Festivals, Events and Awards

Festivals on both sides of the Pacific carry on in spite of SARS scare; Tribeca pulls Comandante from its schedule
April 24, 2003

The organizers of Hot Docs, the Canadian international documentary festival (April 25 to May 5), have pledged the show will go on as planned, despite traveler concerns over severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Toronto. ‘We have had a few cancellations – two or three filmmakers and two or three broadcasters,’ executive director Chris McDonald says. ‘It looks like our industry delegate numbers are approximately on target. I will not be surprised to see our numbers go down marginally… It’s certainly not going to help.’ Organizers have sent out emails to delegates referring them to the Health Canada and Ontario Ministry of Health websites, which insist that traveling to Toronto remains safe. (Mark Dillon, Playback)

Meanwhile, amid a health crisis that has emptied normally crowded streets, the 27th Hong Kong International Film Festival (April 8 to 23) went on as scheduled. The high number of SARS sufferers in the city had a devastating effect on the fest – according to news reports, movie houses played to half-empty theaters at the beginning of the festival. The humanitarian award for best documentary was presented to Clown In Kabul, by Italy’s Enzo Balestrieri and Stefano Moser.

The upcoming Tribeca Film Festival (May 3 to 11) in New York, U.S., has pulled Oliver Stone’s doc about Cuban President Fidel Castro, Comandante, from its lineup. As reported in the April 17 RealScreen Plus, HBO withdrew the film from its May schedule. According to a festival spokesperson, the pay-TV channel asked TFF organizers to do the same.

The fourth World Education Market (WEM) will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, from May 20 to 23, 2003. The conference provides the opportunity for the education community to find out about the latest in content and technology. New this year is the Broadcasters’ Village, which was launched last month at MIPTV. Sponsored by broadcasters BBC Worldwide, France 5 and AITED, the ‘village’ will be an exhibition space where broadcasters and producers can meet, network, and buy and sell educational programming. Visit for further information.

The Full Frame Documentary Festival in Durham, U.S., ended on April 13. Among the award winners were Etre et Avoir (To Be and To Have), by France’s Nicolas Philibert (grand jury award) and Onibus 174 (Bus 174), by Brazil’s José Padilha (Charles E. Guggenheim emerging artist award).

A number of awards were handed out at the One World Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (April 8 to 16, 2003) in Prague, Czech Republic. In the main competition, prize winners included Love and Diane, by U.S.-based Jennifer Dworkin (best film); Purity: Breaking the Code of Silence, by Israel’s Zuria Anat (best director); and The Last Just Man, by Canada’s Steven Silver (special jury prize). Also announced at the festival was the establishment of the Visegrad Library, an initiative aimed at promoting regional doc-making and raising awareness about films made in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. For more information, go to

Editing house Henninger Media Services awarded US$6,000 worth of editing time and services to John Marshall at the annual DC Independent Film Festival in Washington, D.C., last month. Marshall directed The Kalahari Family – Death by Myth, the winner of the fest’s world cinema award.

American filmmaker Patricia Lynn won the best documentary feature prize for Discovering Dominga at this year’s Bermuda International Film Festival, which took place from April 11 to 17. Seven films competed in the documentary category, including The Nazi Officer’s Wife, the latest doc from U.S.-based filmmaker Liz Garbus (The Farm). The documentary jury awarded a special mention to The Other Final, by Johan Kramer of the Netherlands. The runners-up in the audience category were docs Partners of the Heart, by Andrea Kalin of the U.S., and Only the Strong Survive by fellow Americans D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Reg Grundy, founder of influential prodco Grundy Worldwide, will be presented with a special award at this year’s Monte-Carlo Television Fesitval (June 30 to July 5). Grundy is considered a pioneer of international TV formats, having developed such game shows as Wheel of Fortune and Concentration for Australian television. He eventually established a relationship with an American company, Goodson-Todman, with which Grundy’s company adapted U.S. shows for Australia. Grundy Worldwide was sold to Pearson Television (now Fremantle Media) in 1995.


The Rhode Island International Film Festival (August 5 to 10, 2003) is calling for submissions to its 7th edition. The deadline for entries is May 15, but late submissions will be accepted until June 1. Visit to enter your film.

Documentary submissions are currently being accepted to the 11th Hamptons International Film Festival (October 22 to 26, 2003) in the U.S. A variety of awards are available, including the Golden Starfish award for the director of the best American independent doc. The early deadline is May 16 and the final deadline is June 13. Further information can be found at

GlobalFestUN, a festival that showcases films that grapple with human rights, social and environmental (among other) issues, is calling for entries, including docs. For more information about the film festival held in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, U.S., visit

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.