Yuqi Kang’s A Little Wisdom named best Canadian feature at Hot Docs

Hot Docs pic
Michael Del Monte's Transformer also claimed a number of awards as the Toronto festival wrapped its 25th edition over the weekend.

A number of Canadian projects including director Yuqi Kang’s A Little Wisdom and Michael Del Monte’s Transformer claimed prizes over the weekend as Hot Docs wrapped its 25th edition.

A Little Wisdom (Blue Goat Films) picked up the prize for best Canadian feature doc at a presentation on Friday, May 4 at the University of Toronto’s Isabel Bader Theatre. Produced by Kang and Maro Chermayeff, the feature follows a five-year-old novice at an isolated Buddhist monastery in Nepal. The doc received a $10,000 cash prize courtesy of Hot Docs.

Meanwhile, the emerging Canadian filmmaker award was presented to Del Monte for Transformer (Storystream Creative). The award, which is given to a first or second-time Canadian filmmaker with a feature film in the Canadian Spectrum program, includes a $3,000 cash prize. In a separate announcement on Sunday, May 6, Transformer was named the winner of the Rogers Audience Award for Best Canadian Documentary prize, which includes a $50,000 cash prize.

Del Monte’s film, which made its Canadian premiere at the fest, documents the story of a father, ex-marine and world-record powerlifter who transitions from male to female. Transformer was one of five docs that previously picked up funding from the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Fund in April 2017.

In addition, the $5,000 DGC Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature Documentary went to What Walaa Wants (Murmur Media) from director Christy Garland. The Canada/Denmark coproduction tells the story of a young woman who wants to become one of the few women to join the Palestinian Security Forces. Producers on the project include Garland, Anne Köhncke, Matt Code and Justine Pimlott.

In the shorts category, director and producer Jamie Miller won the best Canadian short doc prize for Prince’s Tale. The project, which won $3,000 in cash, follows a young man who expresses himself through performance art and acting following a fire that drastically changed his body. Vika from director and producers Christian Borys and Marta Iwanek also received an honourable mention from the jury.

Fazila Amiri and Tim Tracey were awarded the Lindalee Tracey Award, picking up a hand-blown glass sculpture from Andrew Kuntz, $5,000 from the Lindalee Tracey Fund and $5,000 in post-production services from Technicolor. The award honours an emerging Canadian filmmaker with a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice and a sense of humour.

Meanwhile, international filmmakers also took home a number of awards, including director Hind Bensari’s Denmark/Tunisia/Morocco/Quatar copro, We Could Be Heroes (produced by Vibeke Vogel and Habib Attia), which won the award for best international feature doc. Meanwhile, there was a tie for the Special Jury Prize – International Feature Documentary prize, with director Shameela Seedat’s Whispering Truth to Power (South Africa) and Corrado Punzi’s Wind of Swabia (Italy) splitting the $5,000 prize. Whispering Truth to Power is produced by Seedat, Francois Verster, Neil Brandt, Brechtje Smidt and Millan Collin, while Wind of Swabia is produced by Davide Barletti.

Elsewhere, Elan Bogarín and Jonathan Bogarín, the directors behind 306 Hollywood (U.S.), took home the Emerging International Filmmaker Award. The prize is given to a first or second-time international filmmaker with a feature film in the International Spectrum program. The jury also acknowledged Jill Magid, director of The Proposal, with an honourable mention.

Other international winners included director Enrico Maisto and producer Riccardo Annoni’s The Call (Italy), which won the best mid-length doc prize; director/producer Christian Einshøj’s Haunted (Denmark), which won the prize for best international short doc; and director Alexandria Bombach’s On Her Shoulders (U.S.), produced by Hayley Pappas and Brock Williams, which won the Scotiabank Docs For Schools Student Choice Award.

Barbara Kopple and Montreal-based documentary filmmaker John Walker were also honoured at this year’s fest. Kopple received the 2018 Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award, while Walker was honoured during the presentation as the recipient of this year’s Hot Docs Focus On retrospective.

Earlier, on April 30, the fest named Montreal-based producer Ina Fichman as this year’s recipient of the Don Haig Award, which recognizes outstanding Canadian producers. Fichman, who is the founder of Intuitive Pictures, was presented with the award along with a $10,000 prize at the Friday ceremony.

As part of the honour, the recipient can name an emerging female filmmaker to receive a $5,000 cash prize and professional development opportunities at the Hot Docs Festival. She named Montreal-based producers Fanny Drew and Sarah Mannering from Colonelle Films as the recipients of the prize.