The 2011 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival announced its winners this evening at the Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto. In a ceremony hosted by CBC Radio One's Jian Ghomeshi, 9 awards and over $72,000 in cash prizes were presented to Canadian and international filmmakers. Julia Ivanova's "Family Portrait In Black and White" took the Best Canadian Feature Award, which came with a $15,000 prize.
"The award for Best Canadian Feature goes to an intimate, poetic film that bravely confronts nuance and complexity in its characters and its world," the jury said.
The film, which visits a ramshackle house in Ukraine where supermom Olga Nenya is raising 16 abandoned mixed-race children, premiered at Sundance earlier this year.
Isabelle Lavigne and Stephane Thibault's "At Night, They Dance" and Thomas Selim Wallner's "The Guantanamo Trap" won Special Jury Prizes in the Canadian Feature section.
"The special jury prize is shared between two films, a powerful film that mobilizes compelling characters who face uncomfortable truths, piecing together the anatomy of a broken system - 'The Guantanamo Trap' by Thomas Selwin Wallmer, and a beautifully filmed, haunting and evocative documentary that invites us into a world we would never be able to enter otherwise - 'At Night They Dance' by Isabelle Lavigne and Stephane Thibault."
The Canadian Features Jury also acknowledged the film "Wiebo's War" (directed by David York) with an honourable mention.
The award for Best International Feature was presented to SXSW hit "Dragonslayer." Directed by Tristan Patterson, the film follows Californian skate-punk Skreech who stretches out his adolescence by riding empty pools, getting wasted and road-tripping. The award includes a $10,000 prize.
"We were captivated by a non-hero, in a capitalistic, nihilistic society in decline," the jury said. "We were drawn to the funky connection between the structure and content, the freshness of filmmaking and original non-linear storytelling. For these reasons we stand by 'Dragonslayer.'"
The Special Jury Prize for an international feature was presented to Massimo D'Anolfi's "The Castle," which remarkably eposes the ennui and heightened tensions of today's border security at Milan's Malpensa Airport.
The jury said with regard to "The Castle": "For portraying a liminal space in both humor and pain; for the uncompromising camera which sees it all; for noticing the hardship of a system trapped by its own obsession of security, turning a regular terminal into an intrusive checkpoint into Europe; for not neglecting those who resist; for us who look but don't see."
The International Features Jury also acknowledged the films "Grande Hotel" and "Hell and Back Again" with honorable mentions.
Other awards included best mid-length documentary, which went to Eline Flipse's "Our Newspaper," and best short documentary, which went to Catherine van Campen's "Flying Anne." The HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award was presented to director Michal Marczak for the film "At The Edge of Russia" in which a young recruit arrives at his Arctic post, hundreds of miles from the nearest human settlement, and is charged with an absurd task: patrolling the nothingness.
The Hot Docs Board of Directors acknowledged the Terence Macartney-Filgate as the recipient of the 2011 Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award, which was presented to the influential Canadian filmmaker at an event earlier in the day. The documentary's Don Haig Award, presented annually to a Canadian documentary filmmaker, was awarded to Toronto-based writer and director Rama Rau. Awarded by the Don Haig Foundation, the prize includes a $20,000 cash prize generously sponsored by documentary.
The Lindalee Tracey Award, which honours an emerging Canadian filmmaker with a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice and a sense of humour, was presented to Quebec-based documentary filmmaker Alexandre Hamel. As part of the award, Hamel will receive a $6,000 cash prize and $3,000 in film stock donated by Kodak Canada.
The 2011 awards were determined by three juries, each consisting of three jury members.
The Canadian Features Jury was made up of Nathalie Barton (President of InformAction Films), Caroline Libresco (Senior Programmer for Sundance Film Festival), and Alan Zweig (Filmmaker); the International Features Jury was made up of Luciano Barisone (Director of Visions du Reel), Marianne Khoury (Filmmaker), and Philippa Kowarsky (Managing Director of Cinephil); and the Short and Mid-Length Films Jury was made up of Jason Anderson (Film Critic, Journalist, Teacher), Sarah Goodman (Filmmaker), and Malcolm Pullinger (Filmmaker).
The Sundance Channel People's Choice Award and audience top ten favourite films of the 2011 Festival, determined by audience ballot, will be announced on Monday, May 9.