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Garvia Bailey hosting awards presentation
Photo by David Spowart

Films in competition include Canadian Spectrum and International Spectrum selections, as well as short and mid-length works.

Academy Awards® Qualifying Festival
Hot Docs is recognized as a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards® in the Documentary Feature and Documentary Short Subject categories.

The winners of Hot Docs’ Best International Feature Documentary Award and the Hot Docs Feature Audience Award qualify for consideration for the Oscar for Documentary Feature, and the winner of Hot Docs’ Best Canadian and International Short Documentary Awards qualify for consideration for the Oscar for Documentary Short Subject without standard theatrical runs, provided the films otherwise comply with the Academy rules.

Hot Docs 2023 Awards

At the 2023 Hot Docs Festival, over $140,000 in cash and prizes were awarded to filmmakers, including juried awards for films in competition, audience awards determined by ballot, industry prizes recognizing top pitches at the Hot Docs Forum and other special awards categories.

All awards for films in competition are decided by Hot Docs Festival Juries and were announced at the Hot Docs Awards Presentation on the morning of Saturday, May 6.

Unless otherwise noted, all prizes are awarded to the director of the winning film.

Films in Competition

Awarded to an exceptional feature-length documentary in the International Spectrum program. Hot Docs is pleased to present the winner with a $10,000 cash prize.

  • 2023 award winner: The Mountains (D: Christian Einshøj | P: Mathilde Hvid Lippmann | Denmark | 2023)
  • Honourable mention: A Wolfpack Named Ernesto (D: Everardo González | P: Roberto Garza, Inna Payán, Jean-Christophe Simon | Mexico, France | 2023)

Awarded to an exceptional feature-length documentary in the Canadian Spectrum program. Hot Docs is pleased to present the winner with a $10,000 cash prize.  Sponsored by DOC and Telefilm Canada.

  • 2023 award winner: I Lost My Mom (D: Denys Desjardins | P: Denys Desjardins | Canada | 2022)

Awarded to a feature-length documentary in the International Spectrum program that the jury feels is deserving of special recognition. Hot Docs is pleased to present the winner with a $5,000 cash prize.  Sponsored by A&E.

  • 2023 award winner: Name Me Lawand (D: Edward Lovelace | P: Fleur Nieddu, Sam Arnold, Beyan Taher, Neil Andrews, Marisa Clifford | UK | 2022)

Awarded to a feature-length documentary in the Canadian Spectrum program that the jury feels is deserving of special recognition. The award, supported by DGC National and DGC Ontario, comes with a $5,000 cash prize. Sponsored by DGC National and DGC Ontario.

  • 2023 award winner: Caiti Blues (D: Justine Harbonnier | P: Nellie Carrier, Julie Paratian | Canada, France | 2023)

Given to a first or second-time international filmmaker with a feature film in the International Spectrum program. The award, supported by the Donner Canadian Foundation, includes a $3,000 cash prize.

  • 2023 award winner: Christian Einshøj of The Mountains (D: Christian Einshøj | P: Mathilde Hvid Lippmann | Denmark | 2023)

Given to a first- or second-time Canadian filmmaker with a feature film in the Canadian Spectrum program. The award, supported by the Earl A. Glick Family, includes a $3,000 cash prize.

  • 2023 award winner: Dominique Chaumont for Veranada (D: Dominique Chaumont | P: Dominique Chaumont | Canada, Argentina | 2022)

Awarded to an exceptional documentary between 41 and 65 minutes in length. Hot Docs is pleased to present the winner with a $3,000 cash prize. Sponsored by British Pathé.

  • 2023 award winner: Being in a Place – A Portrait of Margaret Tait (D: Luke Fowler | P: Luke Fowler, Sarah Neely | UK | 2022)
  • Honourable mention: Scala (D: Ananta Thitanat | P: Abhichon Rattanabhayon, Nontawat Numbenchapol | Thailand | 2022)

Awarded to an exceptional international documentary up to 40 minutes in length. Hot Docs is pleased to present the winner with a $3,000 cash prize.

  • 2023 award winner: Mrs. Iran’s Husband (D: Marjan Khosravi | P: Milad Khosravi | Iran | 2023)
  • Honourable mention: Dear Ani (D: Micah Levin | P: Micah Levin | USA | 2022)

This new Award recognizes the producers of a film in the Canadian Spectrum program that has the greatest potential to create social impact, in other words to change attitudes, behaviours and/or policy. The $10,000 cash prize accompanying the award will help enable the winning film team to optimize the impact of the documentary through outreach and marketing activities.

