OpenCanada at HotDocs

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Kim Jong-il liked movies. But there's a lot more to the connection between geopolitics and film. HotDocs, the Canadian international documentary film festival, highlights the many ways in which the camera can play ambassador, helping us to understand countries and other actors in the international system. interviews some of our favourite ambassador directors from this year's festival,

There was Ghandi. Now there is Anonymous. Brian Knappenberger, director of We are Legion: The Story of Hacktivists, on why the group that pranked the Church of Scientology is "the civil disobedience group of our time." More...

Canadians like watching men on skates chase pucks. Tajiks like watching men on horseback chase goat carcasses. Najeeb Mirza, the director of Buzkashi! on what the sport tells us about Central Asia and how CIDA brought him to filmmaking. More...

China increased its military spending by 11 percent this year. But it's also investing in another kind of fighting. Yung Chang, director of China Heavyweight, on what China's approach to boxing tells us about the country's approach to the world. More...

The thing about film festivals is, unless you’re in the host city, it’s difficult to take part. But don’t worry, has you covered with a list of some of our favourite international affairs documentaries available for download and rent online. This is just the beginning – please send us your suggested additions as we work toward accumulating a go-to list for best international affairs documentaries.

Hell and Back Again

Nominated for best documentary at the Academy Awards this year, this cinematographically captivating film follows an American soldier, first, deployed to Afghanistan and, later, adjusting to civilian life after being wounded.


Nominated for best documentary at the Academy Awards last year, the product of Tim Heatherington and Stephen Junger’s collaboration chronicles a besieged platoon in Afghanistan’s dreaded Korengal Valley over the course of a year.


Directed by Canadian Barry Stevens, the film relays the first chapter of the International Criminal Court through the trials of its inaugural Chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo.

The Fog of War

Winner of the 2003 best documentary at the Academy Awards, Errol Morris’s deep dive into Robert McNamara’s psyche reveals a unique perspective on the Vietnam war – and many of the parallel conflicts we are fighting today.


A National Film Board of Canada classic, the personal film follows Dr. James Orbinski, President of Médecins Sans Frontières in the 1990s, through war-torn Somalia, Rwanda and the DRC.

Grace, Milly, Lucy… Child Soldiers

Another Canadian-made film, this foray into the world of child soldiers tells the story of three women coping after leaving the “bush.”

Enemies of the People

Winner of the 2010 Sundance Special Jury Prize and the Human Rights Watch Award for Courage in Filmmaking, this documentary captures the testimony of those responsible for the deaths of over two million people in Cambodia’s killing fields.

God Grew Tired of Us

The 2006 winner of Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize for Documentary and Audience Award, this film chronicles the lives of three “lost boys of Sudan” and their relocation to the United States.

In the series


Najeeb Mirza on Tajikistan, Goat Carcasses, and Moderniziation

OpenCanada talks to the director of the documentary Buzkashi! .

Yung Chang on Boxing, Mao, and Individuality in China

OpenCanada talks to the director of the documentary China Heavyweight.

Brian Knappenberger on Anonymous, Scientology, and Freedom

OpenCanada talks to the director of the documentary We Are Legion.