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"Family," "Film Unfinished" Lead Hot Docs Awards

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire May 8, 2010 at 11:05AM

The 2010 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival announced the winners of their juried awards this evening at the Isabel Bader Theater in Toronto. Hosted by Canadian radio and television personality Jian Ghomeshi (who - for those unaware - jokingly explained himself as the "Persian-Canadian Katie Couric"), the ceremony marked the winding down of the enormously successful fest, which saw sold-out screening after sold-out screening and a 10% increase in attendance after seeing a 43% increase last year.
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The 2010 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival announced the winners of their juried awards this evening at the Isabel Bader Theater in Toronto. Hosted by Canadian radio and television personality Jian Ghomeshi (who - for those unaware - jokingly explained himself as the "Persian-Canadian Katie Couric"), the ceremony marked the winding down of the enormously successful fest, which saw sold-out screening after sold-out screening and a 10% increase in attendance after seeing a 43% increase last year.

Yael Hersonski's "A Film Unfinished" took the best international film award, which comes with a $10,000 cash award. The film deconstructs the now-infamous unfinished Nazi propaganda film about Jewish life in the Warsaw Ghetto.

"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," the jury said in a statement. "This is a film for the ages."

"The Oath" - directed by Laura Poitras - won a special jury award and a $5,000 cash prize. The film looks inside al-Qaida through the eyes of two suspected terrorists.

The jury stated: "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."

The best Canadian feature award - which comes with a $15,000 prize - went to Shelley Saywell's "In The Name of the Family." The film discusses the traditions that lie behind the violence committed against Muslim women.

A scene from Shelley Saywell's "In The Name of the Family."

"The best Canadian feature offers an intimate take on the challenges of immigration for young people, and generational conflicts that can go terribly wrong," the jury stated in regard to the film. "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."

John Zaritsky's "Leave Them Laughing" took the Canadian doc special jury prize, which comes with $10,000. "Laughing" follows 46-year old singer, writer and performer Carla Zilbersmith as she battles Lou Gehrig’s disease.

"The Special Jury Prize goes to a film about an unimaginably horrifying disease that draws us in rather than making us turn away," the jury said. "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."

The Emerging Artist Awards HBO Documentary Films went to "Marwencol" director Jeff Malmberg, who dedicated the award to the programming staff at both Hot Docs and SXSW (where "Marwencol" premiered and won a top jury prize).

Tomer Heymann's "I Shot My Love" won the best mid-length documentary award. The film follows Heymann himself as he returns to his ancestral home to present a film at the Berlin International Film Festival. It is there that he meets and falls in love with German dancer Andreas Merk, a man who will forever change his life.

The best documentary short award went to Jonas Odell's "Tussilago," which tells the story the then girlfriend of West German terrorist Norbert Krocher, who was suspected in participating in Krocher's plans to kidnap Swedish politician Anna-Great Leijon.

"i feel very honored," the Swedish filmmaker - unable to attend the ceremony - in a message to the fest. "Documentary film is by far the most innovative and interesting type of filmmaking out there."

The Outstanding Achievement Award went to UK filmmaker Kim Longinotto ("Rough Aunties"). Longinotto applauded Hot Docs in her speech, congratulating them on their growth as a festival. "I'm so glad I came," she gushed.

The Don Haig Award - which honors up and coming Canadian documentarians - went to Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji, the co-directors of "65_RedRoses." The film - which looks at the life of 23-year old Eva Markvoort as she battles Cystic Fibrosis and hopes for a double lung transplant - screened at last year's film festival to a very warm response. Lyall and Mukerji dedicated their award to Markvoort, who unfortunately passed away in the past year. The prize included a $20,000 cash award.

The award was established in 2002 by Don Haig's life companion Bill Schultz, his family, colleagues, and the filmmakers he supported. The award is the legacy of Don and a unique opportunity for members of the Canadian film and television community to "give back" in his spirit. Previous winners include "Up The Yangtze"'s Yung Chang and "RiP: A Remix Manifesto""s Brett Gaylor.

The Lindalee Tracy Award - honouring "an emerging Canadian filmmaker with a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice and a sense of humour" - went to 20 year old Ayanie Mohamed of Toronto. Monhamed - who had made his last film for just $40 - affectionately dedicated the award to his mother. As part of the award, Mohamed will receive a $6,000 cash prize and $3,000 in film stock donated by Kodak Canada.

Hot Docs will announce its audience award in the coming days as its last round of screenings comes to an end. Check out the earlier announced winners of the Toronto Documentary Forum, and indieWIRE's previous coverage of the festival:

Dispatch from Toronto | Hot Docs ’10: Pitch Perfect at the Toronto Documentary Forum
Dispatch from Toronto | Hot Docs ’10: Family Ties & Common Bonds
Doc Distribution: Six Case Studies On What’s Working

This article is related to: Documentary, A Film Unfinished





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