  • 2023 award winners: Matt King and Andrew Ferguson of Someone Lives Here (D: Zack Russell | P: Matt King, Andrew Ferguson | Canada | 2022)

This new Award presents $5,000 to a Canadian Spectrum feature-length documentary of courage and compassion that embodies masterful and audacious storytelling, meticulous observation, and a profound trust between the director and the people who share their stories.

  • 2023 award winner: Silvicola (D: Jean-Philippe Marquis | P: Jean-Philippe Marquis | Canada | 2023)

Awarded to an exceptional Canadian documentary up to 40 minutes in length. Hot Docs is pleased to present the winner with a $3,000 cash prize courtesy of John and Betty Youson. Supported by John and Betty Youson.

  • Last Respects (D: Megan Durnford | P: Megan Durnford | Canada | 2023)

Special Awards Categories

The Don Haig Award is awarded annually to an outstanding Canadian independent producer with a film in the Festival. The Award recognizes creative vision and entrepreneurship as reflected in the work being showcased at Hot Docs, as well as a track record for nurturing emerging Canadian filmmakers. The winner receives a $5,000 cash prize courtesy of the Don Haig Foundation.

  • 2023 award winner: Bonnie Thompson of Echo of Everything (D: Cam Christiansen | P: Bonnie Thompson | Canada | 2022)

View past recipients >>

This Award honours an emerging Canadian filmmaker working in the spirit of Lindalee Tracey, whose films reflect a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice and "a joie de vivre." The winner is awarded $5,000 in cash from the Lindalee Tracey Fund, a $5,000 in kind voucher from Sim for camera equipment rentals, and a beautiful hand-blown glass sculpture by Andrew Kuntz.

  • 2023 award winner: Gaëlle Graton

Audience Awards

Hot Docs Audience Awards are determined by votes submitted by Festival audiences after in-person screenings.

  • 2023 award winner: Lac-Mégantic – This is Not an Accident (D: Philippe Falardeau | P: Annie Sirois | Canada)
  • 2023 top mid-length film: When Spring Came to Bucha (D: Mila Teshaieva, Marcus Lenz | P: Marcus Lenz | Ukraine, Germany)
  • 2023 top short film: Eco-Hack! (D: Josh Izenberg, Brett Marty | P: Josh Izenberg, Brett Marty | USA)

Awarded to the top Canadian feature documentary in an audience poll. The winner receives a $50,000 cash prize courtesy of Rogers Group of Funds, announced at a special encore screening on the Festival's final night.
  • 2023 award winner:  Someone Lives Here (D: Zack Russell | P: Matt King, Andrew Ferguson | Canada)

Awarded to the documentary that receives the highest rating in the student audience poll. Announced at the end of the Docs for Schools program. The winner receives a $5,000 cash prize courtesy of Scotiabank.
  • 2023 award winner: Invisible Beauty (D: Bethann Hardison, Frédéric Tcheng | P: Lisa Cortés, Paul Dallas | USA | 2023)

Program Awards

Presented by the Hot Docs Board of Directors to Christine Choy.

Selected by the Hot Docs Board of Directors and supported by K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation.

Industry Pitch Prizes

The CMF-Hot Docs Forum Canadian Pitch Prize, presented in partnership with Canada Media Fund, is a $10,000 cash prize that is awarded to the best Canadian pitch at the Hot Docs Forum. The prize money is intended to go towards the production and completion of the winning project.

  • Intercepted (D: Oksana Karpovych | P: Giacomo Nudi, Rocío Barba Fuentes, Pauline Tran Van Lieu, Lucie Rego, Darya Bassel | Les Films Cosmos Inc. (Canada), Hutong Production (France), MoonMan (Ukraine))

HOT DOCS first look
Hot Docs first look is a curated access program for philanthropic supporters of and investors in documentary film that grants behind-the-scenes access to the world of documentary. Hot Docs first look participants award the Hot Docs first look prize to up to three of the best pitches. first look prize amount is announced after Festival.

