Hot Docs 2014: To Be Takei (Jennifer Kroot & Bill Weber)

2014_hotdocs_stock_imageI was lucky enough to catch a screening of this film last night at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, if you missed it, please find time to see it today at 6 at the same location!

This is hands down my favorite film of the festival to date.

And I can’t be the only one that feels that way, as the theatre was packed, and when I got there the line literally went around the block! It was also met with a brilliant round of applause and a standing ovation with the filmmakers and their subjects took the stage for a chat afterwards.

George Takei, best known as Hikaru Sulu from the original Star Trek series and films, is the film’s center alongside his husband, Brad, and we are given an unprecedented look at the life and times of a man who became an sci-fi icon, then an activist for LGBT rights and eclipsed all of it by being a wonderful human being.

Despite the joviality and positive energy that radiates from this man, his life has been anything but easy. Suffering a great insult at the hands of his government, he and his family, along with other Asian-Americans, were rounded up and placed in internment camps during the course of the second world war, simply because of their appearance and ancestry.

He struggled in the predominantly white realm of Hollywood, compromising and taking demeaning roles before Gene Roddenberry made him part of a multi-cultural crew in an optimistic future. At its core, the series has a central belief, known as IDIC, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations – a beautiful vision of the future, and one many of us still strive for.

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But even as Star Trek was pushing boundaries and dealing with relevant daily issues, Takei was forced, in order to preserve his career, to maintain the image of heterosexuality.

When Trek ends, and he finally reveals his true orientation, he is thrust into a whole new world, one of social media, and activism that sees him on the vanguard for civil rights for all, not just select groups.

He is also driven, by his experiences, and his love of his parents to create a musical, Allegiance, to share the history of the internment camps in America. A theme that is still relevant, as a whole new group is being ostracized and condemned simply for their orientation.

He tackles all of it with a razor-sharp sense of humor, one that is shared with Brad, who ably balances the role of husband and manager. Both of them are open and honest with each other, and the camera at all times, and their three decade long relationship is one built on love and trust, and is something to be envied no matter what your orientation.

Kroot and Weber have crafted a brilliant film, weaving all the threads of Takei’s life into a tapestry of humanity, an example of a fantastic human being who believes in challenges, equality and joy.

As such, he continues to boldly go…

Check it out!!!

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