2019 Festival Welcomes Special Guests

Hot Docs is honoured to welcome a number of special guests to this year’s Festival. In addition to guest subjects, 208 directors will be in attendance at the Festival to introduce their films and participate in post-screening audience Q&As.


Featured guests are listed below. In most cases, the guests will be present at one or more screenings.

Brooke Harrison, Samuel Zeif, Victoria Gonzalez, Dillon McCooty, and Manuel and Patricia Oliver from After Parkland (D: Jake Lefferman, Emily Taguchi |USA | 2018 | 92 min) – Brooke, Samuel, Victoria and Dillon are all students who survived a school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FLA. Manuel and Patricia are the parents of Joaquin Oliver, a student who was killed in the Parkland school shooting.

Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer from Ask Dr. Ruth (D: Ryan White | USA | 2019 | 100 min) – World-renowned sex therapist, media personality and author.

Aaron James, John Cleese, Suji Gelerman, Amiée Morrison, Sherry Lee Benson-Podolchuk and Robert Hockett from Assholes: A Theory (D: John Walker | Canada | 2019 | 81 min)– Aaron James is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Assholes: A Theory. Lively commentary is provided throughout the film by British actor, comedian and screenwriter John Cleese, who will be in attendance for the second screening on May 1. Suji is a psychotherapist and Amiée is a professor in the University of Waterloo’s Literature and Digital Humanities department—both provide comments on the psychology and behavior of assholes. Sherry Lee is a former RCMP officer who wrote Women Not Wanted, an exposé of RCMP workplace bullying; she is now she’s now a consultant and keynote speaker on workplace conflict, bullying and harassment. Robert is interviewed in the film—he is a law professor at Cornell University who consulted for both Occupy Wall Street and the Federal Reserve in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008.

Sven Marquardt from Beauty and Decay (D: Annekatrin Hendel | Germany | 2019 | 79 min) – Sven is a nightclub bouncer in Berlin as well as a photographer; he’s known for taking stunning black-and-white photos of East Berlin’s subculture scene before the Berlin Wall came down.

Leyner Palacios Asprilla from Bojayá: Caught in the Crossfire (D: Oisín Kearney | UK, Ireland | 2019 | 80 min) – Leyner is a Colombian and Chocó community leader and Nobel Peace Prize nominee who lost 32 relatives in the conflict between the Colombian military and FARC guerillas.

Kim Pate and Bianca Mercer from Conviction (D: Ariella Pahlke, Nance Ackerman, Teresa MacInnes | Canada | 2019 | 78 min) – Kim Pate is a Canadian senator and past executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies who’s spent 30 years advocating for women inside prisons. Bianca Mercer is an advocate and film subject who collaborated with filmmakers to tell her story of being incarcerated in a Nova Scotia prison while six months pregnant.

Stephan, Laddy GaGa; Nemis, Queen Lactatia; Jason, Suzan Bee Anthony; Bracken Gvasalia from Drag Kids (D: Megan Wennberg | Canada | 2019 | 80 min) – Preteenagers who unite over their love of the art of drag to perform in Montreal’s Pride.

Gordon Lightfoot from Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind (D: Joan Tosoni, Martha Kehoe | Canada | 2018 | 90 min) – Gordon is a famous Canadian singer songwriter; this film recounts his life story as one of Canada’s most treasured musical icons.

Haydee Oberreuter from Haydee and the Flying Fish (D: Pachi Bustos | Chile, Brazil | 2019 | 73 min) – Haydee is a Chilean woman who was subjected to torture 40 years ago under the country’s dictator, Augusto Pinochet, and is now awaiting the verdict of a trial that will bring her torturers to justice.

Chuck from Hi, AI (D: Isa Willinger | Germany | 2019 | 85 min) – Chuck is a film subject who engages in soul-searching conversations with his female companion robot while on a road trip.

Jennifer Doudna from Human Nature (D: Adam Bolt | USA | 2019 | 107 min) – Jennifer is a biochemist; the Doudna Lab discovers and develops CRISPR systems and other RNA-guided mechanisms of gene regulation.

Stacey Sundberg, Silvia Ortiz, Óscar Sánchez Viesca, and Dawn Marie Paley from Illusions of Control (D: Shannon Walsh | Canada | 2019 | 87 min) – A film about resilience in in the wake of devastating personal and social crises, Stacey is Yellowknives Dene First Nation, and the director of environmental non-profit Ecology North who builds on Indigenous knowledge to confront toxic legacies in Yellowknife. Silvia and Óscar are parents who have been searching for their missing daughter in the deserts of Northern Mexico for 14 years. Dawn is the author of the book Drug War Capitalism, that follows the drug war story throughout Latin America to US boardrooms and political offices.

Richard McKay from Killing Patient Zero (D: Laurie Lynd | Canada | 2019 | 100 min) – Richard McKay is the author of Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic, and is a professor in the department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge.

