Hot Docs to Spotlight Rosie Dransfeld and Steve James at 2016 Festival

A still from Rosie Dransfeld’s Who Cares?
Courtesy of the NFB.

By Pat Mullen

Hot Docs announced today that it will spotlight two acclaimed filmmakers at the 2016 edition of the festival. The recipient for this year’s Focus On retrospective, which spotlights a mid-career Canadian filmmaker, is Gemini Award-winning filmmaker Rosie Dransfeld and the honouree for the 2016 Outstanding Achievement Award at Hot Docs 2016 is acclaimed American filmmaker Steve James. As recipients for these honours, Dransfeld and James will have a retrospective showcase of their work at Hot Docs this year.

Rosie Dransfeld.

Doc fans best know Rosie Dransfeld for her provocative and hard-hitting cinema verité that shines a light on marginalized characters. “Sometimes it takes an outsider to show us our own blind spots as a society, and to give a voice to those too often ignored,” says Hot Docs director of programming Shane Smith in a statement from the festival. “Rosie Dransfeld’s deeply humane films shine a light on the forgotten and the marginalized, her verité filmmaking sensitively revealing their resilience and resolve. We’re excited to be highlighting her rich body of work at Hot Docs this year.” Dransfeld’s credits include Anti-Social Limited (2014), which offers a portrait of an ex-con with anti-social personality disorder and psychopathic tendencies getting a new start on life, and Who Cares (2012), which follows two Edmonton prostitutes. Both films are Hot Docs alumni. Her film Broke won Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program at the 2010 Gemini Awards.

This year’s Outstanding Achievement Award recipient, Steve James, is one of America’s most acclaimed documentary filmmakers working today. He is best known for his ground-breaking and Oscar-nominated film Hoop Dreams, which Roger Ebert called the best film of 1994. James most recently directed the award-winning feature Life Itself about the prolific film critic. Life Itself was named the best documentary of 2014 by the Critics’ Choice Awards, the Producers Guild of America, the National Board of Review, and numerous film critics groups including the Washing, Denver, and Online Film Critics Society.

James’ other credits include The Interrupters (2011), The War Tapes (2006), and Steve (2002). James has produced docs for thirty years with the production company Kartemquin Films.

Additionally, this year’s ‘Made in’ programme at Hot Docs spotlights the work of Australian documentary filmmakers. Hot Docs runs April 28 to May 8, 2016.