activists in Guy Fawkes masks, but many members of “Anonymous” speak freely on camera, acknowledging both the rude, juvenile side of their movement, and its rapid politicization in the past five years. You end up alarmed at the anarchic potential of the Internet hackers but even more worried about the zealousness of the crackdown against this emerging form of political and anti-corporate protest. L.L.

May 1, 6:15 p.m., Bloor; May 3, 3 p.m., Lightbox; May 5, 7 p.m., Lightbox.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry Alison Klayman (USA/China) THREE STARS

A crucially important film, a crucially important artist. The conceptual work of Ai Weiwei and, perhaps more importantly, his use of the Internet and social media as means of communicating his views on the Chinese government’s oppressive ways is put into the larger context of his life story. His travels to New York particularly fuelled a fire within Ai, as did the brutal oppression of his family during the Cultural Revolution. Yet it’s the artist’s calm demeanour, not the film itself, nor his past story, which is the true nucleus of the film. Ai Weiwei is captivating on camera, and the film makes the case that there is really no separation between the artist and his work. G.D.

April 28, 4:15 p.m., Lightbox.

Big Boys Gone Bananas! Fredrik Gertten (Sweden) THREE STARS

A fascinating look at the fearsome power of libel chill, Gertten's documentary examines the fate of his earlier doc. That work, titled Bananas!, examined the culpability of Dole, the corporate giant, in exposing its Nicaraguan banana pickers to damaging pesticides. Despite being found guilty in an L.A. court, Dole sicked its lawyers on Gertten, his producer and anyone who might screen or distribute the film. Remarkably, urged on by Dole's publicists, the North American press sided with Goliath's version of events. Meanwhile, in Gertten's native Sweden, journalists and even politicians took up David's cause. The result plays like a Stieg Larsson novel – no tattoos, but plenty of malice. R.G.

May 2, 5:30 p.m., Bloor.

Bones Brigade: An Autobiography Stacy Peralta (USA) THREE STARS

In his follow-up to the fantastic documentary about the birth of skateboarding, Dogtown and Z-Boys, director Stacy Peralta chronicles the sport’s next chapter with a look at his team from the 1980s, the Bones Brigade. Fans of skateboarding will revel in this look at the personalities that revolutionized the sport, from the genius that is Rodney Mullen to the technical wizardry of Tony Hawk. The film is packed with archival footage and intimate interviews, although it’s occasionally short on context, such as how the team disbanded, which Peralta barely glances at. But if you want to understand modern skateboarding, this film is the master key. D.M.

May 1, 6:30 p.m., Lightbox; May 2, 2 p.m., Lightbox; May 6, 4 p.m., Revue.

Brooklyn Castle Katie Dellamaggiore (USA) THREE STARS

Brooklyn’s Intermediate School 318 routinely brings home the U.S. national chess championship thanks to an inspirational after-school program. The admirable teacher and coach who train the students oversee everyone from a poised Grade 8 girl who may be about to become the first African-American woman to be designated a master to an awkward Grade 6 boy whose attention-deficit disorder is helped by playing chess. You may not be able to follow the details of their various competitions in charts on the screen, but you get the picture. Working-class children, many from single-parent homes or recent immigrant families, are being urged up the American ladder in a novel and encouraging way – as long as budget cuts don’t kill the program. K.T.

April 29, 6:30 p.m., Cumberland; May 1, 9 p.m., ROM; May 5, 1:15 p.m., Regent.

Buzkashi! Najeeb Mirza (Canada) THREE STARS

The Afghanistan war has introduced us to buzkashi, a sport in which a melee of competing riders on horses wrestle for possession of a calf’s head instead of a ball. Canadian filmmaker Najeeb Mirza’s handsomely photographed documentary focuses on the Tajikistan version of the sport (in which they use a goat’s carcass) but after a while, the foreign becomes engagingly familiar. In a country recovering from a brutal civil war and undergoing aggressive modernization, Azam, a hard-working shepherd, is the traditional champion, while Kurshed is the swaggering oligarch who wants to make buzkashi a team sport in the Olympics, even if it means using a fake goat carcass. L.L.

April 29, 9:45 p.m., Royal; May 1, 9 p.m., Lightbox; May 6, 9 p.m. Cumberland.

