‘A Little Wisdom’ Leads Hot Docs Award Winners

A Little Wisdom

By Pat Mullen

Yuqi Kang’s A Little Wisdom led the Hot Docs award winners announced last night. A Little Wisdom won the prize for Best Canadian Feature Documentary. The film is a visually sumptuous portrait of a young boy in Nepal as he begins his journey to become a monk. The jury called A Little Wisdom “outstandingly crafted” and remarked, “This absorbing cinematic film captures the distinct and moving inner rhythms of a Tibetan monastery, welcoming us into a world that we never thought a mischievous child could reveal.” A Little Wisdom screens again today at the Revue Cinema at 1:00 PM.

The Director’s Guild of Canada Special Jury Prize went to director Christy Garland for her feature What Walaa Wants. The doc is a powerful tale of a young girl beating the odds to pursue her dream job in the Palestinian Security Forces. The jury for praised Garland for “displaying an extraordinary bond between filmmaker and subject which then carries over to the audience.”

Director Michael Del Monte received the Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award for Transformer. The film offers a portrait of transgender bodybuilder Janae Croc as she navigates her desire to look and feel like her true feminine self while continuing the strength training that empowers her. Transformer has maintained a healthy lead as the favourite Canadian film in the Audience Award race for the duration of the festival.

The Lindalee Tracey Award went to Fazila Amiri and Tim Tracey. The award honours the late filmmaker by supporting emerging filmmakers with a passion for documentary and socially conscious storytelling.

Jamie Miller’s Prince’s Tale scooped the prize for Best Canadian Short Documentary with its striking portrait of a burn survivor who channels his pain into art. The jury called Prince’s Tale “the kind of documentary we don’t see enough of—an honest portrait in which the subject has agency to choose where his story begins and where it doesn’t end.” The film briefly enjoyed a #1 spot in the overall Audience Award rankings at the midpoint of the festival when it dethroned Mr. Rogers doc Won’t You Be My Neighbour? and debuted at #1. The jury gave an honourable mention to Christian Borys and Marta Iwanek’s short Vika.

On the international front, Danish director Christian Einshøj won the Best International Short Doc award for Haunted. The film explores a ghost story that haunts the filmmaker’s childhood home.

Under recent rule changes from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Prince’s Tale and Haunted now quality for the Oscar for Best Documentary, Short Subject without having to complete the traditional (and costly) theatrical run required for eligibility.

The Best International Feature Documentary Award went to We Could Be Heroes directed by Hind Bensari. The film, a co-production between Denmark, Tunisia, Morocco, and Qatar, offers a portrait of Moroccan Paralympic gold medalist Azzedine Nouiri who is denied the support and glory his country promised when he returns home. The Special Jury Prize for International Feature Documentary offered a tie between Shameela Seedat’s Whispering Truth to Power and Corrado Punzi’s Wind of Swabia, while the Emerging International Filmmaker Award went to Elan Bogarín and Jonathan Bogarín for 306 Hollywood. Jill Magid received an honourable mention for her wild and brilliant The Proposal. The prize for Best Mid-Length Documentary went to the Italian film The Call by Enrico Maisto.

Previously announced career honours went to Barbara Kopple with the Outstanding Achievement Award, John Walker with the Focus On award, Ina Fichman with the Don Haig Award, and Cara Mertes with the Doc Mogul Award.

The awards presentation gave out over $85,000 to the distinguished filmmakers. Audience Award winners will be announced on Sunday and Monday.

Hot Docs runs April 26 to May 6. Please visit hotdocs.ca for more info.

Visit the POV Hot Docs Hub for more coverage from this year’s festival!