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Festival Awards & Juries

Films in competition include Canadian Spectrum and International Spectrum selections, as well as short and mid-length works.

Academy Awards® Qualifying Festival
Hot Docs is recognized as a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards® in the Documentary Feature and Documentary Short Subject categories.

The winner of Hot Docs’ Best International Feature Documentary Award qualifies for consideration for the Oscar for Documentary Feature, and the winner of Hot Docs’ Best Canadian and International Short Documentary Awards qualify for consideration for the Oscar for Documentary Short Subject without standard theatrical runs, provided the films otherwise comply with the Academy rules.

Hot Docs 2019 Awards

During the 2019 Festival, over $208,000 in cash and prizes during the Festival. Unless otherwise noted, all prizes were awarded to the director of the winning film.


Best Canadian Feature Documentary
nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (D: Tasha Hubbard; P: Bonnie Thompson, Tasha Hubbard, George Hupka, Jon Montes; Canada)
Sponsored by the Documentary Organization of Canada and Telefilm Canada, the award includes a $10,000 cash prize.

DGC Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature Documentary
Prey (D: Matt Gallagher; P: Cornelia Principe, Matt Gallagher, Nick Hector (co-producer); Canada)
Sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada and DGC Ontario, the award includes a $5,000 cash prize.

Honourable Mention for DGC Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature Documentary: River Silence (D: Rogério Soares; P: Bob Moore, Annette Clarke; Canada)

Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award
Emily Gan for Cavebirds
Given to a first or second-time Canadian filmmaker with a feature film in the Canadian Spectrum program. Sponsored by Vistek, the award includes a $3,000 cash prize.

Best International Feature Documentary
Hope Frozen (D&P: Pailin Wedel; Thailand)
Supported by the Panicaro Foundation, the award includes a $10,000 cash prize courtesy of the Panicaro Foundation.

Special Jury Prize – International Feature Documentary
For Sama (D: Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts; P: Waad al-Kateab; UK, USA, Syria)
Sponsored by A&E, the award includes a $5,000 cash prize.

Emerging International Filmmaker Award
Nuno Escudeiro for The Valley (Italy, France)
Given to a first or second-time international filmmaker with a feature film in the International Spectrum program. The award includes a $3,000 cash prize courtesy of Hot Docs.

Best Mid-Length Documentary Award
Symphony of the Ursus Factory (D: Jaśmina Wójcik; P: Wojciech Marczewski, Zuzanna Król; Poland)
The award includes a $3,000 cash prize.

Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary
Kora: A Circle Life (D: Tenzin Sedon; P: Ming Liu, Tenzin Sedon; China, Canada, USA)
The award includes a $3,000 cash prize courtesy of John and Betty Youson.

Honourable Mention for Best Canadian Short Documentary: Mothers Of (D: Ross Lai; P: Nicolas Houghton, Christian Tyler, Tamara Sulliman; Canada)

Best International Short Documentary Award
Call Confession (D: Arturo Aguilar; P: Jimena Tormo; Spain, Mexico)
The award includes a $3,000 cash prize.

Honourable Mention for Best International Short Documentary category: A 3 Minute Hug (D: Everardo González; P: Daniela Alatorre, Elena Fortes; Mexico)


Rogers Audience Award for Best Canadian Documentary
Prey (D: Matt Gallagher, Canada) $50,000 prize courtesy of Rogers Group of Funds

Hot Docs Audience Award - Feature
Maxima (D: Claudia Sparrow, USA)

Hot Docs Audience Award - Mid-Length
Beloved (D: Yaser Talebi, Iran)

Hot Docs Audience Award - Short
St. Louis Superman (D: Smriti Mundhra, Sami Khan; Qatar, USA, Canada)

Hot Docs Audience Award - DocX
Traveling While Black (D: Roger Ross Williams, Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël, Ayesha Nadarajah; Canada)

Scotiabank Docs For Schools Student Choice Award
Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man (D: Lily Zepeda; P: Tchavdar Georgiev, Lily Zepeda, Eugene Efuni; USA)
Chosen from among ten films, the winner was determined by audience ballot cast by students attending Docs For Schools screenings at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema during the Festival. Sponsored by Scotiabank, the award comes with $5,000 cash prize, courtesy of Scotiabank.


