Tom RostonIndependent journalist Tom Roston checks in and writes about the world of documentaries in his column, Doc Soup.

You can follow Tom on Twitter @DocSoupMan.

Doc Soup: Docs at the Toronto Film Festival

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The Toronto International Film Festival just wrapped up over the weekend, so I have culled together some of the highlights from the documentary slate. There was a noticeable absence of celebrated Doc Star directors, other than An Inconvenient Truth‘s Davis Guggenheim, who continues to show his range with It Might Get Loud, an homage to the electric guitar. But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a lot of great looking films. Guggenheim’s latest got mixed reviews, but ought to draw a solid crowd of rock and roll fans. The only one of these I’ve seen is Religulous, which I’ll write about in a future post.

Larry Charles (Borat) directs as Bill Maher travels the world and does his best to eviscerate religion. Funny? Outrageous? Lame? More on that later…

Every Little Step
James Stern and Adam Del Deo chronicle Broadway’s biggest hit and the current revival of A Chorus Line.

Waltz with Bashir

I’ve already written about this incredibly intriguing doc from a former Israeli soldier about a great injustice carried out during the Lebanon War in the early 1980s. (image, right)

Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love

Director Chai Vasarhelyi creates a portrait of Ndour, the African musician who grew to global recognition, thanks partly to his work with Peter Gabriel.

The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World

Here’s an example of a movie that can be sold by its title alone. It’s got me intrigued. And it’s Weijun Chen‘s follow-up to his Please Vote for Me, so I’ve got my hopes up for this film about a 5,000-seat restaurant in Changsha, China.

Yes, Madam Sir
This doc about India’s first elite policewoman is one of the best reviewed from the festival.

Food, Inc.

Certainly topical and timely, this doc by director Robert Kenner feeds on the work of Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) to explore the ins and outs of what we eat. (I promise, no more puns for the rest of this post.)

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29

Longtime director Kevin Rafferty (Atomic Café) looks at the crazy times of 1968 through the prism of a football game played that year between the two schools.

Paris, Not France

The one film we can all agree to miss is Adria Petty‘s Paris, Not France, about Ms. Hilton. Perhaps that’s unfair, but the reviews were mixed at best, and it doesn’t seem like Petty’s aspiration to make a Truth or Dare about Paris Hilton is an endeavor worth giving more ink than this final dot of punctuation.
And that’s just a sampling. Check out the full catalogue.

I think the message here is that the doc world doesn’t skip a beat while the more celebrated filmmakers work on their current projects — there is a multitude of other accomplished or promising filmmakers who keep the docs coming.

Tom Roston
Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He comes to us as a ten-year veteran of Premiere magazine, where he was a Senior Editor, and where he wrote the column, Notes from the Dream Factory. Tom was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom has also written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, GQ, New York, Elle and other publications. Tom's favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi - Godfrey Reggio 2. Hoop Dreams - Steve James 3. The Up series - Michael Apted 4. Crumb - Terry Zwigoff 5. Capturing the Friedmans - Andrew Jarecki