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Hot Docs to open with ‘Bee Nation’ about a Sask. First Nations spelling bee

A still photo from the documentary "Bee Nation" is shown in a handout photo. A film about Saskatchewan students competing in the first province-wide First Nations Spelling Bee will help kick off this year's Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.
A still photo from the documentary "Bee Nation" is shown in a handout photo. A film about Saskatchewan students competing in the first province-wide First Nations Spelling Bee will help kick off this year's Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. Hot Docs Festival / The Canadian Press

A film about Saskatchewan students competing in the first province-wide First Nations Spelling Bee will help kick off this year’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

Organizers said Bee Nation will be the opening-night film for the Toronto fest, which runs April 27 to May 7.

READ MORE: How the dab became the unofficial victory dance of the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Guests expected to attend the festival include famed scientist Bill Nye, who’s the subject of the doc Bill Nye: Science Guy.

A total of 230 titles from 58 countries will screen at the 24th edition of Hot Docs.

Other highlights include Becoming Bond, about the only man to play the role of James Bond just once, and House of Z, about fashion designer Zac Posen.

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READ MORE: Canadian doc on indigenous musicians wins Sundance award

Canadian-focused docs include My Enemy, My Brother, about two former enemies from the Iran-Iraq War who meet in Vancouver 25 years later.

The Road Forward is a genre-bending musical documentary that looks at developments in the 1930s that led to First Nations activism today.

In A Better Man, co-director Attiya Khan meets with her ex-boyfriend who abused her on a daily basis 22 years ago to see if he’s willing to take responsibility for his actions.

Syria is featured in several titles, including Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS, 69 Minutes Of 86 Days and A Memory in Khaki.

READ MORE: Oscar-winning White Helmets ‘not happy to do what we do,’ wants Syrian ‘massacres’ to stop

Oscar-nominated Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan will also host an onstage discussion with acclaimed director Joe Berlinger, who will present the international premiere of Intent to Destroy, about the Armenian genocide.

The fest will also feature a 25th anniversary screening of his doc Brother’s Keeper.

Earlier this month, organizers announced the festival has added a $50,000 Rogers Audience Award for best Canadian feature-length film.

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The director of the winning doc will receive the prize on the final night of the festival before a special encore screening.