Hot Docs ’20: Children of the Mist, Ojiibikaan take forum prizes

Canadian doc Ojiibikaan was awarded the Corus-Hot Docs Forum Pitch Prize at the virtual Hot Docs Forum, which comes with a $10,000 cash prize.

Hà Lệ Diễm’s Children of the Mist and Rémy Huberdeau and Sean Stiller’s Ojiibikaan were among the documentary projects to be awarded cash prizes at the 21st annual Hot Docs Forum.

The 27th annual Hot Docs Festival was originally scheduled to take place from April 30 to May 10 in Toronto, before the live event was cancelled amid public health and safety concerns related to the enduring COVID-19 pandemic.

The 22 project selections for the Hot Docs Forum were chosen from 463 submissions and represent 19 countries, with women making up 18 of the 27 directors, and 42 of the 60 producers associated with the films.

All pitches were eligible for the First Look Pitch Prize, the $10,000 Corus-Hot Docs Forum Pitch Prize, and the Cuban Hat Award. 

A total of $57,000 in cash prizes was awarded to Hot Docs Forum projects. 

Huberdeau and Stiller’s Ojiibikaan was awarded with the Corus-Hot Docs Forum Pitch Prize. The Canadian documentary, which received a $10,000 prize, serves as a cinematic, character-driven feature that examines our relationship with the living world.  

The Corus-Hot Docs Forum Pitch Prize is awarded to the best Canadian pitch at the forum as voted on by attending international buyers.

Prior to being pitched at the Hot Docs Forum, Ojiibikaan received a production grant through Hot Docs’ CrossCurrents Canada Fund, which supports a diversity of perspectives to “build a more representative and sustainable industry.”

Diễm’s Children of the Mist was honored with the First Look Pitch Prize, which came with a $30,000 cash award. The Vietnamese project documents a teenage girl in the mountains of North Vietnam as she walks “a thin line” between childhood and adulthood.

The award’s second prize of $15,000 was handed out to Anjali Nayar and Mbithi Masya’s Just a Band (pictured)Produced by Roger Ross Williams, Ink & Pepper Productions and Afrobubblegum, the feature film serves as a coming-of-age story about four Nairobians who form an Afro-electric band during Kenya’s post-dictatorship art renaissance.  

Honorary mention was provided to Giedrė Žickytė’s Masha. The film which received a $2,000 prize, reveals the legacy of Russia’s lost photographer, Masha Ivashintsova.

The First Look winners are voted on by the program’s participants. It is curated for “philanthropic supporters of, and investors in, documentary film.”

“We’re incredibly proud of this year’s Hot Docs Forum and especially humbled by the spirit with which our community of filmmakers and decision makers united to make this event warm and engaging during these incredibly challenging times,” said Dorota Lech, Hot Docs industry programmer and Forum producer, in a statement.

The inaugural Hot Docs Al Jazeera Short Pitch, meanwhile, has awarded two pitches with full commissions and a total cash prizes of up to $140,000 (US$100,000).

The winning pitches were Erin Byrnes’ Six Mile and Woodward, in which trans women of colour in Detroit confront widespread violence, and Cat Mills’ Illegal Billboards, about an anarchist-type who targets illegal billboards in Toronto.

The short prize was originally meant to support at least one winner with up to $70,000 (US$50,000) for a full commission.

Access to content in the online market continues for registered delegates until May 31, and curated one-on-one pitch meetings arranged through Hot Docs Deal Maker and Distribution Rendezvous programs continue throughout the month.

Launched on April 30 and running until May 31, the Hot Docs’ online market has seen 1,535 delegates participate.

The Hot Docs Festival Online will begin streaming more than  140 official festival selections, including most of the winning films, to audiences across Ontario starting on May 28 on the recently launched Hot Docs at Home TVOD platform. During Hot Docs Festival Online, audiences will also be able to vote online for the $50,000 Rogers Audience Award, which will recognize the top five Canadian films in an audience poll with $10,000 cash prizes for each.

The Rogers Audience Award will be announced on June 7.

This story originally appeared in Realscreen