Hot Docs 2014 #11: Award Winners and Final Thoughts

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Hot Docs 2014 is a wrap, and the numbers are all in: audiences totaled somewhere in the 192,000 range. There were more than 450 public screenings, 197 films, 176 visiting filmmakers and some 2,300+ industry delegates taking part in the festival’s special industry programming. What was once a quaint little event has exploded into a global marketplace and must-attend festival for documentary fans and filmmakers alike. Awesome!

The awards have also all been handed out. Last Friday, the majority of the honours – including best Canadian documentary (Out of Mind, Out of Sight), best international documentary (Waiting for August) and best short documentary (Ghost Train) – were announced. You can find the full list of award winners here.

Then, earlier today, the much-anticipated Audience Award winner was revealed: The Backward Class. Runners-up included many of the films I enjoyed most at the fest this year, among them: Keep On Keepin’ On, Meet the Patels and The Case Against 8. For a full list of the films audiences loved most, click here.

Once that Audience Award is announced, I know the fest is really, truly, officially over for the year.

For me, Hot Docs 2014 was the best yet – and I don’t say that in the same way that the IOC president declares each successive Olympic Games “the _____ yet.” I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: I love this festival! Every single second of it… even when that second involves chastising a line cutter or asking yet another clueless git in the dark to turn off their phone and its blinding blue light.

Spending 10 days immersed in documentary films, alongside documentary-loving audiences and in the presence of documentary filmmakers is heaven. It’s nourishment for the brain, the heart and the soul. I left this year’s fest feeling smarter, better informed and actually motivated to take action – the film Just Eat It actually inspired me to check out (and buy from) the discounted-food section at the grocery store, and to not shun the less-than-perfect fruit in the produce aisles. It was a tangible change that was a direct result of seeing a film at Hot Docs!

I left the fest knowing who Sylvia Earle, Clark Terry, Ilona Smithkin, Jean Hill, Carroll Spinney, Kim Gruelle, Cenk Uygur and Louis Ortiz are. I walked away having “been” to places such as Syria, Libya, the deepest parts of the ocean and the most remote village in the mountains of Bhutan. I saw places I’d never seen, met people I’d never encountered before and discovered more about the world in which we all live.

Hanging out with my movie-going pals, Mario and Fernando, was also a blast. Without them, I wouldn’t have met Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami, and wouldn’t have chatted with Michael Gross. We compared notes about films, experiences and the increasing number of seemingly manners-less audience members, and it’s always great to have peeps with whom to stand in line or share a snack. Thanks, guys!

I love listening to smart people talk about smart things, so the multitude of Q&As were the icing on the fest-going cake. As mentioned in previous entries this year, Myrocia, Angie, Sarafina and newly minted kick-ass moderator Gabor Pertic, who came out of nowhere to be one of the most delightful and charming moderators at this year’s event, are all excellent. Congratulations!

I’m always sad when Hot Docs ends because I know how much I’ll miss all of the wonderful things (and people) I’ve just mentioned. But I also know it’s only another 11 months and 20-ish days until we get to dive right back in again.

Until next year, then!


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