Director Ngardy Conteh George and subject Lennox-in Barbuda | Photo by Yvano Wickham-Edwards

This Land of Ours, Arrest the Midwife Top Hot Docs Forum Winners

Forum awards nearly $50,000 in cash prizes

4 mins read

This Land of Ours and Arrest the Midwife topped the winners at this year’s Hot Docs Forum. The marquee industry event wrapped its two-day summit with nearly $50,000 in cash and prizes awarded to documentary projects. This Land of Ours won the CMF-Hot Docs Forum Canadian Pitch Prize, presented in partnership with the Canada Media Fund, which carries a cash prize of $10,000 awarded to the best Canadian pitch. This Land of Ours is directed by Ngardy Conteh George, who produced the film with Alison Duke as part of their collaboration at OYA Media Group.  Winners were determined from 22 pitches.

The win marked a good week for Duke, who was previously announced as the recipient of this year’s Don Haig Award. The honour awards an established Canadian independent producer with a history of mentorship. Duke and George also produced this year’s Hot Docs selection A Mother Apart, directed by Laurie Townshend.

“As we celebrate 25 years of the Hot Docs Forum, we are more confident than ever in its enduring role as the premier platform for financing and talent discovery,” said Elizabeth Radshaw, Industry Programs Director, in a statement from Hot Docs. “We take great pride in witnessing how our flagship event remains a gathering hub for our community, fostering the reimagining of the marketplace of the future.”

On the international front, the American documentary Arrest the Midwife (working title) won the first look Pitch Prize, which carries a cash purse of $20,000. Directed by Elaine Epstein and produced by Epstein, Robin Hessman, and Ruth Ann Harnisch, the film chronicles the fight for reproductive rights in Amish and Mennonite communities. The first look projects give money directly to filmmakers from philanthropic supports and investors.

Also winning on the first look front with the second prize was Autumn of the Patriarch. The Norwegian-French-Finnish-Croatian doc considers how people survive Russia’s dictatorial killing machine. The doc is directed by Anna Bogoliubova with Torstein Grude Ruwê Yuxinawá, Oddleiv Vik, Raphael Pëlissou, Valérie Montmartin, Iikka Vehkalahti, and Sinisa Juricic producing. The film received $10,000. Netting $5,000 for third place, meanwhile, was Under the Flags, the Sun, directed by Juanjo Pereira, who serves as producer with Paula Zyngierman, Ivana Urízar, Gabriela Sabaté, and Leandro Listorti. A co-production between Paraguay and Argentina, the film also considers the impact of dictatorship with a look at the reign of Alfredo Stroessner.

“We are overwhelmed and overjoyed by the immense trust that our incredible cohort of filmmakers and decision makers have in Hot Docs to make co-production and co-financial connections and usher their films to audiences around the world,” said Dorota Lech, Industry Programmer and Forum Producer, in a statement. “Many thanks to the tenacious and encouraging voices heard throughout the room over two robust pitching days.”

Finally, the annual Cuban Hat Award, went to Anatomy of a Life, which was pitched by director Emma Francis-Snyder and producer Tiffany Fisher Love. The pitch promised a hybrid exploration of dying. The Cuban Hat Award, a long-standing tradition in which Forum attendees donate “pass the hat style” netted CAD 746.15, USD 192.12, € 15.95, 15 Colombian Pesos, 2,000 Hungarian Forint, 2,000 South Korean Won, 200 Ukrainian Hryvnia, 7,000 Indonesian Rupiah, 100 Danish Krone, and 30 Nicaraguan Cordoba. Hot Docs will match the total cash prizes, bringing the total amount to CAD 2,140. The prize also included two All-Access Passes to Hot Docs 2025, one pass to IDFA, and two passes to the Camden International Film Festival, among other gifts. Notably, the Hot Docs passes pledged for a 2025 passes may serve as a relief to Hot Docs attendees worrying about the festival’s future.

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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