Despite the Gods Penny Vozniak (Australia) THREE STARS

Ostensibly, this is a film about the making of a film. Really though, it's about the unmaking of the film's director – Jennifer Lynch, daughter of David, and a smart, vulnerable, bawdy, Joplinesque whirlwind of a woman. Accompanied by her far more mature 12-year old daughter, she's shooting her movie in India, battling the usual demons that afflict such ventures in that country – monsoons, bureaucracy, budgets, religious strife, panicky local producers. Even more fearsome are her inner demons but, armed with little more than a redeeming sense of humour, she soldiers on through eight long months. To victory? Not even close. R.G.

April 28, 6:45 p.m., Cumberland; April 30, 1:30 p.m., Cumberland; May 5, 9:30 p.m., Innis.

Ethel Rory Kennedy (USA) THREE STARS

For 30 years, the political matriarch Ethel Kennedy shied away from the camera, shunning the media swirl as she tried to cope privately with the 1968 death of her husband and soulmate, Robert F. Kennedy, and later two sons, David (from a drug overdose) and Michael (in a skiing accident). In this tender portrait of a remarkable woman, Ethel and Bobby’s 11th child, Rory (born six months after her father’s assassination), presents her mother as the fiercely devout, fun-loving rock of a family beset by equal doses of great achievement and tragic loss. Culled from interviews with seven Kennedy siblings, spliced with intimate family photos and video, the filmmaker offers the very human side of a strong-willed woman who was the centre of one of the most famous political dynasties of the 20th century. G.M.

April 27, 6:30 p.m., Bader; April 28, 11 a.m., Bader; May 6, 6:30 p.m., Lightbox.

The Final Member Jonah Bekhor, Zach Math (Canada) THREE STARS

File this polite doc in the lovable eccentric category. Sigurdur Hjartarson is a retired Icelandic school teacher with a collection of mammalian penises preserved in formaldehyde and housed in his small Phallological Museum. He is a straightforward guy with a healthy array of other interests (saving the Icelandic fox and local history), and there is nothing prurient let alone pornographic about his taboo-busting museum, with the possible exception of the phallus-shaped carvings he contributes. The weirdo is the Californian who wants to make sure that his impressive member is Hjartarson’s first human specimen, but he’s got competition from a nonagenarian Icelandic womanizer. K.T.

May 1, 9:45 p.m., Royal; May 3, 9 p.m., Cumberland; May 6, 7 p.m., Revue.

Hunting Bobby Oatway John Kastner (Canada) THREE STARS

Emmy-winning Canadian documentarian John Kastner, the subject of Hot Doc’s Focus program this year, has often taken an interest in the impossible relationship between crime and punishment. The 1997 CBC doc Hunting Bobby Oatway lays bare the conundrum: When the convicted B.C. sexual offender is released to a Toronto halfway house, his victims back home make sure his new neighbours know and there are soon noisy protesters stationed outside the institution. As Kastner dutifully interviews the two sides, this film can seem as impossibly stuck as both Oatway and the sanctimonious protesters, who seem unaware that if he is not released this way, he will be released without supervision a few years down the road. Miraculously, both Oatway and his original victims seem to have arrived at a better solution by the end of the film. K.T.

April 29, 7 p.m., Innis.

Marley Kevin Macdonald (U.K./USA) THREE STARS

Thirty years after the death of reggae star Bob Marley from cancer at 36, this new two-and-a-half hour, family-approved documentary from Kevin Macdonald ( Into the Void, The Last King of Scotland) focuses on the singer’s mixed-race background, from a 16-year-old black mother and a 65-year-old white man, and how his early sense of rejection fuelled his “One Love” philosophy. Though many of the stories of the rise of the Wailers and the influence of Island Records’s Chris Blackwell have been well covered, there’s a benefit to the distance of years here, as old wounds have healed and talking heads – including Jimmy Cliff, Bunny Wailer, Rita Marley and other family members – speak candidly about Marley’s personal and artistic legacy. L.L.

May 3, 3:30 p.m., Bader; May 5, 8:15 p.m., Bloor.

Meanwhile in Mamelodi Benjamin Kahlmeyer (Germany/South Africa) THREE STARS

There can be a fine line between filming charming slices of life in a poor South African township and patronizingly going for cuteness. There’s a risk of the latter in this story of one family in the town of Mamelodi, who are trying to make ends meet while the country is engulfed in the fever of the 2010 soccer World Cup. For those who love rhythms of speech and body language, the documentary isn’t so much a movie as a wonderful collection of scenes in and around the township. The director has a knack for recording bits of dialogue and family life which you’d want to play again and again on a DVD. Kahlmeyer is a filmmaker with a refreshing outlook, even if it means giving him the benefit of the doubt. G.D.