Máxima Acuña and Mirtha Vasquez from Maxima (D: Claudia Sparrow | USA | 2018 | 88 min) – Máxima Acuña is a Peruvian subsistence farmer, environmentalist and winner of the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, known for her fight to resist a mining company; Mirtha Vasquez Maxima’s lawyer who has taken on her case against Newmont Mining.

Erin Davis and Vince Wilburn from Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (D: Stanley Nelson | USA, UK | 2019 | 113 min) – Erin is Miles Davis’ son and Vince is his nephew.

Jack Sim from Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man (D: Lily Zepeda | USA | 2019 | 87 min) – Jack, aka Mr. Toilet, is the founder of the World Toilet Organization and World Toilet College (WTC) who’s made it his mission to raise the standards of public toilets around the world.

Scott Comber from My Dads, My Moms and Me (D: Julia Ivanova | Canada | 2019 | 85 min) – Scott is a gay man who connected with a surrogate to father twins.

Alcee Chriss III, Yuan Shen, Nick Capozzoli, Thomas Gaynor from Pipe Dreams (D: Stacey Tenenbaum | Canada | 2018 | 78 min) – Young organists from around the world who competed in Montreal’s prestigious Canadian International Organ Competition.

Rod Macleod, Patrick McMahon and Rob Talach from Prey (D: Matt Gallagher | Canada | 2019 | 85 min) – Rod is the plaintiff in a sexual abuse case against the Catholic Basilian Order of Priests; Rob is his lawyer. Patrick is a witness at the trial who is a survivor of clergy sexual abuse.

Leilani Farha from Push (D: Fredrik Gertten | Sweden | 2019 | 92 min) – A film about the affordable housing crisis, Leilani is the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing and has a background advocating for the homeless.

Ai Weiwei from The Rest (D: Ai Weiwei | Germany | 2018 | 78 min) – Ai Weiwei is a contemporary artist and activist who directed this film.

Eva Collé from Searching Eva (D: Pia Hellenthal | Germany | 2019 | 84 min) – Eva is a 25-year-old and Berliner who models her message of “you can pretend to be whatever you want to be” through selfies, sex scenes and social media comments that capture the contradictions and fluidity of being everything and nothing at once.

Freddy McConnell from Seahorse (D: Jeanie Finlay | UK | 2019 | 90 min) – A young, trans-man who becomes pregnant after yearning to be a father.

Kevin Hearn, Dallas Thompson and Mark Anthony Jacobson from There Are No Fakes (D: Jamie Kastner | Canada | 2019 | 114 min) – Kevin is a bandmember of the Canadian rock group Barenaked Ladies who contests the authenticity of an artwork he’s purchased that was attributed to Indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau; he’s also the composer for the film. Dallas is a witness in the case who reveals how he helped a forgery ring sell fake paintings. Mark is a First Nations painter originally from northwestern Ontario who knew Morrisseau.

Deane Berg, Dr. Daniel Cramer, Dr. Ami Zota, Dr. David Michaels, Allen Smith, Mymy Nuygen, Rick Smith, Dr. Shruthi Mahalingiah, and Dr. Tamarra James Todd from Toxic Beauty (D: Phyllis Ellis | Canada | 2019 | 90 min) – Deane is a whistleblower who was the first to go to trial after suing Johnson & Johnson over accusations that its talcum powder products caused her ovarian cancer. Dr. Cramer is a Harvard Professor and world-renowned Epidemiologist at Brigham Women’s Hospital. Dr. Ami Zota Environmental Health Scientist, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health at the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health. Dr. Michaels was appointed by President Clinton and President Obama as Assistant Secretary of the Environment and Occupational Safety; he is also the author of Doubt Is Their Product. Allen Smith is the lead attorney at The Smith Law Firm, P.L.L.C. and is the first lawyer to seek damages for a client based on injuries caused by exposure to talcum powder. Mymy is a Boston University medical student who measures her chemical body burden from over 27 products while scientists monitor her shocking results. Rick Smith is an environmentalist and co-author of Slow Death by Rubber Duck, a book featured in the film. Dr. Mahalingiah, a reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist and Physician-Scientist of Reproductive Health. Dr. Tamarra James Todd is an Epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Willie O’Ree from Willie (D: Laurence Mathieu-Leger | USA, Canada | 2018 | 89 min) – Willie is a former NHL hockey player who was the first person to break the league’s colour barrier in 1958; he was recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

All >

Presenting Platinum Partner

  • logo Scotia Wealth Management

Signature Partner

  • logo CBC Docs

Presenting Partners

  • Logo Crave 2019
  • logo Netflix
  • logo Rogers

Major Supporters

  • logo Celebrate-Ontario
  • logo telefilm

Official Airline Partner

  • logo Delta Web