Hot Docs 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award
Presented by the Hot Docs Board of Directors to Julia Reichert

Hot Docs 2019 Focus On Honouree
Canadian filmmaker Julia Ivanova

Don Haig Award
Toronto-based filmmaker, journalist, writer and activist Peter Raymont of White Pine Pictures
The award is decided upon by a jury of independent producers and comes with a $10,000 cash prize courtesy of the Don Haig Foundation and Telefilm Canada.

Don Haig Award Pay It Forward Prize
Screenwriter and director Fazila Amiri
As part of the award, the Don Haig Award recipient can name an emerging female documentary filmmaker to receive a $5,000 cash prize, courtesy of Telefilm Canada, and professional development opportunities at the Hot Docs Festival to further her career path.

The Lindalee Tracey Award
Andy Alvarez for her film Our Home The Award honours an emerging Canadian filmmaker with a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice and a sense of humour. The recipient receives a $5,000 cash prize courtesy of the Lindalee Tracey Fund, $5,000 in post-production services from Technicolor, and a beautiful hand-blown glass sculpture by Andrew Kuntz, specially commissioned to honour Lindalee.


first look Pitch Prizes
Awarded to top Hot Docs Forum Pitches as determined by first look program participants

  • 1st prize of $30,000: Midwives (EyeSteelFilm Inc., Canada; AMA FILM GmbH, Germany; Snow Film)
  • 2nd prize $20,000: Colour of the Wind (Tortuga Films, Canada; Alias film und sprachtransfer GmbH, Germany; Mouka Filmi Oy, Finland)

Surprise Prize
Twice Colonized (Ánorâk Film, Greenland; Ánorâk Film, Denmark; Unikkaat Studios, Canada)
A $20,000 award presented on behalf of Toronto documentary supporters by Elizabeth Radshaw.

Corus-Hot Docs Forum Pitch Prize
Twice Colonized (Ánorâk Film, Greenland; Ánorâk Film, Denmark; Unikkaat Studios, Canada)
Disbursed from the Corus-Hot Docs Funds, $10,000 is awarded to the best Canadian pitch at the Hot Docs Forum as voted on by attending international buyers.

Promise Prize
Jade Baxter (Canada)
Awarded to a current Doc Accelerator or CrossCurrents Canada fellow who is a racialized emerging Canadian filmmaker, the $1000 Promise Prize recognizes a filmmaker who is dedicated to building a long-term documentary filmmaking career, has shown a demonstrated commitment to supporting their cohort of peers, and whose work shows a strong creative vision and distinct voice. Generously sponsored by Scarborough Pictures

Cuban Hat Award
Socks on Fire: Uncle John and the Copper Headed Water Rattlers (Hitbird Productions LLC., USA) Determined by Hot Docs Forum Observers

2019 Juries


Alice Burgin
Alice Burgin is the current CEO/Conference Director of the Australian International Documentary Conference. She has over a decade of experience in the film and television industry in Australia and overseas, as well as a dual research PhD in film funding policy awarded from the University of Melbourne/Université de Paris X, France. She has programmed a number of film festivals across three continents, including the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Hamptons International Film Festival, Rooftop Films (New York City) and the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival, and was Associate Programmer at Tribeca Film Festival. In 2016 she began working as the Conference Programmer at AIDC, and was appointed CEO/Conference Director the following year. She is on the selection committee of Creative Victoria’s Screen Creative Grant and chairs the Department of Film and Animation Course Advisory Committee for the Swinburne University of Technology.

Christy Garland
Christy Garland is an award-winning Canadian documentary filmmaker. Her work focuses on compelling, intimate, character-driven stories that unfold over time, using an observational documentary shooting style. Her latest film, What Walaa Wants, premiered at the 2018 Berlinale and went on to win the DGC Special Jury Prize at the 2018 Hot Docs Festival. Other films include Cheer Up and The Bastard Sings the Sweetest Song, both of which had their premieres at Hot Docs.

