Monday, May 4, 2015
WELCOME TO LEITH WINS FILMMAKER-TO-FILMMAKER AWARD
Hot Docs has wrapped its 22nd edition with record-breaking audience numbers reaching an estimated 200,500. The 11-day event featured 452 public screenings of 210 films on 17 screens across Toronto, an internationally renowned conference and market for documentary professionals, and Docs For Schools, a phenomenally popular education program for youth. The Festival welcomed more than 300 guest filmmakers and subjects from across Canada and around the world to present their films and take part in special post-screening Q&A sessions with audiences. Official film selections were chosen from a total of 2724 films submitted to the Festival.
At the Festival, Hot Docs presented the third edition of the Scotiabank Big Ideas series, featuring screenings and live onstage discussions with prominent documentary subjects, including Grammy-nominated comedian Tig Notaro, charismatic former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Danny Williams, journalist Andy Greenberg, the parents of DEEP WEB subject Ross Ulbricht, Ex-Fugee Pras Michel, Olympic Gold Medal–winning hockey player Charline Labonté, former Major League Baseball player Billy Bean, and American college football player Conner Mertens. This year also saw the launch of the DOCX program, which featured a virtual reality installation of four short films and an interactive live performance launching the final chapter of the NFB’s acclaimed HIGHRISE digital documentary series.
“This year's Top 20 showcases, again, that there is a passionate appetite for diverse and smart documentary programming—and we're happy to note the list includes no shortage of outstanding director-driven Canadian docs,” says Hot Docs executive director Brett Hendrie. “Congratulations to the UNBRANDED team and indeed all the filmmakers at this year's festival, who were thrilled by Toronto's incredible audiences, who once again proved their appreciation for documentary films is unmatched.”
After the final screening yesterday, audience votes were tallied for the Vimeo On Demand Audience Award. The winner is UNBRANDED (D: Phillip Baribeau, USA), the story of four young men on an adventure of a lifetime— traversing desert to mountain, they ride over 3000 miles from Mexico to Canada on adopted wild mustangs. Second in the audience poll is LOWDOWN TRACKS (D: Shelley Saywell, Canada), which follows five transient musicians who busk for change on Toronto’s streets; and third in the audience poll is THE MESSENGER (D: Su Rynard; Canada, France), a stunning look at the songbirds' plummeting population.
The top 20 audience favourites as determined by audience vote are:
1. UNBRANDED (D: Phillip Baribeau, USA)
2. LOWDOWN TRACKS (D: Shelley Saywell, Canada)
3. THE MESSENGER (D: Su Rynard; Canada, France)
4. MY LOVE, DON’T CROSS THAT RIVER (D: Moyoung Jin, South Korea)
5. RADICAL GRACE (D: Rebecca Parrish, USA)
6. HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD (D: Jerry Rothwell; UK, Canada)
7. FRACTURED LAND (D: Damien Gillis, Fiona Rayher; Canada)
8. OMO CHILD: THE RIVER AND THE BUSH (D: John Rowe, USA)
9. WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? (D: Liz Garbus, USA)
10. FRAME BY FRAME (D: Mo Scarpelli, Alexandria Bombach; USA)
11. MAVIS! (D: Jessica Edwards; Canada, USA)
12. ATTACKING THE DEVIL: HAROLD EVANS AND THE LAST NAZI WAR CRIME (D: Jacqui Morris, David Morris; UK, Canada)
13. THE BARKLEY MARATHONS: THE RACE THAT EATS ITS YOUNG (D: Timothy Kane, Annika Iltis; USA)
14. SPEED SISTERS (D: Amber Fares; Palestine, USA, Qatar, Denmark, UK, Canada)
15. TRANSFATTY LIVES (D: Patrick O'Brien, USA)
16. TIE: MUSIC LESSONS (D: Michael Mabbott, Canada) and NO PLACE TO HIDE: THE REHTAEH PARSONS STORY (D: Rama Rau, Canada)
18. ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD (D: Suzanne Crocker, Canada)
19. SURVIVORS ROWE (D: Daniel Roher, Canada)
20. FINDING MACPHERSON (D: Serge Giguère, Canada)
Also during this year’s Hot Docs Festival, attending filmmakers with official selections in the Festival were invited to vote for their favourite film. The winner of this year’s Filmmaker-To-Filmmaker Award is WELCOME TO LEITH (D: Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walker; USA), a real-life horror story that unfolds in the near-deserted town of Leith, North Dakota, when a dangerous white supremacist attempts to buy up land in a plot to establish a community of neo-Nazis.
A full week of industry programming was attended by 2474 delegates from around the world. Hot Docs mounted a roster of five workshops, 12 conference sessions, 38 networking events and parties, three Kickstart panels for emerging filmmakers, 11 micro meetings, 16 Close Up With… sessions with broadcasters, 15 Rent-an-Expert sessions, the Doc Summit, International Co-Production Day panels, and the Hot Docs Awards Presentation. Hot Docs also hosted a record 12 official delegations from Catalonia, Chile, China, Colombia, Germany, India, Italy, the Nordic Region, Northern Ireland, South Africa, South Korea and the USA.
The Hot Docs Forum, Hot Docs’ key international co-financing market event, Hot Docs Deal Maker, Hot Docs’ one-on-one curated pitch event, and Distribution Rendezvous, Hot Docs’ tailored meeting service for completed films seeking distribution, saw brisk pitching, networking and deal-making. In total, 19 projects representing 15 countries were presented to a panel of over 300 key commissioning editors and funders at the Hot Docs Forum, and a total of 50 projects were pitched at approximately 535 meetings during Hot Docs Deal Maker.
Doc For Schools, Hot Docs’ education program that runs during the Festival and offers free in-theatre and in-school screenings of select Festival films, reached a record number of students in 2015. An estimated 87,000 students participated in the program, including schools in Toronto and throughout Ontario. Selected by student ballot from among 10 Docs For Schools selections that screened at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema during the Festival, the winner of the inaugural Docs for Schools Students’ Choice Award is T-REX (D: Zackary Canepari, Drea Cooper; USA), the story of boxing phenomenon Claressa “T-Rex” Shields.
Hot Docs (www.hotdocs.ca), North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market, presented its 22nd annual edition from April 23–May 3, 2015. An outstanding selection of 210 documentaries from Canada and around the world were presented to Toronto audiences and international delegates. Hot Docs also mounted a full roster of conference sessions and market events and services for documentary practitioners, including the renowned Hot Docs Forum, Hot Docs Deal Maker and The Doc Shop. In partnership with Blue Ice Group, Hot Docs operates the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, a century-old landmark located in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood.