Hot Docs Forum, Deal Maker, and Short Film Pitch Winners

By Pat Mullen

The hotly attened Hot Docs Forum and Hot Docs Deal Maker events concluded yesterday with the announcement of the winning projects. This year’s industry component of Hot Docs Forum, the largest event in North America for key players and decision makers in the documentary scene, saw 20 projects representing 20 countries presented at the Forum to over 475 key funders and decision makers. At Hot Docs Deal Maker, 60 projects were pitched to 65 buyers at approximately 700 meetings.

The inaugural firstlook program’s top prize of $75,000 CDN was awarded to 93QUEEN from director Paula Eiselt, which profiles a group of Hasidic Brooklyn women aiming to break the glass ceiling and become the first all-female volunteer ambulance corps in New York City. The runner-up was The Feeling of Being Watched by Assia Boundaoui with a prize of $25,000. The firstlook program is a new endeavour to support documentary through philanthropic donations.

Blue Box, a Canadian-Israeli co-production, won the Corus-Hot Docs Forum Pitch Prize and received a prize of $10,000. Blue Box is about the foundation of Israel and was deemed the best Canadian pitch by international buyers attending the Forum. The film is directed by Michal Weits, produced by Assaf Amir and is co-produced by Ina Fichman at Intuitive Pictures and Ira Levy at Breakthrough Entertainment.

The Cuban Hat award went 306 Hollywood, directed by Elan and Jonathan Bogarín and pitched by Judit Stalter, and Elan and Jonathan Bogarín. The contest offering hard cash with no strings attached collected $1238.35 CDN, $434.71 USD, €111, 100 Afghani AFN, 20 Chinese Yuan, 10 Argentine Pesos, 3 business cards and (naturally) 2 TTC tokens in the pass the hat spirit of the prize. Hot Docs will match the total Canadian and American dollar amount of $1,673.06, but filmmakers must fight over who gets the return trip along the Bloor Line.

“The 2017 Hot Docs Forum has been a spectacular success! I am in awe of the courage expressed by our filmmakers and the generosity of spirit from our decision makers,” said Hot Docs industry programmer and Forum producer Dorota Lech in a statement from the festival. “We cannot wait to see these projects on the big screen!”

On the short film front, Toronto filmmaker Sherien Barsoum won first prize for in the Short Film Pitch content for Ride for Promise. The pitch about a young black man’s journey cross Canada to overcome adversity netted a prize of $30,000. The Toronto trio of Stuart Coxe, Laurie Few, Colette Vosberg grabbed the runner-up prize pitch with their for Boko Haram: Between Good and Evil, while Nova Scotia’s Lorna Kirk landed in third place with her pitch for 36 Hitchin Road. The three films received at total of $75,000 in prize money, courtesy of BravoFACT. The Hot Docs Short Film Pitch jury consisted of Bob Culbert (Owner, Culbert Productions and Consulting), Craig Jackson (Filmmaker), and Olena Decock (Industry Conference Programmer, Hot Docs).

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