  • 1st prize of $50,000: I of the Water (D: Kimberlee Bassford | P: Kimberlee Bassford, Marilyn McFadyen, Vilsoni Hereniko, Leanne K. Ferrer, Cheryl Hirasa, Linda Goldstein Knowlton | Making Waves Films LLC (USA))
  • 2nd prize of $15,000 was awarded to The Sandbox (D: Kenya-Jade Pinto | P: Shasha Nakhai, Kenya-Jade Pinto, Jennifer Baichwal, Rich Williamson | Compy Films Inc. (Canada))


Providing “real cash, no strings attached” support for powerful and unique films, the winner of the Cuban Hat Award receives money raised during the Hot Docs Forum. The winner is determined by observer ballot. 

  • The Sandbox (D: Kenya-Jade Pinto | P: Shasha Nakhai, Kenya-Jade Pinto, Jennifer Baichwal, Rich Williamson | Compy Films Inc. (Canada))

Established in 2009 in an impromptu display of collegial support, the Cuban Hat Award is decided by ballots collected from Hot Docs Forum Observers, and the cash prize is raised by passing the hat. This year’s collection brought in CAD 1,055.75, USD 377, € 27, MXN 5.00, 5 Egyptian Pounds, and a handful of other currencies including: British Pounds, Polish Zloty, Kenyan Shilling, Ugandan Shilling, Bosnia-Herzegovina Convertible Mark, Chilean Peso, Swedish Krona, Georgian Lari, Icelandic Króna, Indian Rupiah, Bulgarian Lev, and Iranian Rial. Hot Docs will match the total CAD and USD prize with the amount of CAD 1,500, bringing the total amount to CAD 3,110.57. The prize also included two All-Access Passes to Hot Docs 2024, two All-Access Passes to CPH:DOX, one IDFA Forum Pass, and a dinner with Hot Docs' new president Marie Nelson.

Canadian Features Jury

  • Shane Belcourt
    Headshot for Shane Belcourt
    Shane Belcourt is a three-time CSA-nominated Director, with award-winning narrative and documentary works in both film and TV. He has directed two narrative feature films, TKARONTO (which was showcased in both the TIFF Indigenous Cinema Retrospective and the UCLA Film & Television Archive traveling exhibition, “Through Indian Eyes: Native American Cinema”) and RED ROVER (premiered at the Whistler Film Festival and can be found on Amazon Prime). In documentary, Shane directed KAHA:WI, which won a CSC award for Best Cinematography in 2016, along with a CSA Best Director nomination. As well, Shane co-directed (with Lisa Jackson) the CBC one-hour INDICTMENT: THE CRIMES OF SHELLY CHARTIER which won Best Doc at imagineNATIVE. Shane created AMPLIFYa 13-part music documentary series which airs on APTN. Recently, Shane directed the feature documentary BEAUTIFUL SCARS, about internationally acclaimed songwriter Tom Wilson which will air on TVO this fall. He is also in post-production on his third narrative feature film, WARRIOR STRONG, set for release late 2023. Finally, Shane is set to direct the feature documentary NADAAMAAIS for CBC films in the fall of 2024 which is based around the 1974 Anicinabe Park Occupation (to be written by Tanya Talaga).
  • Rodolfo Castillo-Morales

    Headshot for Rodolfo Castillo-Morales
    Rodolfo Castillo-Morales is a Mexican filmmaker, programmer and curator, specialised in contemporary documentary cinema. As a filmmaker, he has participated in over 10 documentary and fiction short films as screenwriter, director, producer, director of cinematography and editor. He has worked in unitary, series and documentary films for La Maroma Producciones, and in co-productions with broadcasters such as Televisión Española, Canal 3 Catalunya, Canal 22 México, Once TV México, SRT México and NHK Japan.

    He was responsible for the programme coordination and curation of DocsMX, and was also the co-designer of Plataforma MX, a development programme and workshop for Mexican filmmakers, and a general coordinator of DocsLab from DocsMX.

    In 2018, he took over the General Coordination of DocuLab: Documentary laboratory in Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG) and in 2019 he was named Documentary Programming Director at FICG and the FICG Cinematheque, organizing and curating the main competitive and non-competitive programs of both short and feature documentary films, as well as the day-by-day documentary programme in the Cinematheque.

    He is currently working in the post production of his third feature film and filming his fourth feature film as director, DoP and editor, co-writing a docu-series and producing a feature documentary film from artist-filmmaker César Aréchiga.

