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Curious Minds at Hot Docs Festival

New to the 2021 Hot Docs Festival, Curious Minds pairs films with engaging discussions to further explore the topics and ideas presented.

Led by experts, journalists and artists who offer personal insight and expertise, these discussions invite audiences to “dig deeper.”

All Curious Minds at Hot Docs discussions will be available free below. Ticket and pass holders can also access the discussion via the film streaming page.

Surviving the Pandemic, One Bowl at a Time

Film Pairing: Come Back Anytime

In this conversation, learn the story of a Japan-based restaurant owner who’s dreams of opening up a Toronto ramen shop were almost thwarted by COVID-19, if not for modern technology, and a determined Toronto-based pastry chef. Journey with us through the process of opening a business and recreating signature ramen flavors remotely and what it means to celebrate the tenacity of the restaurant industry during COVID-19.

Guest Speakers

Aoi Yoshida, Chef and Co-Owner, Musoshin Toronto

headshot As chef of and co-owner of Musoshin Toronto, Aoi Yoshida serves up both traditional and vegan ramen in Roncesvalles. Originally from Kyoto, Aoi first started her career as a dental hygienist before meeting her husband and moving to Canada. Encouraged to pursue her love of food, Aoi quickly found success sharing her traditional Japanese desserts with friends and eventually opened Hollyhock Japanese Sweets before partnering with fellow restaurateur and former classmate, Shin Inaba, to start up Musoshin Toronto. While the focus of the restaurant is ramen, Aoi has woven specialty items into the daily offerings like her limited signature shokupan and Japanese desserts, including a cheesecake influenced by her mom and time growing up on a dairy farm.

Instagram: @musoshin_toronto
Instagram: @hollyhock_japanese_sweets

Shin Inaba, Chef and Owner, Musoshin (Kameoka, Gion, Takatsuki, and Toronto)

headshot Entrepreneur at heart, Shin Inaba is a chef and restaurateur based in Japan. While growing up in Tamba, Japan, Shin studied architecture before soon turning his focus to food. In 2012, drawing from 15 years within the hospitality industry, both cooking and learning the trade, Shin opened his first ramen restaurant, Musoshin. He now boasts three popular locations in Japan serving customers bowls of hearty ramen (with a broth that took a year to perfect!) in Kyoto and Osaka. His newest expansion with Aoi Yoshida in Toronto is the first location for Musoshin overseas.

Instagram: @musoshin_toronto
Instagram: @hollyhock_japanese_sweets

Not Your Villain: Creating Inclusivity in the Arts

Film Pairing: Gallant Indies

From a young Sri-Lankan boy growing up to realize that his beloved opera casts people of colour as the villain, to a viral video of a ballerina finally receiving pointe shoes that match her skin tone, the barriers to inclusion in the arts are becoming more and more apparent.

An opera singer, a ballet dancer and an artistic director sit down to discuss the importance of diversifying content in the arts, and how arts organizations are (or should be) working towards creating more inclusive content. Using personal experiences in the field, they explore barriers for audience and performers that slow down progress, and ways to overcome such barriers.

Guest Speakers

Tene Ward, Corps de Ballet, National Ballet of Canada

headshot Tene Ward was born in Sydney, Australia, and trained at Canberra Festival Ballet School in Canberra, Australia, The Australian Ballet School and European School of Ballet in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She joined The National Ballet of Canada in 2018 as a RBC Apprentice and became a member of the Corps de Ballet in 2019. Tene’s repertoire includes The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Anna Karenina, Chaconne, The Dream, Etudes, Paquita, Angels’ Atlas, Piano Concerto #1 and Orpheus Alive.

Website: The National Ballet of Canada

Barbara Tomasic, Director of Artistic Programs, Gateway Theatre

headshot Originally from New Westminster, BC, Ovation award-winner Barbara Tomasic has made a career working in theatres across Canada directing, acting and producing theatre productions with companies such as Soulpepper Theatre, Prairie Theatre Exchange, the Firehall Arts Centre, and Musical Theatreworks. As a performing arts educator, she has been on faculty at Capilano University and taught at Studio 58, UBC and Canadian College of Performing Arts. Barbara currently serves as the director of artistic programs at Gateway Theatre with a vision to expand programming to reflect its surrounding communities.

