‘Transformer’ Pulls One-Two Punch with Hot Docs Audience Awards


By Pat Mullen

Transformer stood strongest by the end of Hot Docs! Michael Del Monte’s powerful portrait of transgender bodybuilder Janae Kroc scored both the Rogers Canadian Audience Award and the overall Audience Award from the festival. The Canadian announcement came Sunday night at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema where Del Monte was presented with a cheque for $50,000 by Robin Mirsky, Executive Director of the Rogers Group of Funds for being the favourite as determined by the viewers. An encore presentation of Transformer followed with a Skype Q&A with Kroc and Del Monte in attendance. (Read more about Transformer and other trans stories in the new issue of POV.)

Transformer held the top spot in the hunt for the Rogers Canadian Audience Award for the duration of the festival, but climbed into the overall lead as Canadian titles were masked to preserve an element of surprise. It was announced as the overall Audience Award winner today in a statement from the festival. The runner-up spot also went to a Canadian film as director Matthew Shoychet’s acclaimed The Accountant of Auschwitz fended off Oscar winner Morgan Neville’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? to come in at #2. Neighbor held the top spot early in the festival, but had little to gain with the award as one of the only films at the festival with a major distributor and a theatrical release set for June.

Hot Docs featured record-breaking audience numbers with an estimated 223,000 people attending 471 public screening and with a bustling marketplace drawing an international crowd from the documentary community. With its 25th anniversary, Hot Docs proved itself the best international film festival in Toronto.

“Thank you to all of the exceptionally talented filmmakers who helped us celebrate our 25th anniversary Festival this year,” said Brett Hendrie, Hot Docs’ executive director, in a statement from the festival. “The stories you told captivated and inspired Festival audiences, further demonstrating the importance of documentary film and its ability to strengthen our connection to the people and world that surrounds us.”

The Top 20 docs in the hunt for the Audience Award are:

  1. Transformer
  2. The Accountant of Auschwitz
  3. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  4. The Game Changers
  5. On Her Shoulders
  6. Bathtubs over Broadway
  7. The Silver Branch
  8. The Oslo Diaries
  9. Pick of the Litter
  10. The Silence of Others
  11. United Skates
  12. Primas
  13. Letter from Masanjia
  14. This Mountain Life
  15. Mr. SOUL!
  16. Laila at the Bridge
  17. The Guardians
  18. Warrior Women
  19. Gurrumul

Additionally, the audience favourite for short docs was Jamie Miller’s beautiful film Prince’s Tale, which also won the jury prize for Best Canadian Short on Friday, while Nitesh Anjaan’s Dreaming Murakami was named favoruite mid-length doc, and Milica Zec’s topped the DOC-X projects.

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