It was a record-breaking year at Hot Docs, as more than 68,000 people came to watch more than 200 screenings of 129 films. If those numbers aren’t enough, here’s another one for you: attendance was up a whopping 33 per cent from last year.
This year the festival decided to be a bit more environmentally-friendly, and had audience members using their ticket stubs as ballots for the coveted Audience Award. The winner was announced Monday afternoon. Other awards were handed off Friday evening at The Isabel Bader Theatre, where host Avi Lewis handed out $50,000 to worthy documentary filmmakers.
And the awards go to…
The Audience Award went to the film War/Dance by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine. The movie follows three children from Uganda as they enter a national dance competition amidst the terrors of the rebel militia group Lord’s Resistance Army. The documentary contrasts the horrors of children being kidnapped and forced to commit atrocities with the joy they feel when preparing for the competition. This movie also won the Documentary Directing award at this year’s Sundance film festival.
The Top Ten movies as according to audience members are:
9: Chichester’s Choice
8: Hear and Now
7: City Idol
5: Forbidden Lie$
4: The Suicide Tourist
3: Garbage Warrior
2: We Are Together
Best Canadian Feature: The Bodybuilder and I, Bryan Friedman’s emotional film about his own estranged father, who quit his job as a lawyer and devoted himself to the world of body-building.
Best Canadian Feature Documentary – Special Jury Prize: Serge Giguère’s Driven By Dreams, about five people whose ages range from 74 to 92 who refuse to settle in their old age and instead dance, paint, play in a swing band, and even start an animal sanctuary. If there were a Best Line From A Film category it would have also gone to this film, for this quote from the cantankerous 81-year-old Marc-André Péloquin: “I guarantee you that if this were your last summer, you wouldn’t be here shooting this film. You’d be in Montreal making love like crazy.”
Best International Feature Documentary: Losers And Winners by Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken. This movie is an examination of the effects of industrialization on different cultures, as we follow a smelt plant being taken apart in Germany to be re-built in China.
Best International Feature Documentary – Special Jury Prize: This one goes to Michael Skolnik’s Without The King, which looks at Africa’s last remaining absolute monarchy in Swaziland, and the brewing civil unrest.
Best Mid-Length Documentary: Canada’s Johanna Lunn took this prize for her film Forgiveness: Stories For Our Time. In this film she follows four people who have experienced extreme loss, be it through terrorism or savage murder, as they go through the healing process.
Best Short Documentary: Man Up a film by Arturo Cabanas about a man raising his son to be a soldier through harsh discipline and belittlement.
The Don Haig Award: This award goes to an emerging Canadian director whose work spans both fiction and documentary films. This year the prize went to Toronto filmmaker Hubert Davis whose documentary work includes the Academy Award nominated short Hardwood and his fiction work includes the movie Aruba.
The Lindalee Tracy Award: This award goes to an emerging Canadian filmmaker who shows passion, humour, a strong sense of social justice, and a personal point of view. This is the first year the award has been given out, and it went to Edmonton filmmaker Trevor Anderson, known for his short films Rugburn and Rock Pockets.
Movie still of War/Dance thanks to Shine Global.
Photos from The Bodybuilder And I and Forgiveness: Stories For Our Time courtesy of Hot Docs.