April 27, 9:30 p.m., Lightbox; April 28, 4 p.m., Cumberland.

The Mechanical Bride Allison de Fren (USA) THREE STARS

The world of sex dolls and robot fetishes gets a non-judgmental approach here in a global story of men and their relationships with artificial girlfriends, from a Florida widower to a Goth doll owner to a Japanese doll artist. The film’s title derives from Marshall McLuhan’s 1951 cautionary book on the rhetoric of advertising, with its “cluster image of sex, technology and death” though de Fren’s approach is more positive. One commentator suggests that reproduction envy may explain why the phenomenon is overwhelmingly male, though the film doesn’t address the obvious point that more women than men derive sexual satisfaction from technological assistance. L.L.

April 29, 11:30 p.m. Bloor; April 30, 9 p.m., Cumberland; May 6, 9 p.m., Bloor.

The Mystery of Mazo de la Roche Maya Gallus (Canada) THREE STARS

Little read these days, Mazo de la Roche was an international literary superstar in her heyday (the late 1920s and 30s), her books, most notably the Jalna novels, selling more than 11 million copies by the time of her death in 1961. Did I mention she was Canadian? This fascinating, quirky film, an imaginative mix of vignette, archival footage, talking heads and narration, is unlikely to spark a revival of interest in the de la Roche oeuvre. But the life? Holy Sappho, it’s a wonder – mysterious, fantastical, secretive and, well . . . odd. You can’t help but think if de la Roche had been American or British, she’d have been the subject of a feature film by now starring Meryl Streep. J.A.

April 29, 4:45 p.m., Lightbox; April 30, 6:30 p.m., Bader; May 6, 4:15 p.m., Cumberland.

Off Label Michael Palmieri, Donal Mosher (USA) THREE STARS

Fresh from a world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York comes this searing examination of the abuse and misuse of pharmaceutical drugs in overmedicated America. Palmieri and Mosher make no pretense of being “fair and balanced” – there are no interviews with any representatives of Big Pharma – but that’s Off Label’s strength: It’s an up-close and unflinching look at the human cost. There’s a mother mourning her son’s suicide after his physician enrolled him in an antidepressant trial. A former Iraq medic whose treatments for PTSD aren’t working. An African-American Muslim used as a human lab rat after being jailed for marijuana possession. Excruciatingly compelling. J.A.

April 28, 7 p.m., Bader; April 29, 3:30 p.m., Bloor; May 5, 9:15 p.m., Cumberland.

Ping Pong Hugh Hartford (U.K.) THREE STARS

“It’s interesting if you know who’s playing.” In a gentle story of an international seniors’ table-tennis championship held in Mongolia, eight octogenarian-plus players meet their match points. There’s Dorothy, the century-old Aussie who arrives in a wheelchair. Darcy’s a calm power-lifting Brit. And for Inga, stricken with dementia, Ping-Pong keeps her mind and body sharper. Some of them have swagger; others have stagger. After his loss, one serene competitor notes that “tomorrow is another day.” Except that sometimes, at a certain age, it is not. B.W.

April 29, 4 p.m. Bader; May 2, 1:30 p.m., Bader; May 6, 1:15 p.m., Bloor.

She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column Kevin Hegge (Canada) THREE STARS

Punk’s do-it-yourself culture is all about getting stuff done, getting music recorded, experimental films made, zines written. In uptight early 1980s Toronto, there were few places for art-minded punks to hang out, so making DIY art with others became one’s social network. For the musicians and filmmakers who coalesced around the (to use a sexist label) girl band Fifth Column, their arts became a harbinger of a younger gay-punk scene, and later the queercore and Riot Grrrl movements. For a documentary with a clean and straight style, the subject matter is anything but. G.D.

April 27, 7:15 p.m., Royal; May 1, 9 p.m., Cumberland; May 4, 7 p.m., Fox.

Where Heaven Meets Hell Sasha Friedlander (USA) THREE STARS

Friedlander is a first-time filmmaker who turns the lens on four dirt-poor sulphur miners who make the treacherous trek – sometimes as often as five times a day – up Kawah Ijen, an active volcano in Indonesia. Using picks and their bare hands, the men dig sulphur out of the steaming crater, breathing in smoke and the noxious fumes of sulphuric gas. It’s dangerous, back-breaking work that lessens their life expectancy and offers subsistence wages that barely cover food and basic needs (let alone the cost of sending their children to school). Friedlander’s film is the story of abject poverty told from the perspective of these proud, uneducated villagers who are desperate to break the cycle of exploitation that has kept generations trapped on the steaming mountaintop in East Java, earning a pittance. G.M.

