Hot Docs Film Festival | Wrap Up

hotdocs 75Hot Docs just might be the best-run film festival ever.


thekillteam 500

The Kill Team 

It’s been quite a week, and although I was watching films more or less nonstop during my waking hours for the better part of eight days, I only saw a fraction (17 percent, to be precise) of the 205 documentaries screened at the 2013 Hot Docs film festival. Of the 35 feature-length documentaries that I did get to see, here are my top 5 films of the festival:

1. The Kill Team (dir. Don Krauss), a harrowing investigation into allegations that American soldiers stationed in Afghanistan were killing civilians for sport.

2. Salma (dir. Kim Longinotto), a portrait of a remarkable Indian Muslim woman who became a noted poet and politician.

3. Everybody Street (dir. Cheryl Dunn), which offers a look at some of the greatest street photographers working in New York City.

4. Dragon Girls (dir. Inigo Westmeier), an examination of the lives and dreams of three girls training at China’s famed Shaolin Tagu Kung Fu School.

5. Anita (dir. Freida Mock), an examination of the life and career of Anita Hill, including but not limited to her experiences as a witness during the 1991 confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas.

Hot Docs just might be the best-run film festival ever. In the spirit of international cooperation, here are three things Hot Docs does really well, and that other festivals might consider adopting:

1. Allowing students and senior citizens to attend daytime screenings for free, thus ensuring full houses for most films, a benefit to the filmmakers and other audience members—because the social aspect of screenings is one reason people still go out to the movies—as well as allowing people who may be on limited budgets to see some really great films.

2. Printing the audience award ballots on the tickets, eliminating the need for extra pieces of paper, and at the same time pre-empting the potential for ballot stuffing.

3. Including a crowd-funded prize as part of the audience choice award, and splitting it among the top three vote-getters. Besides helping the filmmakers, it’s a good way to make audience members feel they have a stake in the festival.

Finally, here are the official award winners:

• Best Canadian Feature Documentary: When I Walk, dir. Jason DaSilva

• Special Jury Prize, Canadian Feature Documentary: Alphée of the Stars, dir. Hugo Latulippe

documentary Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award: Nicolas Renaud for Brave New River

• Best International Feature Documentary Award; Dragon Girls, dir. Inigo Westmeier

• Special Jury Prize, International Feature Documentary: Cloudy Mountains, dir. Zhu Yu

• HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award: Lotfy Nathan, for 12 O’Clock Boys

• Best Mid-Length Documentary: The Circle, dir. Bram Conjaerts

• Best Short Documentary Award: Notes on Blindness: Rainfall, dir. James Spinney, Peter Middleton

• Inspirit Foundation Pluralism Prize: Khoa Le for BA NOI

• Lindalee Tracey Award (for an emerging Canadian filmmaker with “a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice, and a sense of humor”): Antoine Bourges and Rocco Barriuso

• 2013 Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award: Les Blank documentary’s Don Haig Award: Jensen Carr

• 2013 Doc Mogul Award: Debra Zimmerman (Executive Director, Women Make Movies)

| Sarah Boslaugh

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