Article: Artistic Director Announcement

Asitha Tennekoon, Tenor Opera Singer and Co-Founder, Amplified Opera

headshot Asitha Tennekoon is a Sri Lankan opera artist based in Canada who has quickly established himself as one of the country’s most versatile singing artists. A Dora award-winning performer, Asitha is also a co-founder of Amplified Opera (AO): a Toronto based indie opera company that places equity seeking artists at the centre of public discourse. As part of his work with AO, Asitha continues to participate in online residencies, and lead webinars and workshops. He continues to advocate for meaningful change in the industry through AO’s two year residency as Disruptor-In-Residence at the Canadian Opera Company. Asitha’s operatic highlights include performances with Opéra de Montréal, Tapestry Opera, Against the Grain Theatre, Vancouver Opera, Soundstreams Canada, Opera on the Avalon, Opera 5, and Opera Lafayette (USA)

Website: Amplified Opera
Website: Asitha Tennekoon


Cryptocurrency 101

Film Pairing: Dead Man’s Switch a crypto mystery

The news is constantly abuzz with the latest financial fad: cryptocurrency. Don’t know a thing about cryptocurrency? Dive into the mysterious world as financial expert James Royal answers all our unasked questions about NFTs, the blockchain and digital currencies. James will take us from the basics, to some of the more intricate elements, such as digital trading cards, and how a tweet from Elon Musk can influence a whole financial system. As Canadians get closer to the possibility of a digital currency, find out why it is so appealing, why its consequences can be detrimental, and what the future holds.

Guest Speaker

James Royal, Senior Investing & Wealth Management Reporter, Bankrate

headshot James F. Royal, Ph.D., is a senior reporter on investing and wealth management at Bankrate. He was formerly a stock analyst for The Motley Fool and a writer for NerdWallet. He is the author of The Zen of Thrift Conversions, a book about how to invest in hidden bank stocks. He believes in the power of education to help individuals make smart financial decisions that can markedly improve their lives. Royal is regularly quoted on investing topics in national news media, such as CNBC and Forbes. He holds a doctorate in literature from the University of Florida, where he was an award-winning instructor.

Twitter: @JimRoyalPhd
Website: The Zen of Thrift Conversions


The Way We Work: Unpacking the Gig Economy

Film Pairing: The Gig is Up

Food delivery, rideshare, online work. We live in an era when convenience is at our fingertips and workers and consumers alike flock to these platforms. From app-based work, to freelancers who are contract-to-contract, gig work is increasingly prevalent—and perhaps increasingly expected—in today’s society. It creates jobs, allows workers to create their dream schedule, be their own boss, but what are the darker sides to the gig economy? Why do we see groups such as immigrants, refugees and young people engaged in this work at a higher rate than others and what are the lasting consequences of this economy that prioritizes flexibility and job quantity over financial stability? Uniquely qualified to discuss the gig economy, Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Jennifer Scott sit down with Ausma Malik of the Atkinson Foundation to discuss the merits, and the ramifications of this new era of work.


Ausma Malik, Director of Advocacy and Organizing, Atkinson Foundation

headshot The first hijab-wearing Muslim woman elected to public office in Canada, Ausma Malik is known for staring down hate and inspiring hope for racial justice, economic reconstruction, and democratic renewal. Currently the Atkinson Foundation’s director of advocacy and organizing, she collaborates with community organizers and policy innovators to advocate for decent work and a fair economy. Ausma is also a member of the advisory committee for Ryerson University’s Centre for Labour-Management Relations, and the host of Just Work It — Atkinson’s podcast for millennial organizers. From 2014 to 2018, she served as a trustee elected to the Toronto District School Board. Ausma was a 2018 Toronto City Council candidate.

