Hot Docs Presents Awards For 10th Annual Event
by Christopher Henderson
The 10th annual Hot Docs festival passed out awards earlier this month to an eclectic group of documentaries after a well-attended festival (despite the SARS scare in Toronto). John Kastner's "Rage Against The Darkness" was honored as the best Canadian documentary in a ceremony hosted by critic Cameron Bailey. The film, which premiered at the festival, follows two elderly sisters who are torn apart when the younger one suffers a stroke.
Another world premiere, Joseph Blasioli's "The Last Round," about working class Torontonian George Chuvalo's boxing match with Muhammad Ali in 1966, received a special jury prize in the best Canadian feature-length category. On the other side of the spectrum, Eve Lamont's politically charged "Squat!," about the battles between squatters and Montreal's city government during a housing crisis in 2001, was recognized with both the best direction award and the humanitarian award.
Americans prevailed in the international categories. Paul Devlin picked up the best international feature award for "Power Trip," about an American power company that provides electricity to the former Soviet republic of Georgia. A special jury prize was awarded to Elaine Epstein's "State of Denial," which looks at AIDS in South Africa and the government's inadequate and confusing response. The best first doc award went to Johan Kramer for "The Other Final," about a soccer match between low-ranking teams.
In the National Spotlight program, focused on U.K. docs, Kim Longinotto's "The Day I Will Never Forget," about female genital mutilation, won the top award, with Qinze Wang's "Ou Dede and His Daughters" getting an honorable mention. British documentarian Nick Broomfield ("Biggie and Tupac") received the annual outstanding achievement award.
The 10-day festival screened 122 films and reported its largest attendance. Audiences picked Canadian director Raymonde Provencher's "War Babies," about women raped during war who later give birth, as their favorite film.