Hot Docs names $50K Audience Award winners

Walking away with a $10,000 cash prize each, the virtual presentation saw The Walrus and the Whistleblower and 9/11 Kids among its five winners.

Nathalie Bibeau’s The Walrus and the Whistleblower, Elizabeth St. Philip’s 9/11 Kids, Ariel Nasr’s The Forbidden Reel, Suzanne Crocker’s First We Eat and Lulu Wei’s There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace each walked away with a portion of the Hot Docs Rogers Audience Award for Canadian Feature, courtesy of the Rogers Group of Funds.

Presented during a virtual ceremony on Sunday, the $50,000 prize – which typically goes to the top Canadian feature documentary screened at the Hot Docs Festival, as determined by audience poll – will see each CAVCO-certified and Canadian directed project receive a $10,000 cash prize. Notably, three of out of the five winners made their world debuts at the festival: The Walrus and the Whistleblower (pictured), which closed off Hot Docs at Home in May; First We Eat; and There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace.

As well, since Hot Docs is an Academy Award qualifying festival, Bibeau’s documentary following a MarineLand trainer turned whistleblower received the most audience votes, meaning the project is eligible for consideration in the Oscars’ Documentary Feature section without a standard theatrical run and providing it complies with Academy rules, according to a press release.

Hot Docs also revealed its top 20 audience favourites, which were determined by viewer vote.

The list includes: The Walrus and the Whistleblower (#1); 9/11 Kids (#2); Welcome to Chechnya (U.S., #3); The Forbidden Reel (#4); The 8th (U.S., #5); Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story (U.K., #6); Breaking the Silence (Colombia/Bolivia, #7); Transhood (U.S., #8); Coded Bias (U.S., #9); Green Blood (France, #10); If It Were Love (France) and Love and Fury (U.S./U.K., tied at #11); First We Eat (#12); Sanmao. The Desert Bride (Spain, #13); There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace (#14); The Reason I Jump (U.K., #15); Mein Vietnam (Germany/Austria, #16); opening night presentation Kenya/Canada copro Softie (#17); The Last Archer (Spain, #18); and Dope is Death (Canada, #19).

The Forbidden Reel also earned top film in the Artscapes program, while The Walrus and the Whistleblower was the top project in the Canadian Spectrum. As well, 9/11 Kids came out on top in the World Showcase category, Finding Sally led in Revisionaries and First We Eat prevailed in the To Conserve & Protect section.

Canadian titles were also recognized on the top five short films list with director Aïcha Diop’s Nancy’s Workshop (#1), Jason Young’s Gun Killers (#2), Ben Proudfoot’s The Lost Astronaut (#3, Canada/U.S.) and êmîcêtôcêt: Many Bloodlines from Theola Ross. Director Dia Sokol Savage’s Welcome Strangers (#5, U.S.) capped off the list.

Running from May 28 to June 6, the Hot Docs Festival Online streamed over 140 films, 69 virtual Q&As, three live Q&As with the NFB and five Big Ideas webinars.

Image courtesy of Hot Docs