Hot Docs, Blue Ice Docs reveal grant recipients for African non-fiction projects

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and Blue Ice Docs announced on Wednesday (April 6) the nine African film projects from eight countries that will receive CDN$150,000 in development ...
April 6, 2022

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and Blue Ice Docs announced on Wednesday (April 6) the nine African film projects from eight countries that will receive CDN$150,000 in development and production grants.

The projects were chosen from 77 applications from 25 countries. Three of the selected film projects will receive development grants, while three others will receive production grants and three more will get post-production grants.

In addition, four grant recipients have also been invited to take part in a year-long mentorship program that grants direct access to industry mentors, provides networking opportunities and includes private filmmaker labs at Hot Docs and the Durban FilmMart/Durban International Film Festival or other festivals and markets in Africa.

Now in its 11th year, the Hot Docs–Blue Ice Docs Fund was established with the goal of enabling more African documentary filmmakers to tell their stories. Since its founding in 2011, the program has supported 87 unique projects from 26 countries, with CDN$1,380,000 granted to date.

“The nine films selected for this funding round showcase incredible storytelling that needs to be seen on the big screen,” said Heidi Tao Yang, Hot Docs’ director of funds and labs, in a news release. “These stories span from the mountain to the sea, and the styles range from visual poetry to adrenaline-pumping calls for social action.

“We are particularly excited to support, for the first time through the Hot Docs–Blue Ice Docs Fund, projects from Burkina Faso and Sudan. We look forward to working with lab fellows in person this year, the first time since the pandemic started.”

Here are the Hot Docs–Blue Ice Docs Fund development grants recipients (with synopses provided by the Fund):

The Camera Never Cries (pictured)
Directors: Elsadig Abdelgayoum, Abuzar Adam
Producer: Alyaa Musa
Production Company: Black Balance Artistic Production Co. Ltd.
Country: Sudan

When Elsadig and Abuzar first met while filming the Sudanese revolution in 2019, neither knew they would eventually turn the camera on each other. An intimate journey of a growing friendship between two directors, who seek redemption and beauty through the art of filmmaking when all the odds are against them.

Dancing with Water, My Tormenting Enemy
Director: Cyrielle Raingou
Producers: Alice Abah, Cyrille Masso, Véronique Holley
Production Companies: JCMR, Malo Pictures, Label Vidéo
Countries: Cameroon, France

The odyssey of a director trying to exorcise her fear of water and perhaps finally face the evil eye of Njinou, who takes anyone who dares to venture into deep water.

Djeliya, Memory of Manding
Director: Boubacar Sangaré
Producer: Mamounata Nikiema
Production Company: Pilumpiku Production
Country: Burkina Faso

Sékou Timité has one ambition: to follow in his late father’s footsteps and become a “Djeli,” a griot, guardian of the oral memory in West Africa. Interested in the obsolete art of the griot, he leaves his family behind and sets off to confront the modern world on the roads of the legendary Mandingo Empire.

Recipients of the Hot Docs–Blue Ice Docs Fund production grants:

Land of Women
Directors: Nada Riyadh, Ayman El Amir
Producers: Ayman El Amir, Mette-Ann Schepelern, Marc Irmer
Production Companies: Felucca Films, Magma Film, Dolce Vita Films
Countries: Egypt, Denmark, France

In a conservative village in the south of Egypt dominated by patriarchy, a group of Coptic girls refuses the traditional roles forced upon them by forming an all-female street theater troupe.

Untitled Kenyan Politics Project
Directors: Maia Lekow, Christopher King
Producers: Maia Lekow, Christopher King
Production Company: Circle and Square Productions
Country: Kenya

Logline withheld.

Trash Cemetery
Directors: Firas Rebiai, Rami Jarboui
Producers: Firas Rebiai, Dhia Rebiai
Production Company: NAP
Country: Tunisia

Once a heavenly small town on the outskirts of Tunis, El Attar turned into a living hell after Tunisia’s largest landfill opened on its doorsteps.

Recipients of the Hot Docs–Blue Ice Docs Fund post-production grants:

Before the Final Picture
Director: Aya Tallah Yusuf
Producers: Aya Tallah Yusuf, Sumer Abd Elnasser
Production Company: Shoghl Cairo Pictures
Country: Egypt

Between Cairo and Dubai, Samar tries to rebuild her life after an acid attack by her ex-partner. The film captures five years of her mental and physical healing journey, and the friendship she builds with another acid survivor.

Behind Closed Doors
Director: Yakout Elhababi
Producer: Yakout Elhababi
Production Company: Behind Closed Doors
Country: Morocco

A portrait of a farming family living in the most marginalized region of Morocco, where livelihood comes exclusively from growing cannabis. The film explores the inherent taboo weighing on them and their children, who mirror the parents’ work with their games.

Director: Muhannad Lamin
Producer: Muhannad Lamin
Production Company: Khayal Productions
Country: Libya

The story of a fighter in the center of the Libyan conflict who carries a camera as his weapon of choice.

Photo courtesy of Hot Docs

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.