Hot Docs 2019 Award Winners Announced

At the Hot Docs Awards Presentation, hosted by Garvia Bailey, co-founder and host/producer of, 14 awards and $75,000 in cash and prizes were presented to Canadian and international filmmakers, including awards for Festival films in competition and those recognizing emerging and established filmmakers.

The Rogers Audience Award for Best Canadian Documentary will be announced on the final night of the Festival, Sunday, May 5, at 7:00 p.m. at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema before a free encore screening of the winning film. Generously established by the Rogers Group of Funds and determined by audience ballot, the award comes with a $50,000 cash prize.

Other Hot Docs Audience Awards and the top 20 favourite audience films of the 2019 Festival, determined by audience ballot, will be announced on Tuesday, May 7.

Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award
nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (D: Tasha Hubbard; P: Bonnie Thompson, Tasha Hubbard, George Hupka, Jon Montes; Canada)
Sponsored by the Documentary Organization of Canada and Telefilm Canada, the award includes a $10,000 cash prize.
Screening Saturday, May 4, at 10:00 a.m. at the Isabel Bader Theatre.

Jury statement: “This filmmaker has created a lasting document that brings together past and future to illuminate oppression and resilience. As an investigation of a specific injustice, the film leaves no stone unturned while infusing the narrative with a deeply felt, creatively authentic point of view.”

DGC Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature Documentary
Prey (D: Matt Gallagher; P: Cornelia Principe, Matt Gallagher, Nick Hector (co-producer); Canada)
Sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada and DGC Ontario, the award includes a $5,000 cash prize.

Jury statement: “This prize goes to a film with extraordinary access and a masterful edit, which was deliberate and exacting. The filmmaker had us in their grip from the first moment, leaving us with a heightened understanding of the lasting damage on innocent lives that can never be atoned for.”

In the DGC Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature Documentary category, the jury also acknowledged River Silence (D: Rogério Soares; P: Bob Moore, Annette Clarke; Canada) with an honourable mention.

Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award
Emily Gan for Cavebirds
Given to a first or second-time Canadian filmmaker with a feature film in the Canadian Spectrum program. Sponsored by Vistek, the award includes a $3,000 cash prize.

Jury statement: “The emerging filmmaker prize goes to a film that demonstrates a profound connectivity with a long tradition of diasporic cinema. This film is a quiet personal reflection on the complexities of migration and belonging, told through poetic details and poignant autobiographical reflection.”

Best International Feature Documentary Award
Hope Frozen (D&P: Pailin Wedel; Thailand)
Supported by the Panicaro Foundation, the award includes a $10,000 cash prize courtesy of the Panicaro Foundation.

Jury statement: “For taking us into the ethically complex and existentially challenging dilemma of grief as experienced by a family of scientists, the award for Best International Feature Documentary goes to a story that disarms our preconceptions and embodies grace.”

Hot Docs has been selected as an Academy Award® qualifying festival for feature documentaries. As the winner of the Best International Feature Documentary Award, Hope Frozen will qualify for consideration in the Best Documentary Feature category of the Annual Academy Awards® without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules.

Special Jury Prize – International Feature Documentary
For Sama (D: Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts; P: Waad al-Kateab; UK, USA, Syria)
Sponsored by A&E, the award includes a $5,000 cash prize.
Screening Sunday, May 5, at 12:45 p.m. at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Jury statement: “For its unflinching lens on the horrors of war, accompanied by a tender portrait of a young family born out of conflict, and the courageous community that surrounds them, the Special Jury Prize goes to For Sama.”

Emerging International Filmmaker Award
Nuno Escudeiro for The Valley (Italy, France)
Given to a first or second-time international filmmaker with a feature film in the International Spectrum program. The award includes a $3,000 cash prize courtesy of Hot Docs.
Screening Saturday, May 4, at 3:15 p.m. at the Hart House Theatre.

Jury statement: “For its refreshing and clear-eyed portrayal of a small French community responding to an urgent humanitarian crisis at its doorstep with humility and generosity, often risking arrest for their championing of simple human rights, the award for Emerging International Filmmaker goes to Nuno Escudeiro for The Valley.”

Best Mid-Length Documentary Award
Symphony of the Ursus Factory (D: Jaśmina Wójcik; P: Wojciech Marczewski, Zuzanna Król; Poland)
The award includes a $3,000 cash prize.

