Hot Docs names CrossCurrents, Blue Ice doc fund recipients

Canadian festival Hot Docs and the R & M Lang Foundation have named Tibetan filmmaker Tenzinsedon’s The Old Man as the recipient of the CrossCurrents Doc Fund production grant in ...
February 7, 2017

Canadian festival Hot Docs and the R & M Lang Foundation have named Tibetan filmmaker Tenzinsedon’s The Old Man as the recipient of the CrossCurrents Doc Fund production grant in its fourth round of disbursements.

Established in November 2013, the international production fund annually grants CAD$10,000 (US$7,600) with the aim of supporting short, interactive and experimental documentaries from emerging filmmakers working within communities whose perspectives have been underrepresented or marginalized.

In addition to a grant, director Tenzinsedon will receive a Hot Docs Fellowship, which includes travel, accommodation, and accreditation to the annual Hot Docs Festival, as well as enrollment in the Doc Accelerator program and mentorship initiatives.

Produced by Ming Liu, The Old Man chronicles an old man and his wife in the ancient city of Lhasa, the administrative capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, as they “struggle to defend their own small happiness” in the face of transformations in their hometown.

This year’s CrossCurrents Doc Fund Selection Committee was comprised of Robert Lang, president and executive producer of Kensington Communications; Stephanie Brown, senior producer at CBC Indigenous; Elizabeth Radshaw, industry programs director at Hot Docs; and Heidi Tao Yang, industry funds manager at Hot Docs.

The application process for the fifth round of funding will open late 2017.

“There were many strong doc concepts that we had to consider, but this one stood out for its timely story and intimate cinematic portrayal,” said Lang, Toronto-based documentary filmmaker and chair of the R & M Lang Foundation. “The selection committee loved Tenzinsedon’s approach of depicting the clash of traditional and contemporary values within a Tibetan culture in great upheaval.”

Elsewhere, Hot Docs has awarded development and production grants to eight African film projects via the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund in its sixth round of disbursements.

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and financier Blue Ice Group have granted a total of CAD$103,000 (US$78,692) to the eight winning projects, four of which are set to receive development grants with the remaining four to obtain production grants.

The documentaries were selected from a pool of 114 submissions from across 25 African countries.

“In this 6th year of the fund, it is an honor to announce these brave stories of emerging filmmakers from across the African continent,” said Hot Docs industry programs director Elizabeth Radshaw in a statement. “We are especially delighted that 75% of our grantees are female filmmakers. This fund continues to support the vision of artists whose point of view reflects the people and culture where they are from.”

The grant recipients will also receive support to attend the 2016 edition of the Hot Docs Festival – running from April 28 to May 8 in Toronto – where they will participate in a creative filmmakers’ lab, attend screenings, conference sessions, the Hot Docs Forum and various networking events, as well as a year-round peer-to-peer mentorship program.

Five of the grant recipients will also receive support to attend Hot Docs 2017 – running from April 27 to May 7 in Toronto – where they will participate in a creative filmmakers’ lab, attend screenings, conference sessions, the Hot Docs Forum and various networking events, as well as a year-round peer-to-peer mentorship program.

They will also be provided with support to attend and participate in the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), running July 13 to 23, and Durban FilmMart, running July 14-17.

The $2.35 million Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund was founded in 2011 to enable African filmmakers the ability to share their stories and contribute to the African community’s next generation of documentarians.

The fund has since awarded grants to 48 projects from 15 countries, as well as travel, accommodation and accreditation support to attend the Toronto-based festival and its Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Filmmakers Lab, as well as DIFF and the Durban FilmMart.

Applications for the next round of disbursements will open in June and close in August. Further information on the application, eligibility requirements and deadlines can be found here.

Descriptions for the eight Blue Ice projects, provided by Hot Docs, follow below:


Behind Closed Doors
Director: Yakout Elhababi
Producer: Vincent Mellili, Hind Saih, Karoline Henkel
Production Company: ESAV Prod, Bellota Films, Woodwater Films
Country: Morocco, France, Germany

High in the Rif Mountains of Morocco the people survive by growing kif. Beneath the shadow of the ambiguous legality of the crop, Behind Closed Doors tells the story of a family through its children and their mirroring games.

Lobola: A Bride’s True Price
Director: Sihle Hlophe
Producer: Sarah Basyouny
Production Company: Passion Seed Communications
Country: South Africa

When an opinionated filmmaker agrees to marry her long-term boyfriend, her feminist self is conflicted about whether to allow him to pay lobola (bride price) or not.

Director: Zippy Kimundu, Meena Nanji
Producer: Meena Nanji, Zippy Kimundu
Production Company: AfroFilms International
Country: Kenya

Testament excavates the hidden history of the Kenyan independence struggle from the perspective of those at its frontlines. Through a woman’s journey, this film reveals a brutal colonial regime, examines its legacy and connects it to contemporary Kenyan issues.

The Master’s Plan
Director: Yuri Ceuninck
Producer:  Yuri Ceuninck
Production Company: Kori Kaxoru Films
Country: Cape Verde

They believed they could get God’s forgiveness by confessing all their sins, so they did. They publicly confessed their worst secrets and posted them on Facebook. Society got to know them and so did the State’s institutions. But the forgiveness of God and that of men do not work the same way.


Director: Samwel Soko Osebe
Producer: Bramwel Iro
Production Company: Lightbox
Country: Kenya

An activist who is plagued by internal conflict with his past, present and future challenges generational political injustice in Kenya.

As I Want
Director: Samaher Alqadi
Producer: Karim El Hakim
Production Company: Prophecy Films
Country: Egypt

An Arab woman awakens an emotional crossroads between society’s expectations of a repressed life, and living the free life she wants. An intimate self-examination ensues exposing the taboos that controlled her Palestinian childhood, which she continues to face as a grown woman living in downtown Cairo.

Lift Like A Girl
Director: Mayye Zayed
Producer: Mayye Zayed, Moritz Helmes
Production Company: Rufy’s Films, Zum Goldenen Lamm Filmproduktion
Country: Egypt, Germany

A coming of age story about 14-year-old Zebiba, a young Egyptian girl who dreams of being a world champion weightlifter. With the help of her coach Captain Ramadan and against all odds, she pursues this unusual dream.

Whispering Truth to Power
Director: Shameela Seedat
Producer: Shameela Seedat, Francois Verster, Neil Brandt, Brechtje Smidt, Dan Jawitz
Production Company: Undercurrent Film & Television (UFT), Fireworx Media (FWM), Dutch Picture Industry (DPI)
Country: South Africa

Whispering Truth to Power tells the story of South Africa’s first female Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, a courageous woman who challenged the country’s most powerful politicians to protect the constitution and bring justice to ordinary people. With exclusive access, the film follows Madonsela and her team during her last year in office.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.