Hot Docs Salutes "Street Fight" and "Hogtown: The Politics of Policing"
by Ellen Keohane
The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival presented its awards last Friday at a ceremony in Toronto's Isabel Bader Theatre with Marshall Curry's "Street Fight" winning the best international documentary award as well as this year's audience award. The film, which made its international premiere at Hot Docs, follows the racially charged 2002 Newark, New Jersey mayoral race between four-term incumbent James Sharpe and Cory Booker, a young city councilman and Rhodes Scholar. This year's Hot Docs festival took place from April 22 - May 1 in Toronto and presented more than a hundred documentaries from Canada and around the world- with this year's "National Spotlight On" program featuring 12 documentaries from Israeli filmmakers. Hot Docs is the largest documentary festival in North America, with this year's attendance topping 41,000.
Min Sook Lee's "Hogtown: The Politics of Policing" took home the award for best Canadian feature-length documentary. The film, which was shot during a six-month period last year, is an in-depth look at the "political dysfunction" of Toronto's city council and police board. The award for best director for a Canadian feature-length film went to André-Line Beauparlant for "Little Jesus," the story of the life and death of the filmmaker's disabled younger brother.
In other awards, Nadja Drost's "Between Midnight and the Rooster's Crow" received the award for best Canadian mid-length documentary. In the film, Drost, travels to Ecuador to investigate allegations of environmental contamination and human rights violations by the Alberta oil company, EnCana Corporation. Jeremy Munce won the best direction award for a short to mid-length Canadian film for "The Alma Drawings." After experiencing a religious vision, Munce's Aunt Alma created hundreds of drawings she claimed were influenced by "spirit guides."
A special international jury prize was also awarded to Jeppe Rønde's "The Swenkas," a film about a traditional "stylishness" contest practiced by Zulu men in South Africa called "swanking." In the National Spotlight On Israel program, the best documentary award was presented to Anat Zuria's "Sentenced to Marriage," an expose of the many legal and social obstacles Israeli women face when seeking divorce from their husbands. Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani, meanwhile, won the FIPRESCI award for best first documentary for their film, "The Devil's Miner," about the Bolivian silver mines of Cerro Rico.
Academy-Award winner Errol Morris ("Fast, Cheap & Out of Control") was also honored with an outstanding achievement award at this year's festival.
[For a full list of festival winners, visit their website]