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Hot Docs: Technological Revolution, 'Total Disruption,' Stolen Privacy

Photo of John Anderson By John Anderson | Thompson on Hollywood April 29, 2013 at 2:20PM

“Isn’t it ironic that I’m having all these technical problems when I’m supposed to be talking about technology?” director Ondi Timoner asked a very patient (for awhile) Hot Docs audience Monday. Well, yeah, but it’s hardly the only irony that’s been on display here in Toronto.
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Ondi Timoner
Ondi Timoner

“Isn’t it ironic that I’m having all these technical problems when I’m supposed to be talking about technology?” director Ondi Timoner asked a very patient (for awhile) Hot Docs audience Monday. Well, yeah, but it’s hardly the only irony that’s been on display here in Toronto.

Just as Hot Docs prepares to break its own attendance records, Canada’s federal George W. Bush impersonators have been cutting doc funding to the CBC, Telefilm and the National Film Board of Canada (prompting sit-ins in Montreal and filmmaker Kevin McMahon, in the National Post, to make a case for the documentary as Canada’s official art form. Maybe then it would get as much respect as, say, lacrosse). The NFB, at the same time, has been allowing its attention to be diverted toward transmedia projects, rather than traditional film, which is symptomatic of officialdom’s desperate-seeming effort to be hip.

Then there’s the likable Timoner, who’s won the top Sundance doc prize twice (for “Dig!” and “We Live In Public”) and was supposed to be delivering the Hot Docs keynote address to a just-about-packed house about the state of internet technology and its influence on doc-making. As advertised, Timoner would draw “on her research into how innovators in technology and business are permanently transforming our lives as well as her own experience as a content creator in this rapidly evolving landscape, to address what this means for the media industries.” In a talk titled “Total Disruption,” Timoner would address the “revolution taking place on millions of screens.”

To a crowd that had clearly come to hear some news they could use, the most trenchant observation coming for Timoner was that they all live in a time when they might as well forget about their rights as artists. “If you don’t give it away, it’s stolen anyway.”

This article is related to: Hot Docs , Festivals, Ondi Timoner, Documentary, Documentaries


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.