Friday, May 7, 2010

Awards News: Hot Docs awards

On a cold and rainy Friday night, the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival held its Awards Presentation at the Isabel Bader Theatre in downtown Toronto. 

Ten awards and over $72,000 in cash prizes were presented to local and international filmmakers, including awards for Festival films in competition and those recognizing emerging and established filmmakers. The Hot Docs Awards Presentation was hosted by Jian Ghomeshi, host of Q on CBC Radio One.

The Festival's top honour for international films in competition, the Best International Feature Award was presented to A Film Unfinished (D: Yael Hersonski; P: Noemi Schory, Itay Ken Tor; Israel), a haunting visual essay that masterfully deconstructs a now-infamous, unfinished Nazi propaganda film about Jewish life in the Warsaw Ghetto. Jury statement: "Yael Hersonski’s film is a profound exploration of the testimonial value of the cinematic image, based on found footage of a Nazi propaganda film shot in a Warsaw Ghetto. This is a film for the ages." The award includes a $10,000 prize courtesy of Hot Docs.

The Special Jury Prize - International Feature was awarded to The Oath (D: Laura Poitras; P: Laura Poitras, Nasser Arrabyee, Aliza Kaplan, Jonathan Oppenheim; USA, Yemen), a complex, mysterious portrait of Abu Jandal, a former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden. Jury statement: "Filmmaker Laura Poitras has made a daring and unique film about a complex character, Bin Laden’s driver, as well as the United States government’s case against his brother who was imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, which challenges our preconceived notions about radical Islam. The jury salutes the personal and artistic risk that the filmmaker has taken in dealing with this controversial subject matter." Sponsored by the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the award includes a $5,000 prize courtesy of Hot Docs.

The top honour for Canadian films in competition, Best Canadian Feature Award was presented to Toronto filmmaker Shelley Saywell for In The Name Of The Family (P: Shelley Saywell, Deborah Parks; Canada), a powerful and sensitive investigation into the killing of young girls in the name of family honour in North America. Jury statement: "The best Canadian feature offers an intimate take on the challenges of immigration for young people, and generational conflicts that can go terribly wrong. We were all moved by the young teenage Muslim women struggling to figure out their own identities, caught between two opposing worlds, to whom it gave voice. It is an effective and intense contribution to an important discussion that needs to be explored further, we look forward to hearing more voices of young Muslim men as well." Sponsored by the Documentary Organization of Canada, the award includes a $15,000 prize courtesy of the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation.

The Special Jury Prize - Canadian Feature was presented to Vancouver-based Academy Award-winning filmmaker John Zaritsky for Leave Them Laughing (P: Montana Berg, Canada/USA), which follows mother, performer, and darkly funny smart-ass Carla Zilbersmith in her battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. Jury statement: "The Special Jury Prize goes to a film about an unimaginably horrifying disease that draws us in rather than making us turn away. The subject is someone approaching death, but the film is about how to live. We admire it most for bringing us into an intimate relationship between a mother and son without feeling voyeuristic or manipulative."   Sponsored by the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation, the award features a $10,000 prize courtesy of the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation.

The Best Mid-Length Documentary Award was presented to I Shot My Love (D: Tomer Haymann; P: Barak Haymann, Tomer Haymann, Carl Ludwig Rettinger; Israel, Germany), an intimate portrait of two lovers, one German and one Israeli, as they confront the challenges posed by their families, their national histories, and their own emotions. Jury statement: "I Shot My Love contains beautiful use of homemade footage. The film covers many territories – geographical, religious, political, linguistic – while following a love story conceived at the Berlin Film Festival. The film focuses on the meaning of love and the universality of suffering." Sponsored by Canada Council for the Arts, the award includes a $3,000 prize courtesy of Hot Docs.
Best Short Documentary Award was presented to Tussilago (D: Jonas Odell; Sweden), the story of a young girl swept up in the high drama life of bank robberies and kidnapping plans due to her relationship with West German terrorist Norbert Krocher in 1977. Jury statement: "This is an innovative and ever-evolving use of animation to recreate a historical era. The correlation between the characters and the art form in which they are depicted reinforces the power of aesthetics."  Sponsored by Playback, the award includes a $3,000 prize courtesy of Hot Docs.

The HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award was presented to Jeff Malmberg, director of Marwencol (USA), in which Mark Hogencamp, seeking solace after a brutal beating, constructs a miniature WW II-era town in his backyard. Jury statement: "(A) beautifully-crafted film about redemption through art. Mark Hogencamp, robbed of his memory, creates a fantasy world through which he rediscovers his identity and realizes his true self." The Emerging Artist Award is sponsored by HBO Documentary Films.

The Hot Docs Board of Directors presented the 2010 Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award to celebrated UK filmmaker Kim Longinotto. A retrospective of Longinotto's work is being show as part of this year's Festival.

documentary's Don Haig Award, presented annually to an emerging Canadian documentary filmmaker, was awarded to Toronto's Philip Lyall and Vancouver's Nimisha Mukerji, the directors of Hot Docs 2009 official selection and audience top ten favourite, 65_RedRoses. Awarded by the Don Haig Foundation, the prize includes a $20,000 cash prize generously sponsored by documentary.

The Lindalee Tracey Award, which honours an emerging Canadian filmmaker with a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice and a sense of humour, was presented to 20-year-old filmmaker Ayanie Mohamed of Toronto. As part of the award, Mohamed will receive a $6,000 cash prize and $3,000 in film stock donated by Kodak Canada.

The 2010 awards were determined by three juries, each consisting of three jury members.

The Canadian features jury was made up of Alice Klein (CEO, Now Magazine); Liz Mermin (Director, Horses), and Martijn te Pas (IDFA). The international features jury was made up of Gonzalo Arijón (Director, Eyes Wide Open - Exploring Today’s South America); Sturla Gunnarsson (President of the Directors Guild of Canada), and Chris Hegedus ( Co-Director, Kings of Pastry). The short and mid-length films jury was made up of Tine Fischer (CPH:DOX); Judy Gladstone (Bravo!FACT), and Alberto Ramos Ruiz (Havana Film Festival).

The Hot Docs Audience Award and audience top ten favourite films of the 2010 Festival, determined by audience ballot, will be announced on Monday, May 10.

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