Peter Raymont to Receive Don Haig Award at Hot Docs

Peter Raymont

By Pat Mullen

Peter Raymont is this year’s recipient of the Don Haig Award at Hot Docs. The festival announced today that the director, producer, and White Pine Pictures co-founder would be honoured with the 14th annual award given to an independent producer with a feature film at the festival. Raymont’s White Pine Pictures produced two of the Special Presentations selections at Hot Docs this year, The Corporate Coup d’État and Toxic Beauty, the latter of which premiered last night to an enthusiastic response at the Scotiabank Big Ideas series. The Don Haig Award recognizes a Canadian filmmaker with a significant body of work and a history of mentoring Canadian filmmakers.

“I am deeply honoured to be this year’s recipient of the Don Haig Award,” said Peter Raymont in a statement from Hot Docs. “Don was a mentor and a good friend. I learned so much from him when I first moved to Toronto 40 years ago. I particularly remember his legendary maxim he’d recite when we said goodbye: ‘Keep smiling’.”

Raymont has over 100 credits to his name and has developed several significant films in the Canadian doc scene. He is best known for his 2004 film Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire, which profiled Canadian Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire and his experience leading the United Nations peacekeeping effort during the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Shake Hands with the Devil won numerous prizes including the Audience Award for World Cinema – Documentary at Sundance, the Directors Guild of Canada Award, a Gemini, and a News and Documentary Emmy Award.

Raymont’s films are often a mix of journalistic rigour and empathetic inquiries into human rights and social justice. He also documents the history of some of Canada’s most significant artists with personal films that explore the nation’s rich culture. As a director, Raymont’s films include The World is Watching (1988), which won the Genie Award for Best Short Documentary; A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman (2007), which won the Donald Brittain Award at the Geminis and the Directors Guild of Canada Award; and Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould (2009), directed with Michèle Hozer, which won the Gemini Award for Best Biography Documentary Program. As a producer, Raymont’s credits include the Roméo Dallaire portrait Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children (2012); Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr (2015), which was selected for TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten and won the Donald Brittain Award at the Canadian Screen Awards; and All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone (2016), which won two DGC awards and was nominated for three Canadian Screen Awards and a News and Documentary Emmy. Raymont is also a founder of the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC), which created Hot Docs and POV.

As part of this year’s award, Raymont will be presented with a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of the Don Haig Foundation and Telefilm Canada, at Friday’s awards ceremony. The pay-it-forward spirit of the award also invites Raymont to select an emerging filmmaker to receive a $5000 cash prize, courtesy of Telefilm Canada. Raymont’s selection is screenwriter and director Fazila Amiri, whose credits include Unknown Artist (2018) and the upcoming Songs She Sings in Shadows. Past winners of the Don Haig Award include Ina Fichman (2018); Daniel Cross (2017), Ed Barreveld (2016), Anne Pick (2015), Michael McNamara (2014).

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