  • Margje de Koning
    Headshot for Margje de Koning

    After finishing her studies, Margje de Koning directed documentaries for various broadcasting companies for 12 years. Margje was also a teacher for documentaries at the University of Amsterdam.
    In August 2004, Margje became the Commissioning Editor for a documentary slot of 52’ docs. This meant producing and co-producing creative single 52'-documentaries on contemporary social, social-cultural and moral issues with a strong human interest angle. The focus is on Dutch subjects but surely also on subjects from all over the world.
    Since January 2005, Margje de Koning has been responsible for the Television Department of IKON and in January 2012, she became Head of TV, Radio and New Media programming at IKON. From January 2016, IKON has been incorporated within EO with Margje de Koning as Head of Documentaries for EOdocs. In September 2019, she left the public broadcaster in order to become the new artistic director of the film festival Movies that Matter.

International Features Jury

  • Ina Fichman

    Oscar, BAFTA and Emmy nominated producer Ina Fichman, Intuitive Pictures, has been producing award-winning documentary and fiction films, and interactive projects for close to 30 years. Many of her creative documentaries have been released in theatres in Canada and abroad, and have played at festivals including Sundance, Berlin, Hot Docs, Locarno, Karlovy Vary, RIDM, CPH:DOX, Venice, SXSW, Tribeca, TIFF and others. Ina recently produced the acclaimed documentary FIRE OF LOVE, which had its world premiere at Sundance 2022 where it was sold to National Geographic Documentary Films and subsequently released by Neon in the US, Dogwoof in the UK and MK2 in the rest of the world. Other films include STRAY, THE GIG IS UP, ONCE UPON A SEA, BLUE BOX, THE OSLO DIARIES, INSIDE LEHMAN BROTHERS, GIFT and LAILA AT THE BRIDGE. Award-winning productions also include Amer Shomali’s THE WANTED 18MONSOON (Canada’s Top 10) and VITA ACTIVA: THE SPIRIT OF HANNAH ARENDT.

    In 2018, Ina was the recipient of the Don Haig Award from Hot Docs which recognizes the work of a Canadian independent producer. She is currently chair of the national board of the Documentary Association of Canada, sits on the board of the Quebec chapter of DOC, is on the board of Hot Docs, the IDA, is one of the chairs of the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA) and co-chairs the International Committee of  the Canadian producers association, CMPA. For seven years, Ina sat on the board of the CMPA where she chaired the Documentary Committee. She is one of the founding board members of Montreal Women in Film (FCTNM) and Women in Film and Television International (WIFTI). Ina is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

  • Addie Morfoot
    Headshot for Addie Morfoot
    Addie Morfoot has been covering the entertainment industry for the last 19 years. She currently serves as head of editorial coverage for Variety's Docs section. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Crain's New York Business, Documentary Magazine and Adweek. Her personal essays have been published in The New York Times, Marie Claire, Salon, Cosmopolitan, Brain, Child, and The LA Times.
  • Sudeep Sharma
    Headshot for Sudeep Sharma
    Sudeep Sharma is a Programmer for the Sundance Film Festival focusing on documentary feature films. Having started at Sundance in 2008 as a screener of international documentary features for the festival and a reader for the labs, he has previously been an Associate Programmer, Documentaries and Shorts Programmer for the festival. He is also Director of Programming for the Palm Spring International ShortFest where he has programmed since 2014 and served as Interim Artistic Director for the 2022 edition. Sudeep has worked in programming at many festivals including the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, Aspen ShortsFest, LA Film Festiv Sudeep Nov 2020 edit al, AFI Fest, and was Director of Public Programming for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science. He has advised on funding and granting boards and served on numerous film festival juries including at the Toronto International Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Dokufest and others. A native of New Jersey, Sudeep has a Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies from UCLA. He has taught film and television history, industry and criticism courses at universities throughout Southern California.

