Alanis Obomsawin and Ron Mann will be honored for their decades of documentary making this spring at Hot Docs. Organizers said on Monday that Obomsawin will receive this year’s outstanding achievement award, while Mann will be the subject of the annual ‘Focus on’ retrospective.
The filmmakers are ‘in many ways poles apart as artists,’ said Hot Docs director of programming Sean Farnel, though ‘they share a pioneering spirit and punkish iconoclasm.’
The Mann retrospective will recount the Toronto filmmaker’s 25 years of docs on alternative cultures including 1988′s Comic Book Confidential, 1999′s marijuana-minded Grass and his latest, Know Your Mushrooms, about the world of fungi.
‘When I reached 50, my screenwriter friend Len Blum congratulated me at beating the odds,’ said Mann. ‘And I think Hot Docs is honoring me for essentially beating the highly stacked odds to make documentaries.’
‘I’m delighted of course and hope to do something special for the occasion,’ he added, such as restoring some of his earlier 16mm films such as Marsha Resnick’s Bad Boys, about the New York-based photographer, and Flak, which ‘was made over thirty three years ago – when I had dark hair.’
Obomsawin’s win will also include a retrospective of her award-winning films, devoted to social issues concerning Canada’s First Nations communities.
A passionate advocate of First Nations people, Obomsawin has, since 1967′s Christmas At Moose Factory, directed 35 films including Richard Cardinal: Cry From a Diary of a Métis Child, which helped change government policy regarding First Nations child welfare, and Waban-Aki: People From Where the Sun Rises in 2006, about her own Abenaki community.
Past outstanding achievement recipients include Richard Leacock and Errol Morris while past Focus On honorees are Jennifer Baichwal and Larry Weinstein.
The films included in each retrospective will be announced in March. Hot Docs Film Fest runs from April 30-May 10.