Hot Docs to honour Montreal filmmaker John Walker

The Quebec, My Country Mon Pays director will be recognized with a "Focus On" retrospective, while Barbara Kopple will receive the Outstanding Achievement award.

John WalkerToronto’s Hot Docs film festival will honor Montreal-based documentary filmmaker John Walker with this year’s Focus On retrospective, which showcases the work of a significant Canadian filmmaker.

Walker most recently directed, wrote and produced the DGC-nominated Quebec, My Country Mon Pays. Further documentary titles in Walker’s library include Strand-Under the Dark ClothThe Fairy FaithA Drummer’s DreamArctic Defenders and Men of the Deeps, for which he received a 2004 Gemini Award for Best Performing Arts Documentary Program. All told, his feature-length documentaries have received 19 nominations and awards from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television over his career, including the Donald Brittain Award for best social/political documentary.

A founding member of the Documentary Organization of Canada, Walker has also crafted a number of films for British television, including the first two films in the BBC/October Films trilogy The Hand of Stalin; and Channel 4′s Hidden ChildrenOrphans of Manchuria and Distress Signals. 

Hot Docs will screen a selection of Walker’s films in the Focus On program during the 25th annual festival, which runs April 26 to May 6 in Toronto.

The festival also announced that Barbara Kopple will receive the Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award, which is presented annually in recognition of a filmmaker’s enduring contribution to the documentary form.

As part of the honor, Hot Docs will screen a retrospective of Kopple’s work during the 25th anniversary festival, celebrating her distinguished 46-year filmmaking career.

Kopple’s filmography includes Harlan County, USA (1976), about a 1973 Kentucky coal miners’ strike, and American Dream (1991), which recounts the 1985-86 Hormel Foods strike in Minnesota. Kopple won Academy Awards for Best Feature Documentary for both docs. Her most recent documentary, A Murder in Mansfield, premiered at the 2017 DOC NYC Film Festival, and This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous, which she directed and produced, premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

Her additional feature film credits include Miss Sharon Jones! (2015), Bearing Witness (2005), Shut Up and Sing (2006), Running from Crazy (2013), Woodstock ’94 (1998) and Wild Man Blues (1997), among others.

The exact films screening in both retrospectives will be announced in March.

Past Focus On honorees include Maya Gallus (2017), Rosie Dransfield (2016), Carole Laganière (2015), John Zaritsky (2014), Peter Mettler (2013), John Kastner (2012), Alan Zweig (2011), Tahani Rached (2010), Ron Mann (2009), Jennifer Baichwal (2008), Kevin McMahon (2007), Serge Giguère (2006), Larry Weinstein (2005), Nettie Wild (2004), Shelley Saywell (2003) and Zacharias Kunuk (2002).