Toronto-based international documentary festival Hot Docs revealed that its board of directors has chosen filmmaker Stanley Nelson as the 2020 recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award, among several announcements for the year.
Nelson (pictured), a celebrated filmmaker known for chronicling the African American experience, has won Emmys and numerous other awards for his body of work, which includes The Murder of Emmett Till, Freedom Riders, Freedom Summer and most recently Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool. Nelson is a MacArthur “Genius” fellow, and he received a Peabody Award in 2015 and the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts Sciences. Additionally, he was awarded the National Medal in the Humanities from President Barack Obama.
Nelson and his wife, Marcia A. Smith, founded Firelight Media in 2000. The non-profit prodco is dedicated to telling underrepresented stories and to mentoring, inspiring and training a new generation of talented documentary filmmakers of color. Firelight received a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2016.
As part of the honor, Hot Docs will screen a partial retrospective of Nelson’s work during the festival, with Nelson participating in a public talk and several Q&As.
“We’re honored to recognize Stanley Nelson, one of the documentary world’s most important voices, with the Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award, and to feature a selection of films from Stanley’s impressive body of work,” said Shane Smith, director of programming for Hot Docs, in a statement. “His contribution to documentary is unprecedented, with his powerful films providing incisive commentary on the African American experience, while restoring his subjects to their rightful place in history.”
In other Hot Docs news, the fest will pay tribute to Canadian filmmaker Raymonde Provencher in this year’s Focus On retrospective.
Provencher is a researcher and filmmaker with a passion for international affairs, which led her to help launch and produce Télé-Québec’s Nord-Sud in 1983 to promote international news programming in Quebec.
Committed to uncovering stories about human rights and social injustice issues, her credits include Extremis, Lost Childhood, War Babies, Une nouvelle vie pour Ramon Mercedes, Blue Helmets: Peace and Dishonour, A Senseless Death, Café Désirs, Torn Apart and more.
The Focus On series is a yearly program showcasing the work of a significant Canadian filmmaker. Hot Docs will screen a selection of Provencher’s films in the In Focus on program during the 2020 festival.
“Combining a journalist’s tenacity with deep humanism, Raymonde Provencher is a formidable filmmaker and storyteller, whose genuine care for, and interest in, her subjects arises from her profound commitment to women and human rights,” said Smith. “We’re so thrilled to be able to spotlight her films with our Focus On program at this year’s Festival, a body of work that spans the globe and reflects some of its rarely covered stories with deep sincerity and compassion.”
Finally, Hot Docs has revealed that Northern Ireland has been selected as the subject of its annual Made In program, which will showcase recent works from the country during the 2020 festival.
Past Made In programs have focused on films from Italy (2019), Mexico (2018), Japan (2017), Australia (2016), India (2015), Denmark (2014), Poland (2013), Southeastern Europe (2012), Italy (2011), South America (2010), South Korea (2009), Mexico (2008), Brazil (2007), Japan (2006), South Africa (2004) and Taiwan (2003).
The full program for the 2020 Hot Docs festival will be announced in March.
Hot Docs runs April 30 to May 10 in Toronto.
(Photo courtesy of Hot Docs)