Jury statement: “Coming to a decision was effortless and unanimous. We award this prize to an arresting and innovative documentary. We the jury were transfixed by its outstanding direction which allowed subjects to explore their pasts in a unique and sincere manner. In this film we explore the ruins of industry through a dynamic soundscape and rhythmic montage which brought neglected spaces back to life.”

Best International Short Documentary Award
Call Confession (D: Arturo Aguilar; P: Jimena Tormo; Spain, Mexico)
The award includes a $3,000.

Jury statement: “This film enables the audience to experience a mystery unfold in real time. Using found footage to craft a dark, compelling tale, the jury was impressed with the filmmaker’s point of view which shone through. The story propels us into an immersive and surprising journey. This documentary reminds us that truth is often stranger than fiction.”

In the Best International Short Documentary category, the jury also acknowledged A 3 Minute Hug (D: Everardo González; P: Daniela Alatorre, Elena Fortes; Mexico) with an honourable mention.

Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary
Kora: A Circle Life (D: Tenzin Sedon; P: Ming Liu, Tenzin Sedon; China, Canada, USA)
The award includes a $3,000 cash prize courtesy of John and Betty Youson.

Jury statement: “A beautiful observational invitation into a world we rarely get to see. It discovers a profound statement within a simple life. A meditative ode to one man’s daily routine, it highlights the contrast and the universality of this story. Underneath the quiet of the film are complicated layers of history, politics and contradiction.”

In the Best Canadian Short Documentary category, the jury also acknowledged Mothers Of (D: Ross Lai; P: Nicolas Houghton, Christian Tyler, Tamara Sulliman; Canada) with an honourable mention.

Hot Docs is an Academy Award® qualifying festival for short documentaries and, as winners, Call Confession and Kora: A Circle Life will qualify for consideration in the Documentary Short Subject category of the annual Academy Awards without the standard theatrical run, provided they comply with Academy rules.

Scotiabank Docs For Schools Student Choice Award
Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man (D: Lily Zepeda; P: Tchavdar Georgiev, Lily Zepeda, Eugene Efuni; USA)
Chosen from among ten films, the winner was determined by audience ballot cast by students attending Docs For Schools screenings at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema during the Festival. Sponsored by Scotiabank, the award comes with $5,000 cash prize, courtesy of Scotiabank.

2019 Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award
Presented by the Hot Docs Board of Directors to Julia Reichert

2019 Hot Docs Focus On Honouree
Canadian filmmaker Julia Ivanova

Lindalee Tracey Award
Andy Alvarez for her film Our Home
The Award honours an emerging Canadian filmmaker with a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice and a sense of humour. The recipient receives a $5,000 cash prize courtesy of the Lindalee Tracey Fund, $5,000 in post-production services from Technicolor, and a beautiful hand-blown glass sculpture by Andrew Kuntz, specially commissioned to honour Lindalee.

Don Haig Award
Toronto-based filmmaker, journalist, writer and activist Peter Raymont of White Pine Pictures
The award is decided upon by a jury of independent producers and comes with a $10,000 cash prize courtesy of the Don Haig Foundation and Telefilm Canada.

Don Haig Award Pay It Forward Prize
Screenwriter and director Fazila Amiri
As part of the award, the Don Haig Award recipient can name an emerging female documentary filmmaker to receive a $5,000 cash prize, courtesy of Telefilm Canada, and professional development opportunities at the Hot Docs Festival to further her career path.

The 2019 awards for films in competition were determined by four juries.

The Canadian Feature Documentary Jury: Alice Burgin (CEO/Conference Director of the Australian International Documentary Conference); Christy Garland (filmmaker); Ariel Nasr (filmmaker).

The International Feature Documentary Jury: Anita Lee (Executive Producer and Head of Studio in Toronto for the National Film Board of Canada); Jane Schoettle (former International Programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival®); Harry Vaughn (Programmer for the Sundance Film Festival specializing in US and world documentary features).

The Mid-Length Jury: Sofia Bohdanowicz (filmmaker); Shasha Nakhai (filmmaker); Jason Ryle (Artistic and Managing Director of imagineNATIVE).

The Shorts Jury: Opal Bennett (Shorts Programmer at Montclair Film Festival); Alexandra Lazarowich (producer, director and screenwriter); Amanda Parris (journalist/CBC television and radio host).

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