Ausma Malik
Email | Instagram

Atkinson Foundation
Website | Twitter

Just Work It
Website | Instagram

Other Work
How to Kick Hate’s Butt, [email protected]
Can Toronto council better reflect the city’s diversity?
Five Good Ideas about Podcasting with a Purpose

Guest Speakers

Jennifer Scott, App-based worker and President, Gig Workers United CUPW

headshot Jennifer Scott is a gig worker who has been delivering food by bicycle in downtown Toronto for four years. She is also the president of Gig Workers United CUPW, the Toronto-based community union organizing to win labour protections and workers rights for gig workers. As a worker-organizer with Foodsters United CUPW, she was part of the worker driven campaign that successfully won the right to unionize Foodora gig workers. Additionally, she is the executive director of the Foodsters United Co-op in partnership with FoodShare TO, a worker co-op start up in Toronto that is re-envisioning the gig economy as a pathway to build ownership/sustainability for workers and drive business towards local restaurant/retail businesses.

Twitter: @PalimpsestJenn

Gig Workers United
Twitter | Instagram | Website

Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Work & Wealth Reporter and Host of Hustled Podcast, Toronto Star

headshot Sara Mojtehedzadeh is the Star’s Work and Wealth reporter. Working in collaboration with The Atkinson Foundation, she has sought to increase coverage of issues related to income and wealth inequality. Sara reports on the changing workplace, including precarious work, labour issues, and workers’ compensation. Her work at the Toronto Star has been recognized by the Hillman Foundation prize for social-justice oriented investigative journalism. She also received the JHR/Canadian Association of Journalists Award for human rights reporting in 2017. Previously, Sara worked for the BBC World Service.

Twitter: @SaraMojtehedz
Website: Hustled Podcast

LIVE! Cooking & Conversation with Chef Luke (and Friends)

Saturday, May 1, 5:00 PM

Film Pairing: Until Further Notice

Chef Luke invites audience members to recreate the experience of food and community by joining him in the Zoom kitchen to cook up a storm. In this one-of-a-kind live Curious Minds, we pair film Q&A with cooking class to allow you to interact with Chef Luke and other guests, while creating a tasty meal from scratch, all in one hour. As we aim to create the feel of a community cooking class, please ensure you have access to a webcam to participate in the video Zoom meeting.

Registration is now closed.
Zoom meeting details will be sent to those who registered.


Guest Speakers

Chef Luke Donato, Chef & Hospitality Consultant

headshot Luke Donato is formerly the executive chef and owner of the French bistro Bacchanal. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute, Luke has honed his skills in esteemed restaurants in Toronto, Montreal and New York City. He currently works as a consultant for new hospitality projects.

Instagram: @cheflukedonato

Tiffany Hsiung, Filmmaker

headshot Tiffany Hsiung is an award-winning filmmaker based in Toronto. Following the success of her directorial debut at Hot Docs 2016 with The Apology, Tiffany returns to Hot Docs this year with her latest project Until Further Notice.

Priscilla Galvez, Producer

headshotPriscilla Galvez is a film producer based in Toronto. After producing several successful documentary shorts, Priscilla will be attending Hot Docs this year with one of her latest projects, Until Further Notice.

John Sinopoli, Owner & Chef, Ascari Hospitality Group

Hassel Aviles, Event Producer and Co-Founder, Not 9-5

headshot Hassel Aviles is an event producer and co-founder of Not 9-5, a non-profit organization that empowers hospitality workers by mobilizing support for mental health and substance abuse.

Instagram: @hassel_aviles

Sasha Ortega, Restaurateur, Tala

How You Can Help

Save Hospitality CA
A coalition of independent restaurants which outlines what needs to be done to save the country’s dining industry, as well as caterers, farmers, food shops, construction companies, breweries and wineries affected by the restaurant shutdown.

Website: savehospitality.ca
Email: [email protected]

Not 9 to 5
A non-profit global leader in mental health advocacy for the food and beverage sector.

Website: www.not9to5.org/
Instagram: @not9to5_

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Presenting Platinum Partner

  • logo Scotia Wealth Management

Founding Partner

  • logo Rogers

Signature Partner

  • Logo Cbc Gem

Presenting Partners

  • logo Crave
  • logo Netflix

Major Supporters

  • logo telefilm
  • logo tourism_Celebrate-Ontario