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THE REAGAN SHOW

Ronald Reagan incomparably raised the level of staging and performance that go into being the leader of the free world, which we’re seeing today on a grander scale than could have been imagined at the time. Composed of archival footage and set against the backdrop of the Cold War, this remarkable documentary reconstructs the Reagan era almost as if it was a reality TV show. A gun-toting movie hero first and the 40th President of the United States second, Reagan was a born actor.

THE JAZZ LOFT ACCORDING TO W. EUGENE SMITH

Step into one of the most eccentric and remarkable spaces in New York music history: W. Eugene Smith’s legendary jazz loft. In the heyday of jazz between 1957 and 1965, former LIFE photographer Smith lived in a chaotic mess of an apartment on Sixth Avenue. Musicians would play into the wee hours, including masters like Thelonious Monk, and unbeknownst to them, Smith had the whole joint set up with recording equipment. In his time in the building, he captured 4,000 hours of audio tape and took 40,000 photographs.

Opera on Screen: OTELLO

Renowned German tenor Jonas Kaufmann gives the performance of a lifetime as Otello in Keith Warner’s new production of Verdi’s thrilling Shakespeare-inspired opera, conducted by Antonio Pappano. This riveting production focuses on the psychological turmoil of Otello’s mental collapse and the clash of light and dark, good and evil. French baritone Ludovic Tézier adds richness as the devastating traitor, Iago.

THE WAR SHOW

Replace the expert-led and distant views of the revolution in Syria with this deeply affecting doc carved from 300 hours of footage shot amidst conflict by everyday citizens. In this personal account, Damascus-based radio host Obaidah Zytoon immerses us in the euphoria of protest and feeling on the verge of real change in 2011, through the emotional trauma and bloodshed of the following years.

RESTLESS CREATURE: WENDY WHELAN

Called "America's greatest contemporary ballerina," Wendy Whelan is preparing to leave the New York City Ballet after a record-breaking three decades with the company. Having established herself as one of her generation's greatest dancers during her tenure at the NYCB, Whelan seeks out a new challenge with a new piece, Restless Creature. She enlists four young choreographers to each come up with a duet between them and herself.

MERMAIDS

Who doesn’t have nostalgic memories of mermaids from their childhood, whether it be Ariel or Daryl Hannah? Well, this Hot Docs favourite takes an endearing look at people united by their love of mermaids. Or rather, their love of “mermaiding”, which is to say identifying as mermaids. It may sound like an eccentric lifestyle choice, but director Ali Weinstein takes their calling seriously, and examines the healing capabilities of fantasy to work through real world pain, whether it be abuse, discrimination, or struggles with identity.

Ballet on Screen: THE DREAM/SYMPHONIC VARIATIONS/MARGUERITE AND ARMAND

Join us for not just one, not two, but three hypnotizing masterworks from the great British choreographer Frederick Ashton. The program opens with The Dream, a playful piece derived from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which Ashton instills the work’s trademark wit and whimsy, accompanied by a charming score from Felix Mendelssohn. Among Ashton’s most revered ballets, Symphonic Variations experiments with tempo and movement in a graceful work of pure dance.

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