April 27, 7 p.m., Lightbox; April 28, 11 a.m., ROM; May 5, 7:15 p.m., Lightbox.

Herman’s House Angad Singh Bhalla (Canada) TWO AND A HALF STARS

Herman Wallace has served more time in solitary confinement than possibly any prisoner in the U.S. penal system. Yet behind bars, after embracing the self-pride of the Black Panther movement, he has become a force of peace and reason. Jackie Sumell is a New York artist who recreated his tiny cell in an art gallery and is trying to get his dream house built in New Orleans for his (she hopes) eventual release. As we follow this process – and yet are understandably never able to see Wallace on film, or even learn his full story – there’s an inevitable sense of detachment throughout. Truly a very difficult story to put on film. G.D.

April 27, 9 p.m., Lightbox; May 2, 9:15 p.m., ROM; May 6, 9:30 p.m., Lightbox.

The Job Didier Cros (France) TWO AND A HALF STARS

In France, a group of job applicants are put through their paces by a ruthless band of self-important recruiters. Turns out the job in question is selling insurance for minimum wage plus the iffy prospect of commission, yet the recruiters treat it as a blue-chip opportunity. Whether bumbling or competent, the applicants endure the often humiliating process in the hopes of landing an ill-paid post that none of them wants, but all of them need. Although the doc occasionally plods along like a warmed-over reality-TV show, the ending does come with a haunting question: Why do the winners here seem like losers, and the losers like the lucky ones who just dodged a bullet? R.G.

April 27, 9 p.m., Cumberland; April 29, 1:30 p.m., Cumberland; May 6, 1:15 p.m., Cumberland.

Theo Fleury: Playing with Fire Matt Embry, Larry Day (Canada) TWO AND A HALF STARS

Bob Dylan used to wonder about the price to be paid “to get out of going through all these things twice.” Former NHL superstar Theo Fleury is getting to relive his troubled life more times than that, “thanks” to Playing with Fire, his bestselling autobiography from 2009; Playing with Fire the stage show bowing in Calgary next month; and now Playing with Fire, the 91-minute documentary. The movie’s as compulsively watchable as a train wreck, with Day and Embry taking Fleury on a journey through a past of neglectful parents, a sexually abusive coach, abandoned wives and children, self-destructive behaviour and angry associates. It’s about healing and atonement, I guess, but in the end you’ll be thinking Fleury needs a whole other life to set things right. J.A.

May 4, 9:30 p.m., Lightbox; May 5, 1:15 p.m., Bader; May 6, 6:30 p.m., Cumberland.

Beware of Mr. Baker Jay Bulger (USA) TWO STARS

Ginger Baker, cemented in rock history as one of its greatest drummers ever, gets irritated a lot while being interviewed in this film. Some viewers will too. Journalist-turned-director Jay Bulger often seems to steer the conversation toward the sentimental or humorous, trying often to get Baker’s goat, when the now-aged drummer’s tough patter needs no prompting. The archival footage is wonderful; the musicians who have known Baker (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce etc.) give terrific insights; the drummer’s itinerant life is ideal documentary material. Yet given the violent confrontation that opens the film (Baker jabs at the director’s nose with his walking stick), it’s easy to understand Baker’s annoyance. G.D.

April 27, 6:15 p.m., Bloor; April 28, 1:45 p.m., Bader; May 5, 1 p.m., Lightbox.

Detropia Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing (USA) TWO STARS

This visually striking but languid film argues that Detroit, which has lost half its population since the 1950s and can now boast 100,000 abandoned homes, is a harbinger of America’s decline. Some face the cutbacks to plant jobs or city services with angry denial; some, including a blues-club owner who appears at length, are impressively wise; others are just scavenging abandoned buildings for scrap metal that will be sold to China. Detropia is filled with startling images and facts but it’s overly long and, aside from a brief shot of the 1967 riot, lacks historic context: Doughnut Detroit suffered from hollowing out decades before the automakers’ bankruptcies in 2009. K.T.

May 5, 5:45 p.m., Bloor.

