Matthew Walker’s I’m Wanita will make its world premiere at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival next month.
The film, which follows Australia’s self-crowned “Queen of Honky Tonk” Wanita Bahtiyar, will screen as part of the Artscapes strand – a program that features work exploring creativity in the performing and visual arts.
Other Australian films set for the festival this year include Sally Aitken’s Playing with Sharks, to screen as a special presentation; Nays Baghai’s Documentary Australia Foundation Award-winning Descent, to make its North American premiere as part of the World Showcase; and Nel Minchin and Wayne Blair’s Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra, also in the Artscapes strand.
Aitken and producer Bettina Dalton will also appear in a Q&A together with the subject of their film, marine conservationist and photographer Valerie Taylor.
Two Aussie shorts have also been accepted into the festival: Sophie Raymond’s Recorder Queen, for the Artscapes strand, and Matthew Bate and Case Jernigan’s animation A Game of Three Halves: Where the F%*ck is Hamish? , to screen as part of Systems Down, dedicated to films that challenge the status quo.
This year’s Hot Docs will run online, with a slate of 219 films from 66 countries, and 50 per cent of the directors in the program women.
I’m Wanita is Walker’s debut feature, produced by Carolina Sorensen, Clare Lewis and Tait Brady with support from Screen Australia, Screen NSW and the ABC.
Filmed over five years, I’m Wanita follows Bahtiyar “a little known but unforgettable country music singer”, from Tamworth to Sun Studio in Memphis, the birthplace of rock’n’roll, through to the streets and studios of New Orleans, and finally country music’s hallowed ground: Nashville, Tennessee.
A theatrical release is planned for later this year, via Label Distribution, before airing on the ABC.
Of the film’s inclusion at Hot Docs, Sorensen said: “Wanita and her unique story have been overlooked up to this point, but we are thrilled that Hot Docs, with its ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, is giving this film and woman the platform they deserve.”
Hot Docs runs April 29 to May 9.