‘Maxima’ Wins Hot Docs Audience Award, ‘Prey’ is Top Canadian Doc


By Pat Mullen

Maxima stood strong to the end. Claudia Sparrow’s inspiring film about Peruvian farmer Máxima Acuña, who took a stand against a multi-billion dollar American mine company that threatened her family and her livelihood, took the top spot as the overall favourite in the race for the Hot Docs Audience Award. Maxima took an early lead when it ousted Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind on the second day of the festival, but regained and held the lead for the back half of the fest. Votes were drawn from a record-breaking audience of 228,000 attendees.

“The Hot Docs audience award means the world to us, it’s the greatest validation that Máxima is not alone and that people care about her cause and that they are ready to stand by her side,” said director Claudia Sparrow in a statement. “Máxima’s fight is far from over, but this recognition will help us push the film forward and hopefully bring more awareness to Máxima’s story. We couldn’t be more grateful for all the love and support we have received at Hot Docs.”

Announced on Sunday, Matt Gallagher’s Prey won the Canadian Audience Award and a cash prize of $50,000. The film tells the story of a landmark court decision against the Catholic Church for systemic coverups of sexual abuse.

St. Louis Superman was voted the audience’s favourite short while Beloved was the highest vote-getter among the midlength features.

The final top 20 for the Hot Docs Audience Award are as follows:

1. MAXIMA (D: Claudia Sparrow; USA)
2. PREY (D: Matt Gallagher; Canada)
3. WILLIE (D: Laurence Mathieu-Leger; USA, Canada)
4. ASK DR. RUTH (D: Ryan White; USA)
5. FOR SAMA (D: Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts; UK, USA, Syria)
6. OUR DANCE OF REVOLUTION (D: Phillip Pike; Canada)
7. THERE ARE NO FAKES (D: Jamie Kastner; Canada)
8. GODS OF MOLENBEEK (D: Reetta Huhtanen; Finland)
9. SHELLA RECORD – A REGGAE MYSTERY (D: Chris Flanagan; Canada)
10. GORDON LIGHTFOOT: IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND (D: Joan Tosoni, Martha Kehoe; Canada)
11. KILLING PATIENT ZERO (D: Laurie Lynd; Canada)
12. KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE (D: Rachel Lears; USA)
14. KIFARU (D: David Hambridge; USA, Kenya)
15. SEA OF SHADOWS (D: Richard Ladkani; Austria)
16. LAST BREATH (D: Alex Parkinson, Richard da Costa; UK, Sweden)
17. SEAHORSE (D: Jeanie Finlay; UK)
18. HAYDEE AND THE FLYING FISH (D: Pachi Bustos; Chile, Brazil)
19. #FEMALE PLEASURE (D: Barbara Miller; Switzerland, Germany)
20. DEAR BROTHER (D: Julia Horn; Germany)

Top 5 Short Films

  1. St. Louis Superman
  2. Gloria’s Call
  3. Take Me to Prom
  4. Uncaged: A Stand-In Story
  5. A 3 Minute Hug

Top 5 Mid-Length Films

  1. Beloved
  2. Who Let the Dogs Out
  3. “I Told My Mum I Was Going on an R.E. Trip…”
  4. El Toro
  5. Your Last Walk in the Mosque

Top Films by Program
Animal Magnetism: Kifaru
Artscapes: There Are No Fakes
Canadian Spectrum: Prey
International Spectrum: For Sama
Made In Italy: Alla Salute
Making Believe: Bellingcat – Truth in a Post-Truth World
Nightvision: Who Let the Dogs Out
Persister: Maxima
Special Presentations: Willie
The Changing Face of Europe: Seahorse
World Showcase: Gods of Molenbeek

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