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Film still from Someone Lives Here
Festival News

Hot Docs Wraps 2023 Edition; $208K Awarded to Festival Films & Pitch Projects

Hot Docs Festival 2023 came to its close last night, bringing 214 films from 72 countries to audiences in Toronto cinemas. The 11-day festival featured 308 live screenings on nine screens at four venues across the city, with 235 live filmmaker Q&As, and five special extended discussions with filmmakers and special guests as part of the Big Ideas Series, presented by Scotia Wealth Management. In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Hot Docs presented the Hot Docs Podcast Festival Showcase, featuring a slate of today’s hottest podcasts live on stage, A Wall Is a Screen site-specific outdoor screening at Ontario Place, and a series of special activations for attendees throughout the Festival. Further building on national audiences cultivated by past online and hybrid editions, 123 official selections started streaming across Canada on Friday, May 5 and will continue through to Tuesday, May 9.

"As the curtain closes on a highly successful 30th anniversary edition of Hot Docs Festival, we are reminded once again of the power and impact of documentary—not only in reflecting our world, but also in building community, creating connection and challenging us to play our part in making this world a better place," shared Shane Smith, Hot Docs Artistic Director. "We are humbled by the emphatic reception we received from our famously curious Toronto audiences, whose energy, engagement and enthusiasm are always a Festival highlight for filmmakers, and who continue to inspire our mission to showcase outstanding, outspoken documentaries. Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to the volunteers, filmmakers, industry delegates, sponsors and partners who helped us bring Hot Docs 2023 to life."

The Rogers Audience Award for Best Canadian Documentary, which recognizes the top Canadian feature as determined by audience poll with a cash prize of CAD 50,000, was announced last night at a free encore screening at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Someone Lives Here (D: Zack Russell | P: Matt King, Andrew Ferguson | Canada)—the story of a young Toronto carpenter building life-saving shelters for unhoused people facing the winter outside during the pandemic, while also facing staunch opposition from the city government—received the prize, courtesy of Rogers Group of Funds.

Someone Lives Here is available to stream until midnight on May 9. Watch now >>

With CAD 80,000 in cash and prizes announced at the Hot Docs Awards Presentation on Saturday, May 6, and CAD 78,000 in pitch prizes awarded at the close of Hot Docs Forum on Wednesday, May 3, this year the Festival awarded a total of CAD 208,000 in cash and prizes to filmmakers.

Hot Docs Audience Awards are determined by votes submitted by Festival audiences after in-person screenings. At the close of the Festival, it was determined that Lac-Mégantic – This is Not an Accident (D: Philippe Falardeau | P: Annie Sirois | Canada)—a captivating four-part series from Oscar-nominated director Philippe Falardeau that exposes the scandalous causes of one of Canada’s worst rail disasters and the urgent changes needed to prevent the next one—placed first in the overall audience poll and won the Hot Docs Audience Award.

The top mid-length film in the audience poll, winning the Audience Award for Mid-Length Documentary, was When Spring Came to Bucha (D: Mila Teshaieva, Marcus Lenz | P: Marcus Lenz | Ukraine, Germany), in which cameras quietly capture the resilience of a people who will not be broken. The top short film, winning the Audience Award for Short Documentary, was Eco-Hack! (D: Josh Izenberg, Brett Marty | P: Josh Izenberg, Brett Marty | USA), capturing conservation biologist Tim Shield’s fight to protect desert tortoise populations from ravens.

Both When Spring Came to Bucha and Eco-Hack!, along with several of the top 20 audience favourites, are available to stream until midnight on May 9.
  1. Lac-Mégantic – This Is Not an Accident
  2. Someone Lives Here - streaming until May 9
  3. 20 Days in Mariupol - streaming until May 9
  4. The American Gladiators Documentary - streaming until May 9
  5. Silent House - streaming until May 9
  6. Allihopa: The Dalkurd Story - streaming until May 9
  7. Non-Aligned: Scenes from the Labudović Reels
  8. The Stroll
  9. Angel Applicant - streaming until May 9
  10. Who's Afraid of Nathan Law?
  11. Against the Tide
  12. Seven Winters in Tehran
  13. Eco-Hack! - streaming until May 9
  14. Name Me Lawand
  15. We Will Not Fade Away
  16. The Deepest Breath
  17. Hong Kong Mixtape - streaming until May 9
  18. El Equipo - streaming until May 9
  19. When Spring Came to Bucha - streaming until May 9
  20. Invisible Beauty

Top Films by Program
Hot Docs' incredibly popular Docs For School program also ran during the Festival, offering teachers across Canada free access to 16 films, including eight official selections from this year’s Festival, and accompanying teaching resources linked to curriculum. 

The Scotiabank Docs For Schools Student Choice Award went to Invisible Beauty (D: Bethann Hardison, Frédéric Tcheng | P: Lisa Cortés, Paul Dallas | USA | 2023 | 115 min | Canadian Premiere), pioneering Black model Bethann Hardison’s exploration of racial diversity in the fashion world. The award is given to the Festival film in the Docs For Schools education program that receives the highest rating as determined by a student poll and comes with a $5,000 cash prize, courtesy of Scotiabank.

Hot Docs also presented its annual market and conference, welcoming 1,800 delegates from more than 40 countries. The Hot Docs Industry program featured four days of knowledge sessions and networking events including Hot Docs Forum and Hot Docs Deal Maker, along with additional industry content.

On May 3, Hot Docs announce the winners of over CAD 78,000 at the 2023 edition of the Hot Docs Forum, the Festival’s acclaimed international co-financing market event, and the flagship industry event, including CAD 65,000 in first look Pitch Prizes, the CAD 10,000 CMF-Hot Docs Forum Canadian Pitch Prize, and CAD 3,000+ as well as goods and services donated by a room of observers in the Cuban Hat Award. The 2023 Hot Docs Forum was generously supported by Presenting Forum Sponsor the Directors Guild of Canada. Learn more >>

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