9 mesmerizing Hot Docs you can stream from home

Though you can stream a number of Hot Docs from anywhere in Canada, the $15-$20 virtual tickets can make it a bit hard to commit without knowing what you're getting. To help with that, CBC News has compiled a list of nine can't-miss documentaries you can watch anywhere in the country from May 5 to 9.

Alongside buzzy in-person offerings, you can watch these documentaries from anywhere in Canada

A portion of a woman's face can be seen looking out of a circular window. Only one of her eyes is visible, the rest is obstructed by fabric and equipment.

For its 30th anniversary this year, Hot Docs Festival is showcasing premieres of everything from Stephen Curry and Michael J. Fox retrospectives to the Satanic-Panic inspired Satan Wants You and political exposé The Rise of Wagner — all at theatres in Toronto.

But for those who don't live in the city, there's still an exciting array of options to choose from through the festival's Hot Docs at Home program. You can stream a specific subset of their official offerings from anywhere in Canada (and even cut costs with a six-ticket streaming bundle) — though the $15-$20 virtual tickets can make it a bit hard to commit without knowing what you're getting.

To help with that, CBC News has compiled a list of nine can't-miss documentaries you can watch anywhere in the country from May 5-9th — all of which, for at least a moment, should leave your jaw on the floor.

20 Days in Mariupol

A fiery explosion in the upper floors of an apartment building is shown.

Streaming for $16.81

"We've sent all the photos and videos. Note to editors: graphic content. This is painful, this is painful to watch. But it must be painful to watch."

That quote from 20 Days in Mariupol is perhaps the best description of the harrowing, gripping documentary that will challenge you to keep your eyes on the screen. At the same time, its a vitally important piece of reporting with a strong enough message it's reasonable to wonder already if it will take home a trophy at next year's Academy Awards.

The documentary follows, and was made by, the only international reporting team left in the besieged city of Mariupol at the beginning of the Russian invasion. Avoid it if you have small children looking to join in, or would prefer to avoid scenes of graphic violence. But if you can stomach it, 20 Days in Mariupol may be one of the best things you watch all year.

The American Gladiators Documentary

Streaming for $16.81

In some ways, the '90s-era TV show American Gladiators may seem like a strange subject for a hard-hitting documentary — and a strange topic to qualify as one of the best films at this year's festival. But in a Vice partnership with ESPN, co-directors Ben Berman and Kirk Johnson accomplished the impossible. The two-part 30 For 30 miniseries The American Gladiators Documentary spins a Tiger King-style tale of deceit, double-dealings and heartache around both the athletes on the program and the minds behind it.

As each episode is an hour-and-a-half there's quite a bit of content to wade through, and a huge cast of characters ranging from the gladiators themselves to the larger-than-life creator John Ferraro. But it's more than worth the investment, and surprisingly may end up being one of the closest matches to this year's theme of human connection.

Someone Lives Here

Streaming for $16.81

Starting in 2020, Khaleel Seivwright built over 100 wooden shelters to help homeless people survive Toronto's winter. Soon after, the city shut him down. Someone Lives Here is a documentary project that started somewhere in the middle, and documents the struggle between Seivwright and the government, as well as the wider housing crisis and those fighting to survive it.

While the David versus Goliath tale is gripping in-and-of itself, Seivwright is a charismatic joy to watch, and the delicate and deeply emotional story is gripping from beginning to end.

The Longest Goodbye

Streaming for $16.81

How can humans expect to get to Mars if they can't maintain human connection?

That's the question at the centre of The Longest Goodbye, an All Light, Everywhere-reminiscent documentary that looks at all the intersections of technology and humanity that will be required to get astronauts to the end of an eventual three-year journey to Mars. The documentary showcases the struggles that astronauts have to survive in extreme isolation — as well the motivation to hide their psychological struggles from the doctors studying them if they ever hope to make it to a follow up expedition. It's a peek into a world not many have seen in an unvarnished way before, and a preview of a problem to come.


Streaming for $16.81

Caving may be one of the most confusing hobbies out there; even for thrill-seekers, who would willingly decide to descend into a claustrophobic space hundreds of metres underground, when the best possible outcome is a dead end?

Subterranean answers that question in documenting two groups, both in British Columbia — one seeking to find the longest cave system in Canada, the other exploring what could be the deepest. As anyone familiar with tragic caving incidents like the Tham Luang cave rescue or the Nutty Putty disaster can tell you, there is significant danger involved in both the expeditions covered here. But Subterranean shines in the examinations of its characters — who balance an inexplicable compulsion for exploration, with the responsibilities they have to their families, and the world above ground.

Praying for Armageddon

Streaming for $19.47

Praying for Armageddon is an incredibly interesting and incredibly startling examination of the Christian fundamentalist influence on United States politics — especially as it pertains to the country's relations with Israel.

Ranging from The Intercept's investigative reporter Lee Fang to a rogue evangelical biker gang to politicians in both countries, Praying for Armageddon is a little meandering in scope. But its major accomplishment is the eventual directness of its message, and the chilling feeling its audience will likely be left with.


Streaming for $16.81

Described by its director as a documentary meant to put Canada's justice system on trial, Cynara is a Serial-esque look at a murder in question. After a mother calls 911 over a break-in, police and firefighters arrive to find her unresponsive, and her daughter dead. An arrest and a conviction later, there are more questions than answers.

Director Sherien Barsoum does an artful job of holding the conflicting accounts in hand over the course of the documentary. While the eventual landing place is far less persuasive than Cynara feels like it wants to be, the questions it raises are compelling enough.

We Are Guardians

Ten people wearing all black stand in a forest, staring at the camera. The woman in the front wears a colourful headdress.

Streaming for $19.47

"Twenty years ago that boy would have been cut with his own chainsaw, and that would be it. It was much easier to solve problems."

That's the sentiment of We Are Guardians, a landowner doing what he can to fend off illegal loggers in the forests of Brazil. Focusing on the self-declared Indigenous forest guardians, the documentary is equal parts hopeful and heartrending as shots showcasing the work done to protect the Amazon are interspersed with everything being done to destroy it. Stunning visuals abound here, as do delicate portraits of the characters We Are Guardians follows.

I'm Just Here for the Riot

A man holds a phone camera up to a projected wall of Facebook comments.

Streaming for $16.81

Another 30 For 30 documentary seeing its world premiere at Hot Docs, I'm Just Here for the Riot is perhaps not as compelling as The American GladiatorsDocumentary on the surface — as Canadians, we have all seen footage of the 2011 Stanley Cup riot. But where this documentary does succeed is in its inclusion of actual participants in the riot itself — numerous rioters give their accounts here, in an oddly sympathetic treatise against internet shaming.

The results are muddled — the creators even went so far as to interview So You've Been Publicly Shamed author Jon Ronson in their angle of vindication — but getting a glimpse into the fallout is worth the price of admission.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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