I entered the world of documentaries and Hot Docs late in the game -- when I first dove into festival coverage for Cinematical back in ol' 2007 -- but oh, I fell quickly and hard. That first year, Hot Docs immediately became the prime movie hurrah, trumping my long love of the Worldwide Short Film Fest and more than holding its own against the hustle and Hollywood bustle of the Toronto International Film Festival. At first I believed that it was because I always picked great films. Very rarely did one disappoint.
But there was another aspect plucking at the strings of fan love. Having written the Girls on Film column for over a year now (Happy Anniversary as of April 20!), I realized that I was also enamored with the festival because of the strong and thriving female voice that it, and the world of documentaries, celebrates. It's not unnatural to experience a number of excellent films directed by or featuring women. In the documentary world, women in film is not an anomaly. It's not a feminist vision. It's not a niche segment of the industry. It's just a part of life.
That first year was pure, real-girl glee. I almost melted over Jessica Yu's artistry in tackling a mixture of Euripedes and masculinity with Protagonist, how Jennifer Venditti celebrated uniqueness in Billy the Kid, and how Arne Johnson and Shane King showed the levels with which Girls Rock! Without having an agenda in my choices and assignments, I experienced the intermingled cinematic world we usually only dream about when it comes to narrative features.