Canadian festival Hot Docs has chosen American director Barbara Kopple as the recipient of its 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award, while Montreal-based documentary filmmaker John Walker will be honored with this year’s Focus On retrospective.
The Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award is presented annually in recognition of a filmmaker’s enduring contribution to the documentary form.
As part of the honor, Hot Docs will screen a retrospective of Kopple’s work during the 25th anniversary festival, which this year runs from April 26 to May 6, celebrating her distinguished 46-year filmmaking career.
Kopple’s filmography includes Harlan County, USA (1976), about a 1973 Kentucky coal miners’ strike, and American Dream (1991), which recounts the 1985-86 Hormel Foods strike in Minnesota. Kopple won Academy Awards for Best Feature Documentary for both docs. Her most recent documentary, A Murder in Mansfield, premiered at the 2017 DOC NYC Film Festival, and This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous, which she directed and produced, premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
Her additional feature film credits include Miss Sharon Jones! (2015), Bearing Witness (2005), Shut Up and Sing (2006), Running from Crazy (2013), Woodstock ’94 (1998) and Wild Man Blues (1997), among others.
“Barbara is a documentary force whose limitless ingenuity and passion have led her to create some of the most memorable, provocative and illuminating films of our time,” said Shane Smith, director of programming for Hot Docs, in a statement. “She is a trailblazer whose extensive body of work resonates with audiences spanning generations and tastes, and we’re honored to recognize Barbara’s exceptional career with the Outstanding Achievement Award at this year’s Festival.”
Walker, meanwhile, will be presented with this year’s Focus On retrospective, which showcases the work of a significant Canadian filmmaker.
Walker’s feature-length documentaries have received 19 nominations and awards from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, including the Donald Brittain Award for best social/political documentary.
Further documentary titles in Walker’s library include Strand-Under the Dark Cloth, The Fairy Faith, A Drummer’s Dream, Arctic Defenders, and Quebec My Country Mon Pays and Men of the Deeps, for which he received a 2004 Gemini Award for Best Performing Arts Documentary Program.
A founding member of the Documentary Organization of Canada, Walker has also crafted a number of films for British television, including the first two films in the BBC/October Films trilogy The Hand of Stalin; and Channel 4′s Hidden Children, Orphans of Manchuria and Distress Signals.
“A bold, uncompromising filmmaker, John has been a vital voice in Canadian documentary for many years, and his singular vision continues to yield thought-provoking perspectives on meaningful stories from around the world,” said Smith.
The exact films screening in both retrospectives will be announced in March.
Previous Outstanding Achievement Award honorees have included Tony Palmer (2017), Steve James (2016), Patricio Guzmán (2015), Adam Curtis (2014), Les Blank (2013), Michel Brault (2012), Terence Macartney-Filgate (2011), Kim Longinotto (2010), Alanis Obomsawin (2009), Richard Leacock (2008), Heddy Honigmann (2007), Werner Herzog (2006), Errol Morris (2005), Michael Maclear (2004), Nick Broomfield (2003), Frederick Wiseman (2002), D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus (2000) and Albert Maysles (1999).
Past Focus On honorees include Maya Gallus (2017), Rosie Dransfield (2016), Carole Laganière (2015), John Zaritsky (2014), Peter Mettler (2013), John Kastner (2012), Alan Zweig (2011), Tahani Rached (2010), Ron Mann (2009), Jennifer Baichwal (2008), Kevin McMahon (2007), Serge Giguère (2006), Larry Weinstein (2005), Nettie Wild (2004), Shelley Saywell (2003) and Zacharias Kunuk (2002).
The 2018 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival runs April 26 to May 6 in Toronto.