Mila Aung-Thwin is the winner of the Don Haig Award this year at Hot Docs. He is the third member of Montreal’s EyeSteelFilm to take the prize after Daniel Cross and Bob Moore received the honour in 2017 and 2020, respectively. The Don Haig Award recognizes an independent Canadian producer with a film at the festival for his or her body of work and history of mentorship. The award carries a cash prize of $5000.
This year, Aung-Thwin serves as the producer and editor of Midwives, directed by Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing. The co-production is an intimate observational portrait of two women—one Buddhist and one Muslim—working in a makeshift clinic in Myanmar, tending to women amid a growing backdrop of cultural divides. Midwives won a special prize at Sundance for verité filmmaking. (Read more about the film in our interview with Aung-Thwin and Hlaing from Sundance.) Aung-Thwin also produced Hot Docs 2020 opening night film Softie, directed by Sam Soko, which profiled the titular Kenyan activist and politician.
“It’s a great honour to receive this award, and doubly so because it’s linked to our film Midwives,” said Aung-Thwin in a statement from Hot Docs. “I’ve been producing for more than 20 years, and all this time I’ve wanted to make a film in Myanmar. I couldn’t be prouder of the result, and I want to thank my colleagues at EyeSteelFilm for believing in this film and producing with me.”
Through his work at EyeSteelFilm, Aung-Thwin has established a history of growing our understanding of Canadian film through co-production and by mentoring filmmakers from around the world, telling global stories through a range of perspectives both Canadian and international. Among his credits is the acclaimed Last Train Home (2009), directed by Lixin Fan, which the Genie Award for Best Documentary, along with three Cinema Eye Honours, two Emmy Awards, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s documentary prize, and a Directors’ Guild of America nomination. Aung-Thwin also produced Yung Chang’s acclaimed breakthrough doc Up the Yangtze (2008), which won the Genie, two Cinema Eye Honours, and prizes at festivals worldwide. Aung-Twin’s credits as producer also include Wintopia (2020), Let There Be Light (2017), Inside Lara Roxx (2011), and I Am the Blues (2015), which all screened at the festival.
Aung-Thwin will receive the Don Haig Award at the Hot Docs Awards presentation on Saturday, May 7, at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 10:30 am. Other previous winners of the Don Haig Award include Lalita Krishna (2021), Peter Raymont (2019), Ina Fichman (2018), Ed Barreveld (2016), Anne Pick (2015), Michael McNamara (2014), Merit Jensen Carr (2013), Mia Donovan (2012), Rama Rau (2011), Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji (2010), Brett Gaylor (2009), Yung Chang (2008), Hubert Davis (2007), and Guylaine Dionne (2006).