The Hot Docs Audience Award race finally saw some movement with a major shuffle to close the festival. Philippe Falardeau’s Lac-Mégantic: This Is Not an Accident emerged as the overall favourite to win the Hot Docs Audience Award. The four-part doc series is a moving epic that explores the events that contributed to the inevitable tragedy that occurred when a rail train disaster devastated the small Quebec town in 2013. (Read more about the film in our interview with Falardeau and writer Nancy Guerin.)
The winner of the Rogers Audience Award for Canadian feature, meanwhile, went to Someone Lives Here. Directed by Zack Russell, Someone Lives Here observes Toronto’s growing housing crisis and the efforts of carpenter Khaleel Seivwright to build shelters for the homeless. The win for the Rogers Audience Award was announced last night in advance of a free screening of Someone Lives Here where Russell received a $50,000 cash prize courtesy of Rogers. (Read more about the film in our interview with Russell.) Someone Lives Here screens as part of the online festival until May 9, along with several other audience favourites. As a doc series, Lac-Mégantic was not eligible for the Rogers Audience Award.
Rounding out the top spots, meanwhile, was international favourite 20 Days in Mariupol. The documentary directed by Mstyslav Chernov takes audiences to the frontlines of Ukraine amid Russia’s violent invasion. It draws upon Chernov’s work as a video journalist to capture the full story that risks being lost amid misinformation campaigns. 20 Days in Mariupol previously won the Audience Award in the World Cinema Documentary competition at Sundance.
Among the juried award winners announced on Saturday, only Name Me Lawand, directed by Edward Lovelace, cracked the top twenty in the Hot Docs Audience Award rankings. Name Me Lawand tells the story of a deaf Kurdish boy living with his family in the UK and learning British Sign Language as his family faces deportation.
The big shake-up in the race, though, is for the mid-length doc Is My Living in Vain. The film by Ufuoma Essi held the number one spot for the duration of the festival, but fell off the list entirely following its encore screening on Saturday. Fellow list toppers Fauna and By Water also dropped out of the top 20 after holding the runner-up spots for the duration of the festival.
The final top 20 in the Hot Docs Audience Award rankings are:
- Lac-Mégantic – This Is Not an Accident
- Someone Lives Here – streaming until May 9
- 20 Days in Mariupol – streaming until May 9
- The American Gladiators Documentary – streaming until May 9
- Silent House – streaming until May 9
- Allihopa: The Dalkurd Story – streaming until May 9
- Non-Aligned: Scenes from the Labudović Reels
- The Stroll
- Angel Applicant – streaming until May 9
- Who’s Afraid of Nathan Law?
- Against the Tide
- Seven Winters in Tehran
- Eco-Hack! – streaming until May 9
- Name Me Lawand
- We Will Not Fade Away
- The Deepest Breath
- Hong Kong Mixtape – streaming until May 9
- El Equipo – streaming until May 9
- When Spring Came to Bucha – streaming until May 9
- Invisible Beauty