It’s opening night at the Hot Docs film festival. I’m in line, waiting for admittance along with a hundred or so of my soul mates. I admit I don’t know any of them personally, but at this time of great anticipation, we share a common denominator that brings us together, for at least a few hours or so. At this moment, there is only one essential thing that defines us: We are all Doc-Lovers.
Amongst so many kindred spirits, I can’t hold back on the movie-addict clichés: “There’s magic in the air” – “I’m trying to breath it all in”. . . A volunteer rips my ticket at the front door and I make a dash for the inner sanctum (hoping to get a front-row-centre seat).
Playing on the screen are previews and highlights of festival goodies. I listen in on the chatter around me. A group of women are discussing a doc they just saw, Keep on Keepin’ On about a legendary jazz trumpeter who mentors a blind piano prodigy… hmm, sounds good. I’ll have to add that to my ‘must-see’ list. … I lean in to hear more of the comments… A couple behind me mentions The Engineer and how it was difficult to watch because of its ‘goriphic’ content. And – gasp – I hear that a woman even passed out after that one, while exiting the cinema.
Maybe that doc won’t make the list for me, but then again, when has a narrative film ever caused people to faint? The truth can be hard to handle – but I made a mental note to check it out. Too intriguing to ignore, and the intensive ‘truth’ factor is what I love about docs. And I’m sure this one would make for pretty interesting conversation!
The lights dim – and I feel a rush of excitement. The Actress opens with a beautiful, somewhat haunting scene including the subject of the film – a short-lived TV actress named Brandy. She is wearing a red dress while washing dishes and confesses to us, “I tend to break things”. With that simple intro, I am immediately hooked and prepared to be drawn into Brandy’s nether-word of ‘True Confessions’.
When the film ends, there is a big applause that pulls me back to the reality of my world once again. I am at once, the same – but different. I have been temporarily transformed by another’s existence – and I am still feeling residual effects from the enchanting truth of her experience.
The director and Brandy take the stage to answer some questions. The very curious audience refuses to let the story end, and want to explore more of her world as it relates to the making of the film. Brandy admits that she liked having the camera on her while filming her journey and her struggle to balance both motherhood and trying to get back to her other love, which is acting. The camera reflected her dark truths as she became honest with herself and came to terms with her realized reality of unhappiness. I am even more entranced by her continued honesty as she stands fully-dimensional before us. I am in awe of her courage in revealing her emotional truth, by exposing aspects of her life that must not have been easy to do – even for a trained actress. At this point I’m like a stage-struck kid as I think, “Wow! She really put herself out there – her life – for everyone to see!”
I leave the cinema with a smile on my face, and a pleasurable stirring of satisfaction inside. It’s one of a variety of familiar, stimulating feelings that comes so often after time well spent through another of my many viewing indulgences as a Doc-Addict. My love for documentaries grows with each film – and I can’t wait for my next Hot Docs adventure!