(May 5, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) Hot Docs has wrapped its 21st edition with record-breaking audience numbers reaching an estimated 192,000. The 11-day event featured 452 public screenings of 197 films on 16 screens across Toronto, an internationally renowned conference and market for documentary professionals, and Docs For Schools, a phenomenally popular education program for youth. The Festival welcomed 176 guest filmmakers and 60 guest subjects from across Canada and around the world to present their films and take part in special post-screening Q&A sessions with audiences. Official film selections were chosen from a total of 2435 films submitted to the Festival.
At the Festival, Hot Docs presented the second edition of the Scotiabank Big Ideas series, featuring screenings and live onstage discussions with prominent documentary subjects, including pop culture icon George Takei, master puppeteer Caroll Spinney, the brave plaintiffs from THE CASE AGAINST 8, oceanographer Sylvia Earle, and Cory Doctorow and guests from THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY: THE STORY OF AARON SWARTZ.
This year also saw the return of the Hot Docs Live! program, which featured the Canadian premiere of SUPER DUPER ALICE COOPER and a live post-screening Q&A with the rock icon that was simulcast from the Festival to over 50 Cineplex cinemas across Canada.
“It`s a testament to the creative vitality of Canadian docs that one has captured the Audience Award and so many others have landed in the audience top twenty,” says Brett Hendrie, Hot Docs executive director. “Congratulations to all the filmmakers, and big thanks to the dedicated audiences who helped us welcome so many international guests—we love showing off this wonderful city and its insatiable appetite for docs.”
After the final screening yesterday, audience votes were tallied for the Audience Award, presented by JUST-EAT.ca. The winner is the Canadian film, THE BACKWARD CLASS directed by Madeleine Grant. The doc tells the story of the Dalit students of Shanti Bhavan school in India preparing to make history by becoming the first from their “untouchable” caste to take high-school graduation exams.
Second in the audience poll is MEET THE PATELS (D: Geeta V. Patel, Ravi V. Patel; USA), in which a first-generation Indian-American decides to find love the old-fashioned way by letting his parents find him a wife; and third in the audience poll is THE CASE AGAINST 8 (D: Ben Cotner, Ryan White; USA), which looks at the emboldened movement to strike down California’s Prop 8 as unconstitutional.
There were eight Canadian films in the list of top twenty audience favourites as determined by audience vote:
THE BACKWARD CLASS (D: Madeleine Grant, Canada) MEET THE PATELS (D: Geeta V. Patel, Ravi V. Patel; USA) THE CASE AGAINST 8 (D: Ben Cotner, Ryan White; USA) KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON (D: Alan Hicks, USA) VIRUNGA (D: Orlando von Einsiedel, UK) MARINONI (D: Tony Girardin, Canada) AN HONEST LIAR (D: Justin Weinstein, Tyler Measom; USA) THE SECRET TRIAL 5 (D: Amar Wala, Canada) I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY (D: Chad Walker, Dave LaMattina; USA) THE LIFE AND MIND OF MARK DEFRIEST (D: Gabriel London, USA) DAVID & ME (D: Ray Klonsky, Marc Lamy; Canada) MISSION BLUE (D: Robert Nixon, Fisher Stevens; USA) BEFORE THE LAST CURTAIN FALLS (D: Thomas Wallner; Germany, Belgium, Canada) JUST EAT IT: A FOOD WASTE STORY (D: Grant Baldwin, Canada) OUT OF MIND, OUT OF SIGHT (D: John Kastner, Canada) WATCHERS OF THE SKY (D: Edet Belzberg, USA) THE SHEIK (D: Igal Hecht, Canada) ALFRED AND JAKOBINE (D: Tom Roberts, Jonathan Howells; UK, Canada) RED LINES (D: Andrea Kalin, Oliver Lukacs; USA) VESSEL (D: Diana Whitten, USA)
Also during this year’s Hot Docs Festival, attending filmmakers with official selections in the Festival were invited to vote for their favourite film. The winner of this year’s Filmmaker-To-Filmmaker Award is NE ME QUITTE PAS (D: Niels van Koevorden, Sabine Lubbe Bakker; Netherlands, Belgium), an unforgettable tragicomic portrait of codependence in alcoholism and friendship.
Coming in a close second place for the Filmmaker-To-Filmmaker Award is BEYOND CLUELESS (D: Charlie Lyne; UK, Canada), a surprising and comprehensive visual essay on the modern teen movie genre.
A full week of industry programming was attended by 2389 delegates from around the world. Hot Docs mounted a roster of three workshops, nine conference sessions, 23 networking events and parties, three Kickstart panels for emerging filmmakers, 11 micro meetings, 16 Close Up With… sessions with broadcasters, three Rent-an-Expert sessions, the Doc Summit, International Co-Production Day panels, and the Hot Docs Awards Presentation. Hot Docs also hosted seven official delegations from China, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Nordic Region, South Africa and the USA.
The Hot Docs Forum, Hot Docs’ key international co-financing market event, Hot Docs Deal Maker, Hot Docs’ one-on-one curated pitch event, and Distribution Rendezvous, Hot Docs’ tailored meeting service for completed films seeking distribution, saw brisk pitching, networking and deal-making. In total, 20 projects representing 13 countries were presented to a panel of over 180 key commissioning editors and funders at the Hot Docs Forum. A total of 50 projects were pitched at approximately 540 meetings during Hot Docs Deal Maker, and Distribution Rendezvous facilitated approximately 329 meetings.
Last, but not least, Docs For Schools, Hot Docs’ education program that runs during the Festival and offers free in-theatre and in-school screenings of select Festival films, reached a record number of students in 2014. Close to 85,000 students participated in the program, including schools in Toronto and throughout Ontario.
Northernstars.ca congratulates Hot Docs on another stellar year.