Hot Docs 2018 – It Was a Very Good Year
(May 7, 2018 – Toronto, ON) It is North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market, and this year was bigger and better than ever. Almost 250 documentaries from Canada and around the world were presented during the festival’s 25th annual edition that wrapped last night. The 11-day event attracted a record-breaking audience estimated at 223,000.
Sticking with the numbers, the festival welcomed more than 300 guest filmmakers and subjects from across Canada and around the world to present their films and take part in special post-screening Q&A sessions with audiences. The final, official film selections were chosen from a record number of 3060 films submitted to Hot Docs.
“Thank you to all of the exceptionally talented filmmakers who helped us celebrate our 25th anniversary Festival this year,” said Brett Hendrie, Hot Docs’ executive director. “The stories you told captivated and inspired Festival audiences, further demonstrating the importance of documentary film and its ability to strengthen our connection to the people and world that surrounds us.”
Last night it was announced that the Rogers Audience Award for Best Canadian Documentary went to Transformer, with a $50,000 cash prize, courtesy of Rogers Group of Funds, being given to director Michael Del Monte. Part of that award is a special encore screening, which took place at 7:00pm at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. The film tells the story of a Janae Marie Kroczaleski, a trans woman who was once a famous male world-record powerlifter.
And when audience votes were tallied after the final screening yesterday, it was determined that Transformer was also the winner of the Hot Docs Audience Award. With the Rogers Audience Award for Best Canadian Documentary, Hot Docs handed out over $272,000 in cash and prizes to films and filmmakers at this year’s festival.
Also, in the audience poll, the top short documentary was Prince’s Tale (D: Jamie Miller; Canada), and the top mid-length was Dreaming Murakami (D: Nitesh Anjaan; Denmark). The top DocX project went to Tree (D: Milica Zec, Winslow Turner Porter III; USA).
As determined by audience vote, following are the top 20 audience favourites, of which 9 are Canadian or Canadian co-productions:
1. Transformer (D: Michael Del Monte; Canada)
2. The Accountant of Auschwitz (D: Matthew Shoychet; Canada)
3. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (D: Morgan Neville; USA)
4. The Game Changers (D: Louie Psihoyos; USA, Canada)
5. On Her Shoulders (D: Alexandria Bombach; USA)
6. Bathtubs Over Broadway (D: Dava Whisenant; USA)
7. The Silver Branch (D: Katrina Costello; Ireland)
8. The Oslo Diaries (D: Mor Loushy, Daniel Sivan; Canada, Israel)
9. Pick of the Litter (D: Dana Nachman, Don Hardy; USA)
10. The Silence of Others (D: Almudena Carracedo, Robert Bahar; Spain)
11. United Skates (D: Dyana Winkler, Tina Brown; USA)
12. Primas (D: Laura Bari; Canada, Argentina)
13. Letter From Masanjia (D: Leon Lee; Canada)
14. This Mountain Life (D: Grant Baldwin; Canada)
15. Mr. Soul! (D: Sam Pollard, Melissa Haizlip; USA)
16. Laila at the Bridge (D: Elizabeth Mirzaei, Gulistan Mirzaei; Canada, Afghanistan)
17. The Guardians (D: Billie Mintz; Canada)
18. Warrior Women (D: Christina D. King, Elizabeth a. Castle; USA)
19. Prince’s Tale (D: Jamie Miller; Canada)
20. Gurrumul (D: Paul Damien Williams; Australia)
During the Festival, Hot Docs also presented the seventh edition of the Big Ideas Series, presented by Scotia Wealth Management, which featured screenings and live onstage discussions with prominent documentary subjects. DocX, an interdisciplinary section of the Festival celebrating documentary work that lives outside of the traditional format, ran an expanded program that featured 14 virtual reality and interactive exhibits, a video installation presented in partnership with the Goethe-Institut Toronto, and a special live performance. And the second edition of the Food & Film series, which provided in-depth conversations with special Festival guests and partners, was extremely popular with several sold-out events.
There was also a full week of industry programming that was attended by over 2698 delegates from around the world. Hot Docs mounted a roster of six workshops, 20 conference sessions, close to 15 networking events and parties, three Kickstart panels for emerging filmmakers, five micro-meetings, 18 Close Up With… sessions with broadcasters, the Doc Summit, and the Hot Docs Awards Presentation. Hot Docs also hosted 12 official delegations from Atlantic Canada, Bermuda, Chile, Europe, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Nordic Region, Northern Ireland, 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, 21 projects— for which half of the producers and more than half of the directors attached were women—representing 20 countries were presented to a room of over 475 industry delegates including 220 key commissioning editors and funders at the Hot Docs Forum, and a total of 65 projects were pitched at approximately 800 meetings during Hot Docs Deal Maker.
Doc For Schools, Hot Docs’ education program that runs during the Festival and offers free in-theatre and in-school screenings of select Festival films, saw an estimated 101,086 students participate in the program in 2018 from schools in Toronto and throughout Ontario.
As the headline says, for Hot Docs 2018, it was a very good year. Congratulations.