Iris Ng and Raoul Peck | Hot Docs

Iris Ng, Raoul Peck to Receive Hot Docs Spotlights

New Festival Favourites programme brings hits from the circuit

8 mins read

Hot Docs will celebrate the careers of cinematographer Iris Ng and director Raoul Peck at this year’s festival. Ng and Peck serve as the subjects of the Focus On and Outstanding Achievement Awards programmes respectively, as per a release today from Hot Docs. The former celebrates the career of a Canadian industry peer while the latter highlights an international veteran.

Ng is something of a rarity in Canadian film, having forged a distinctive eye across a diverse body of work. Her credits include Sarah Polley’s multi-award-winning Stories We Tell (2012) and the hit Netflix true crime series Making a Murderer (2015). Several Hot Docs openers credit Ng as cinematographer including Twice Colonized (2023), A.rtificial I.mmortality (2021), and The League of Exotique Dancers (2016). Other acclaimed titles on her resume include Shirkers (2017), The Apology (2016), and One of Ours (2021).

Peck, meanwhile, is best known for his Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro (2016), an examination of James Baldwin’s enduing legacy that also won the People’s Choice Award for Documentary at the Toronto International Film Festival. Peck’s body of work frequently tackles issues of race and systemic inequity, as seen in films such as Lumumba (2000), Murder in Pacot (2014), Exterminate All the Brutes (2021), and Silver Dollar Road (2023). Peck will attend this year’s festival and present a curated selection of his work. Titles for both the Focus On and Outstanding Achievement Award programmes will be announced leading up to the festival.

“It is a great pleasure to present Raoul Peck with the Outstanding Achievement Award at our forthcoming Festival,” said Hot Docs President Marie Nelson via a release. “Mr. Peck’s astounding body of work embodies the very essence of documentary filmmaking: bold, impactful, advocating for social change, inspiring action, fostering vital conversations, and so much more. It is our honour to celebrate his fearless voice and significant contributions to our industry.”

Additionally, Hot Docs announced the first update in a wave of programming changes for this year’s festival. Beginning with the new programme Festival Favourites, Hot Docs will showcase top docs from the circuit. Titles in the inaugural edition of Festival Favourites include Angela Patton and Natalie Rae’s Daughters, which depicts the preparations for a daddy-daughter dance for incarcerated men and their children. The film won the Audience Award for U.S. Documentary at Sundance and was votes the overall festival favourite. Netflix scooped up the acclaimed doc among Sundance’s notable sales. Also hitting Hot Docs is Sally Aitken’s well-reviewed Sundance documentary Every Little Thing, which profiles a one-woman volunteer bird rescue and rehabilitation centre.

Joining the Sundance titles is Oksana Karpovych’s Intercepted, which premiered to strong word at the Berlin Film Festival for its presentation of the secret words of Russian soldiers invading Ukraine. The doc won the CMF-Hot Docs Forum Canadian Pitch Prize at last year’s Hot Docs Forum. Coming to Hot Docs from last year’s IDFA are A Band of Dreamers and a Judge and Son of the Mullah, which bring stories from the Middle East to the festival.

Today’s announcements come of the heels of last week’s first wave of Special Presentations titles. They also follow recent headlines made as Nelson sounded the alarm bell for Hot Docs’ future, saying that funders need to step up to help ensure the festival’s survival. Hot Docs is among a growing number of arts organizations feeling the pinch long-term as COVID relief dries up but audience and sponsor habits have yet to return to normal.

Hot Docs is expected to announce its complete line-up on March 26 with the festival slated to run April 25 to May 5.


The full list of Festival Favourites announced today for Hot Docs is as follows.


A Band of Dreamers and a Judge
D: Hesam Eslami | P: Etienne De Ricaud, Hesam Eslami | Iran, France | 2023 | 80 min | Canadian Premiere
According to legend, the mountains of northern Iran are full of buried treasure. Gangs of prospectors scale and drill their treacherous slopes in the hopes of discovering ancient gold and pottery, while a local judge is determined to end their illegal looting.

Daughter of Genghis
D: Kristoffer Juel Poulsen, Christian Als | P: Andreas Dalsgaard | Denmark, Sweden, France | 2023 | 85 min | International Premiere
A violent, Mongolian, female nationalist fights for her motherland, conducting sting operations and brothel raids, but in her fight for idealism, she has neglected her son. Can she find redemption by embracing motherhood?

D: Angela Patton, Natalie Rae | P: Lisa Mazzotta, Natalie Rae, Justin Benoliel, Mindy Goldberg, Sam Bisbee, Kathryn Everett, Laura Choi Raycroft, James Cunningham | USA | 2023 | 106 min | International Premiere
Four young girls prepare for a special Daddy-Daughter Dance in a Washington, DC prison. Cameras capture the first physical touch these girls will have with their incarcerated fathers as part of a groundbreaking program in this Sundance Audience Award–winning film.

Every Little Thing
D: Sally Aitken | P: Bettina Dalton, Anna Godas, Oli Harbottle | Australia | 2024 | 93 min | Canadian Premiere
A woman finds herself on a transformative journey as she nurtures wounded hummingbirds, unravelling a captivating and magical tale of love, fragility and healing amidst the sprawl of Los Angeles.

D: Oksana Karpovych | P: Rocío B. Fuentes, Giacomo Nudi, Pauline Tran Van Lieu, Lucie Rego, Darya Bassel, Olha Beskhmelnytsina | Canada, France, Ukraine | 2024 | 93 min | Canadian Premiere
Layered over the visible evidence of their destruction, covertly recorded conversations between Russian soldiers provide a shocking and revealing soundtrack of those who destroy amidst the futility and inhumanity of a prolonged war in Ukraine.

Son of the Mullah
D: Nahid Persson Sarvestani | P: Setareh Lundgren, Monica Hernandez Rejon | Sweden, France | 2023 | 100 min | North American Premiere
Journalist Ruhollah Zam, like many of his colleagues, reports on Iran from abroad. Relying on tips from unreliable and potentially compromised insiders, he risks life and limb to expose the Islamic Regime’s corruption, hypocrisy and money laundering in this all-too-real spy thriller.

This Is Going to Be Big
D: Thomas Charles Hyland | P: Josie Mason Campbell, Jim Wright, Catherine Bradbury | Australia | 2023 | 101 min | North American Premiere
Dreams and desires are confronted as a cast of neurodivergent teens prepare to come of age in their school’s time-travelling, John Farnham–themed musical. A funny and heart-warming peek behind the curtain with some banger songs.

Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, Xtra, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association and an international voter for the Golden Globe Awards.

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