Francophrenia (Or: Don’t Kill me, I Know Where the Baby Is) James Franco, Ian Olds (USA) TWO STARS

Actor James Franco and director Ian Olds repurposed Franco’s on-set experience playing a psycho-killer artist named Franco on the daytime soap General Hospital, in an episode shot at L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art, in this mock psycho-thriller about an actor losing his mind in a role. For visual interest, occasionally the characters are made to look as though they’re illustrated, and the symbols on a washroom door engage in a debate in Franco’s head. What might have worked as a 15-minute short or a tape loop on a gallery wall soon grows tedious, neither funny nor serious enough to matter. L.L.

May 1, 11:30 p.m., Bloor; May 2, 10 p.m., Lightbox; May 5, 9:45 p.m., Royal.

G-Dog Freida Mock (USA) TWO STARS

The principle of the gang-intervening Jesuit priest Father Boyle is that “nothing stops a bullet like a job.” It could also be said that nothing stops a feature-length documentary like the lack of compelling narrative. This L.A. story about a cash-strapped, visionary, inner-city program of job-creating, tattoo removal and spiritual kinship is inspirational, but the film could be easily boiled down to the length of a 60 Minutes segment without losing its commendable message and impact. B.W.

April 28, 9:30 p.m., Lightbox; April 30, 6:45 p.m., Cumberland; May 5, 4 p.m., Bader.

Garden in the Sea Thomas Riedelsheimer (Mexico) TWO STARS

“It’s very Fitzcarraldo,” laughs the Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias as a massive crane lowers into the Gulf of California giant concrete screens intended to attract coral and fish, thereby commemorating Mexico’s conservation of the fragile Espiritu Santo island without marking the land itself. Very. Immortalized by filmmaker Werner Herzog, Fitzcarraldo was the Peruvian rubber baron who portaged a steamship through the Amazon jungle. This film features intriguing footage of the ocean, the island and the problems constructing Iglesias’s mini Atlantis, but the outlandishness of the project raises questions about the purpose of art that are largely unexamined. K.T.

April 28, 4 p.m., ROM; April 29, 9:30 p.m., Innis; May 6, 4 p.m., Lightbox.

Low and Clear Kahlil Hudson, Tyler Hughen (USA) TWO STARS

A portrait of two contrasting fishermen may not seem like an engrossing subject for a documentary and … it isn't. J.T. is the purist who warbles on in Zen-like ways about fishing as “a micro-examination of life itself” and a “brand of praying.” Xenie, his sort-of buddy, is the pragmatist who, hip-deep in the river's run, talks a lot less but catches a lot more. En route, we learn a couple of lessons: that fish apparently prefer pragmatic hooks and that even a 70-minute doc can seem interminably long. Pretty scenery, though. R.G.

May 2, 9 p.m., Cumberland; May 3, 10:45 a.m., IBader; May 6, 1 p.m., Bell Lightbox.

Price of Gold Sven Zellner, Chingunjav Borkhuu (Germany) TWO STARS

The setting is the Gobi Desert, a barren, golden landscape where desperate Mongolian nomads, known as “ninjas,” search for leftover gold veins that the giant international mining companies might have overlooked when they swept through the area years ago. The equipment is crude. The language is foul. They treat women (there is one female cook) like chattel, and each other like dirt. Sven Zellner, an accomplished photographer, spent years earning the trust of this scrappy group, which he follows into the claustrophobic shafts and the cramped quarters of the makeshift tent. His cinematography is breathtaking, and he drives home the inherent dangers of this illegal trade. But there’s still an overall flatness to Zellner’s debut documentary, perhaps because the men’s humanity is almost as scarce as the gold. G.M.

May 3, 4 p.m., Cumberland; May 4, 6:30 p.m., Lightbox; May 6, 1:30 p.m., Lightbox.

Smoke Traders Jeff Dorn, Catherine Bainbridge (Canada) TWO STARS

A sympathetic, intriguing look at the cigarette industry as practised by Canada’s native people, from Montreal’s Rezolution Pictures, the folks behind 2009’s Reel Injun. According to the film, Mohawks based in places like Kahnawake and Six Nations control half the cigarette business in Eastern Canada – a vexation for provincial and federal governments, which collect no tax revenue on sales. The doc is dominated by two personalities: Rainbow Tobacco CEO Robbie Dickson, who touts a nationwide network of tobacco shops on reserves selling native-made product, and Brian White, a former cigarette runner keen to use his earnings to build a solar-panel factory in Akwesasne. J.A.

May 3, 9 p.m., Lightbox; May 4, 3:45 p.m., Cumberland.

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