“Prayer for a Lost Mitten,” “Stray” take top prizes at Hot Docs ’20 competition

Jean-François Lesage’s Prayer for a Lost Mitten took home the Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award at the 2020 Hot Docs competition. Prayer for a Lost Mitten (pictured) portrays individuals who claim their ...
May 15, 2020

Jean-François Lesage’s Prayer for a Lost Mitten took home the Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award at the 2020 Hot Docs competition.

Prayer for a Lost Mitten (pictured) portrays individuals who claim their belongings at the Montreal Metro lost and found. The award, sponsored by the Documentary Organization of Canada and Telefilm Canada, includes a CA$5,000 prize.

A total of 11 awards and $42,000 in cash and prizes were announced Thursday (May 14), including awards for official selections in the competition and those recognizing emerging and established filmmakers.

The Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature Documentary was presented to Michèle Stephenson’s Stateless. The film, produced by Stephenson and Lea Marin, follows a young attorney’s grassroots campaign when anti-Black legislation in the Dominican Republic strips citizenship rights from people of Haitian descent.

The award includes a $2,500 cash prize.

Ying Wang was presented Hot Docs’ Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award for The World Is Bright, which follows an elderly Chinese couple confronting Canadian government bureaucracy as they unravel the mysterious truth behind the death of their son.

The award is given to a first- or second-time filmmaker with a feature film in the Canadian Spectrum program.

The jury also acknowledged Oksana Karpovych’s Don’t Worry, the Doors Will Open with an honorable mention. Produced by Ina Fichman and Judith Plamondon, the documentary journeys through the “everyday struggle of common men in a post-revolutionary society,” the jury stated, “filmed with striking poetry and love for people.”

Elsewhere, the Best International Feature Documentary Award was given to Stray, directed by Elizabeth Lo and produced by Lo and Shane Boris. Ceylan Carhoglu and Zeynep Koprulu are co-producers.

The film is a “lyrical” look at the stray dogs roaming the streets of Turkey.  Supported by the Panicaro Foundation, the award includes a $10,000 cash prize courtesy of the Panicaro Foundation.

Hot Docs is an Academy Award qualifying festival for international feature documentaries, and as the winner of this award Stray will qualify for consideration in the Academy Awards Best Documentary Feature category without the standard theatrical run, provided it complies with Academy rules.

Rodrigo Reyes’ 499 took home the Special Jury Prize — International Feature Documentary. The documentary explores the legacy of colonialism in contemporary Mexico nearly 500 years after Cortez conquered the Aztec Empire.

Sponsored by A&E, the award includes a $2,500 cash prize. The film was produced by Andrew Houchens and Inti Cordera. Gunter Hanfgarn and Su Kim are consulting producers; Sam Child is associate producer. David Felix Sutcliffe is consulting producer and co-producer.

Hot Docs’ Emerging International Filmmaker Award was presented to Todd Chandler for Bulletproof, produced by Chandler and Danielle Varga, which unravels how fear and anxiety caused by mass school shootings in the U.S. is affecting daily school life.

Supported by the Donner Canadian Foundation, the award recognizes a first- or second-time filmmaker with a feature film in the International Spectrum program and includes a $1,000 cash prize courtesy of Hot Docs.

In the Emerging International Filmmaker category, the jury also provided honorable mention to Tanja Wol Sørensen for A Colombian Family, produced by Rikke Tambo Andersen.

Andrea Testa’s Mother-Child took the prize for Best Mid-Length Documentary. The film, produced by Francisco Márquez, Luciana Piantanida and Andrea Perner, follows several pregnant teenage girls in Argentina, often victims of poverty and systemic gender violence, who are forced to give birth.

The award includes a $1,000 cash prize courtesy of Hot Docs. Panahbarkhoda Rezaee’s Eyes and Arms, which the jury called a “tender portrait of marriage” between a couple with disabilities living in Iran, received an honorable mention.

Theola Ross’s êmîcêtôcêt: Many Bloodlines, meanwhile, received the Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary. Produced by Alex Bailey, the award includes a $3,000 cash prize courtesy of John and Betty Youson.

The jury also recognized Shadow of the Pines, directed by Anne Koizumi and produced by Sahar Yousefi, with an honorable mention.

Marlén Viñayo Unforgivable was presented the Best International Short Documentary Award. The short, produced by Viñayo and Carlos Martínez, is about a hitman and gang member serving a sentence in isolation for being gay.

The award includes a $1,000 cash prize courtesy of Hot Docs.

Winners of the Best International Short Documentary and the Best Canadian Short Documentary will qualify for consideration in the Documentary Short Subject category of the Academy Awards.

The Lindalee Tracey Award, which honors an emerging Canadian filmmaker with “a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice and a sense of humour,” was presented to Salar Pashtoonyar for his film Bad Omen.

Pashtoonyar will receive a $5,000 cash prize courtesy of the Lindalee Tracey Fund, $5,000 in post-production services from Technicolor, and a hand-blown glass sculpture by Andrew Kuntz, specially commissioned to honor Tracey.

Earlier last week, Montreal-based producer Bob Moore of EyeSteelFilm was named recipient of the Don Haig Award, which is given to an “outstanding” independent Canadian producer with a film in the festival in recognition of his/her “creative vision, entrepreneurship and track record for nurturing emerging talent.”

The award comes with a $5,000 cash prize courtesy of the Don Haig Foundation. As part of the award, the recipient can name an emerging female documentary filmmaker to receive an All-Access pass to Hot Docs 2021. Moore named Myanmar-based director and producer Snow (Hnin Ei Hlaing) as the recipient of this prize.

The 2020 awards for films in competition were determined by four juries.

The Hot Docs Festival Online will begin streaming more than 140 official festival selections, including most of the winning films, to audiences across Ontario starting on May 28 on the recently launched Hot Docs at Home TVOD platform. During Hot Docs Festival Online, audiences will also be able to vote online for the CA$50,000 Rogers Audience Award, which will recognize the top five Canadian films in an audience poll with CA$10,000 cash prizes for each.

The Rogers Audience Award will be announced on June 7.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.