Documentary Highlights at #HIFF38

By HIFF | October 30, 2018

HIFF is proud to present an outstanding selection of documentary feature films at this year’s festival, covering everything from climate change to live streamers on six-figure salaries to boy bands, and all the vibrant and important stories in between.

But with so much on offer it can sometimes be difficult to make up your mind on what to watch, so we asked our Program Associate Duncan Caillard to pick out some of his favorites from the lineup.


When Filipino trans-woman Jennifer Laude is found dead, all evidence points to a US marine private as her killer. However, as the marine is protected from Filipino law, the case forms a flashpoint in relations between the two countries and in international LGBT rights. Told with compassion and authority from the perspective of Jennifer’s mother and attorney, CALL HER GANDA exposes the injustices of sexism, transphobia and national independence at the forefront of international debate.

Duncan’s take: As recent events continue to throw transgender people into the public spotlight and call their rights into question, stories like this become more important than ever. Along with LEITIS IN WAITING and TRANSMILITARY, CALL HER GANDA proves a powerful statement about the power of family and humanity.


When America’s last standing roller rinks are threatened with closure, a community of thousands battle in a racially-charged environment to save an underground subculture. At a time when our country feels painfully divided, and fly-over states often feel overlooked, the story of a community crisscrossing our nation to celebrate what unites them, is more important now than ever. Co-directed by Kauai-native Dyana Winkler, UNITED SKATES is a heart-thumping, beat-pumping and liberating look at the fight to keep the roller rink alive.

Duncan’s take: UNITED SKATES not only captures the exhilaration of skate culture, but also profoundly captures its importance to the families and communities that keep it alive. Fast-paced and driven by awesome music, UNITED SKATES is as rousing as it is socially important.


In the grueling world of competitive sheep shearing, there is no women’s section: women and men must compete together in a physically-gruelling contest for the coveted ‘Golden Shears.’ Following five remarkable women who wool stop at nothing to prove their strength, skill and agility, SHE SHEARS proves that champions come in all sheeps and sizes.

Duncan’s take: As an Australian with roots in sheep farming, shearing plays an important part in my family’s history -- but as a 150lb city-slicking yuppy with a liberal arts degree, its realities are a little far from my own. Luckily for us, SHE SHEARS puts us at the centre of the world of competitive sheep shearing, and the seriously impressive women turning the sport on its head. Charming, fun and surprisingly inspirational.

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