‘Midwives’, ‘Colour of the Wind’ Lead Hot Docs Forum Winners

Hot Docs Forum 2019
Photo by Joseph Michael Photography


By Pat Mullen

Over $83,000 was awarded to doc projects at this year’s Hot Docs Forum. The festival announced the winners of the Forum pitches late last night.

Midwives, pitched by director Hnin (aka Snow) Ei Hlaing and producers Ulla Lehmann and Mila Aung-Thwin, took first prize in the first look program and received $30,000 in support. Midwives tells the incredible story of two midwives who work side by side in a makeshift medical clinic. The doc is a co-production between Canada’s EyeSteelFilm and Germany’s AMA FILM GmbH and Myanmar’s Snow Film. EyeSteelFilm also received support from the Hot Docs Partners initiative for the film Influence.

The runner-up for the first look prize is Colour of the Wind, which was pitched by director Claire Sanford, producer Adam Pajot Gendron and co-producer Dagmar Jacobsen. The film receives $20,000 in support. Colour of the Wind is a cinematic portrait of monstrous dust storms that travel from the deserts of China to the shores of California, and the people in their path. The doc is also a Canadian co-production with Canada’s Tortuga Films, Germany’s Alias film und sprachtransfer GmbH, and Finland’s Mouka Filmi Oy producing. The first look fund is a curated program that allows documentary supporters and investors to vote on the top pitches.

$20,000 in support also went with the “Surprise Prize” to Twice Colonized. The project was pitched by director Lin Alluna and producers Alethea Arnaquq-Baril and Emile Hertling Péronard. The film reveals one of the most important voices of the Indigenous Arctic, Inuit activist Aaju Peter, who takes us behind the curtains of her political work, sharing the personal battles that motivate her. Peter previously inspired audiences as a key subject in Arnaquq-Baril’s Angry Inuk, which won the Audience Award at Hot Docs 2016. The doc is a co-production between Greenland’s Ánorâk Film, Denmark’s Ánorâk Film Denmark, and Canada’s Unikkaat Studios. The “Surprise Prize” was presented on behalf of Toronto documentary supporters by Elizabeth Radshaw. Twice Colonized also received $10,000 from the Corus-Hot Docs Forum Pitch Prize, which awards the best Canadian pitch as voted on by international attendees of the Forum.

The Promise Prize, a new addition to this year’s Forum, went to Jade Baxter, who receives $1000 in support. The Promise Prize awarded to a current Doc Accelerator or CrossCurrents Canada fellow who is a racialized emerging Canadian filmmaker who is recognized for their creative voice and commitment to building relationships. Baxter is a member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation from Skuppah.

The Forum’s most idiosyncratic award, the Cuban Hat Award, went to Socks on Fire: Uncle John and the Copper Headed Water Rattlers. The American project was pitched by director Bo McGuire and producer Tatiana Bears and offers a cinematic love letter from a poet to his grandmother while a war over her estate wages on between his aunt and drag queen uncle. The Cuban Hat Award is a “pass the hat” style prize in which Forum attendees chip in. This year’s cash prize offered $896.65 CDN, $135.80 USD, €40.1, 18 Turkish Lire, 5 British Pounds, and 1,000 Chilean Pesos, which amounts to $1154.70 CDN based on today’s exchange rate. Hot Docs will contribute an additional $1000 CDN. This year’s hat offerings also include two TTC tokens (collector’s items!) and a tin of unwanted ginger mints in addition to two All-Access Passes to Hot Docs 2020; one Observer Pass for IDFA; two All-Access Passes to RIDM and several offers of production, post-production, and professional services. The Cuban Hat Award is voted on by Forum attendees.

Forum Prizes were awarded to projects pitched from a pool of 21 teams that presented their films to a room of over 300 leaders, funders, and decision makers from the documentary field.

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