Midlengths Jury

  • Amir George
    Headshot for Amir George
    Amir George is an award-winning filmmaker and Artistic Director of Kartemquin Films. As an artist, George creates spiritual stories, juxtaposing sound and image into an experience of non-linear perception. George’s films have screened at institutions and film festivals including Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, Anthology Film Archives, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, BlackStar Film Festival, and Camden International Film Festival, among others.
  • Iris Ng
    Headshot for Iris Ng
    Iris Ng is a cinematographer whose most notable work turns a critical lens on social issues, justice, and filmmaking itself. Her body of work includes the Academy-shortlisted documentaries Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 2012) and Shirkers (Sandi Tan, 2018), as well as the award-winning films, A Better Man (2017), This River (CDN Screen Award 2017), Migrant Dreams (Canadian Hillman Prize for Journalism, 2017), Toxic Beauty (Int'l Emmy Award Nominee 2021), and Primetime Emmy Award-winning series Making A Murderer (2015 & 2018). She has also collaborated with filmmakers Fredrik Gertten, Vikram Jayanti, Richard Fung, Phillis Ellis and artists Chris Curreri, Oliver Husain, Luis Jacob, and Bambitchell. Iris shares a credit on the Sundance 2023-premiered Twice Colonized, and has shot Netflix's new release, Money Shot: The PornHub Story. She also balances her work in the scripted realm, having lensed two seasons of the CBC primetime scripted series Strays as well as numerous short films.
  • Lina Rodriguez
    Headshot for Lina Rodriguez
    Lina Rodriguez is a Colombian-Canadian filmmaker. She has written, directed, and produced six short films (Convergences et rencontres, Pont du Carrousel, Einschnitte, Protocol, ante mis ojos, Aquí y allá) and four features (Señoritas, Mañana a esta hora, Mis dos voces and So Much Tenderness), which have been showcased in festivals and cultural venues including the Berlinale, TIFF, Locarno, NYFF, the Mar del Plata International Film Festival, the Harvard Film Archive, the ICA in London, Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, Film at Lincoln Center, and Tabakalera Centro Internacional de Cultura Contemporánea. She has had retrospectives of her work screened at Sala Leopoldo Lugones in Buenos Aires, Cineteca Madrid, and Cinemateca de Bogotá.

Shorts Jury

  • Anna Bressanin
    Headshot for Anna Bressanin
    Anna Bressanin is the US Editor of BBC Reel, the BBC's platform for short documentary. Based in New York, Anna currently leads a team of journalists who commission, curate and produce short documentaries and digital videos for the BBC. In 2020, Anna created LongShots, the BBC's first documentary film festival, showcasing new filmmakers, handpicked by curators of the most prestigious film festivals around the world. LongShots was defined as a ‘bold’ and necessary initiative by the New Yorker and is now at its fourth edition. As a filmmaker herself, Anna has directed multiple award-winning documentaries, created the first BBC VR film in India, and covered major US and global news. Born in Italy, Anna worked in Germany, France, and Belgium before moving to the US.
  • Inti Cordera
    Headshot for Inti Cordera
    Inti Cordera is a documentary film director and producer, born in 1969. In 1995, Inti founded LA MAROMA productions and in 2006, the DocsMX festival. During more than 25 years as a director and producer, he has carried out numerous projects of documentary films, series and TV programs that have been selected and awarded at renowned festivals in Mexico, Latin America, North America and Europe. He has also participated as a jury in festivals and project evaluation committees, as well as in workshops, analysis forums and work groups in more than 15 countries. Since 2011, Inti is also a founding member of the Mexican Network of Film Festivals A.C.
  • Inga Diev
    Headshot for Inga Diev
    Inga Diev serves as the General Manager of Ouat Media, a Toronto-based short film distribution and sales company. In her role, Inga is responsible for the company’s business operations and oversees all the film sales and acquisitions.

    Ouat Media is one of the world’s primary destinations for work by the industry’s rising stars. The company boasts an award-winning catalogue of titles featuring 12 Oscar nominees including three Oscar winners to date. Ouat Media's network of licensing partners spans across multiple continents and media, and includes global platforms and broadcasters such as Netflix, HBO, Canal+, BBC, PBS, ESPN, Al Jazeera, Condé Nast Entertainment, The Criterion Channel, Kanopy and, most recently, Tencent Video, the highest grossing entertainment app in China. A wholly owned subsidiary of the independent Canadian media group Channel Zero, Ouat Media is celebrating its 17th anniversary this year.

    As a recognized leader in her field and a sought-after mentor to emerging talent in the industry, Inga continuously shares her expertise by leading workshops, moderating and participating in guest panels, and serving on film festival and awards juries internationally and locally.

    Prior to joining Ouat Media, Inga spent over a decade working in film production and broadcast programming, most recently at Sundance Channel Canada. For six years, Inga served on the Board of Canadian Filmmakers’ Distribution Centre (CFMDC), Canada's leading not-for-profit, non-commercial distributor and resource for independently produced film.

    Inga is an alumna of York University and University of Oxford.

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