Is My Living in Vain | Hot Docs

Is My Living in Vain Takes Hot Docs Audience Award Lead

Without Precedent: The Supreme Life of Rosalie Abella tops Rogers Audience Award rankings for Canadian features

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The Hot Docs Audience Award rankings have a shake-up in their second day of release! Is My Living in Vain debuts in the top spot in the latest update of the audience votes. Directed by Ufuoma Essi, the 41-minute mid-length work explores historical, social, and spiritual connections between Black church communities in the United States and the United Kingdom. The film had its world premiere yesterday at Hot Docs in the World Showcase programme.

The audience at the Is My Living in Vain premiere clearly got their money’s worth, moreover, as the film debuting in the runner-up spot, By Water, premiered alongside it yesterday. By Water is an animated short film directed by Iyabo Kwayana. The film considers the strength of a bond between brothers.

Holding the top spots as feature-length films for the Hot Docs Audience Award, however, are yesterday’s leaders Fauna and 20 Days in Mariupol, which dropped to third and fourth, respectively.

Debuting in the top spot for the Rogers Audience Award for Best Canadian Feature, meanwhile, is Without Precedent: The Supreme Life of Rosalie Abella. Directed by Barry Avrich, the film profiles Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella, Canada’s first Jewish Supreme Court judge. The film premiered last night as part of the Scotiabank Big Ideas series at Hot Docs with “Canada’s RBG” in attendance. The winner of the Rogers Audience Award gets a cash prize of $50,000. Without Precedent sits in sixth place overall in the rankings. (As a series, Lac-Mégantic is not eligible for the Rogers prize.)

This year, Hot Docs changed its voting to electronic ballots. Festival attendees may scan a QR code at a screening and rate the film from 1 to 5. Voting closes thirty minutes after the screening ends.

The Hot Docs Audience Award rankings for May 2 are:


  1. Is My Living in Vain
  2. By Water
  3. Fauna
  4. 20 Days in Mariupol
  5. Lac-Mégantic – This Is Not an Accident
  6. Without Precedent: The Supreme Life of Rosalie Abella
  7. Someone Lives Here
  8. Angel Applicant
  9. Seven Winters in Tehran
  10. It’s Only Life After All
  11. Non-Aligned: Scenes from the Labudovic Reels
  12. The Deepest Breath
  13. Upstream
  14. Allihopa: The Dalkurd Story
  15. Aitamaako’tamisskapi Natosi: Before the Sun
  16. Because We Have Each Other
  17. Silvicola
  18. The Stroll
  19. Soviet Barbara, the Story of Ragnar Kjartansson in Moscow
  20. Who’s Afraid of Nathan Law?

Get more coverage from this year’s festival here.

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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