Ariel Nasr
Ariel Nasr is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work has earned an Oscar nomination, a Canadian Screen Award and awards from festivals around the world. Director of the National Film Board’s The Boxing Girls of Kabul, Good Morning Kandahar and the interactive Kabul Portraits, Nasr’s work encompasses writing, directing and producing across multiple formats and platforms and has been broadcast in Canada, the US, across Latin America, Europe, East Asia and the Middle East. Based in Montreal, Nasr is currently in post-production on The Forbidden Reel, a feature documentary about the history of Afghanistan (for TVO, RDI, Al Jazeera), and One Year Later, a CBC documentary about the 2017 Quebec mosque shooting. His 2017 short, The Long Way Home, about Sudanese-Canadian torture survivor Abousfian Abdelrazik, was part of the Hot Docs anthology program, In the Name of All Canadians.


Anita Lee
Anita Lee is Executive Producer and Head of Studio in Toronto for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). She is a multi-award-winning producer and founder of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. Lee is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. From 2005 to the present, Lee produced some of the most critically acclaimed works in recent NFB history, including Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, named Best Documentary Feature by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, the Canadian Screen Awards, as well as Best Canadian Film by the Toronto Film Critics Association. Recent films include: What is Democracy (TIFF 2018, theatrical release at IFC Center); What Walaa Wants (Berlin, Hot Docs 2018 DGC Special Jury Prize—Canadian Feature Documentary, TIFF Top Ten Film, CSA nominee for Best Feature Length Documentary); Unarmed Verses (Hot Docs 2017 Best Canadian Feature Documentary, TIFF Top Ten, CSA nomination for Best Feature Documentary).

Jane Schoettle
Jane Schoettle most recently worked for several decades as an International Programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival®, responsible for programming films from Australia, New Zealand and Israel, as well as American independent cinema. She has also programmed extensively for festivals in Miami, Aspen and Palm Springs, in addition to having served on numerous international juries in Europe, South America and South Asia. She was also most recently the Producer of TIFF’s International Filmmaker Lab and TIFF Writer’s Studio, and the Filmmaker Retreats at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and has herself participated in numerous filmmaker labs as a mentor and speaker. She has spoken extensively internationally on the subject of “Festival Strategies for Independent Film.”

Harry Vaughn
Harry Vaughn is a programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, specializing in US and world documentary features. At the festival, he is also program lead on a Talent Forum initiative that introduces world documentary filmmakers to American film industry representatives. In 2018, he was a consulting programmer for Sundance Institute’s Catalyst Forum and he began his career at the Institute in 2011 as an intern and reader for the Feature Film Program, International. Aside from his work at Sundance, Vaughn is on the board of Dirty Looks, a platform for queer film, video and performance, and he is also a consulting programmer for Frameline: San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival. His previous work includes: senior programmer for Outfest Los Angeles, programmer and coordinator for NewFest in New York and Outfest Fusion. He holds a Master’s degree in Arts Journalism from the University of Southern California and is a Los Angeles native.


Sofia Bohdanowicz
Sofia Bohdanowicz is a Toronto-based filmmaker. She won the Emerging Canadian Director award at the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival for her debut feature, Never Eat Alone. In 2017, Bohdanowicz won the Jay Scott Prize and had a retrospective of her work at BAFICI. Her second feature, Maison du bonheur, was awarded Best Canadian Documentary by the Vancouver Film Critics Circle and was nominated for the Rogers Best Canadian Film Prize by the Toronto Film Critics Association. Her third feature film, MS Slavic 7, which is co-directed with actor Deragh Campbell, premiered at the Berlinale in the Forum section. Bohdanowicz is a Berlinale Talents alumni, and is currently in development on her fourth feature film.

Shasha Nakhai
Shasha Nakhai is a filmmaker based out of Toronto with Compy Films and Storyline Entertainment. Her award-winning films have screened at festivals and aired on TV worldwide, been released on many digital platforms and gone viral. Her film with partner Rich Williamson, Frame 394, was shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. It was named one of TIFF’s Top 10 Films of 2016 and nominated for two Canadian Screen Awards. She recently released her first feature documentary, Take Light. Nakhai grew up in Nigeria and came to Canada as an international student in 2003.

Jason Ryle
Jason Ryle is the Artistic and Managing Director of imagineNATIVE, an Indigenous-run media arts organization based in Toronto. In his role he oversees the annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, the world’s largest showcase of Indigenous-made screen content, in addition to imagineNATIVE’s year-round initiatives including its Tour and Institute. He has produced two short films and is currently in early development on his first feature films. Ryle sits on the Board for the Toronto Arts Council and is the Co-Chair of its Visual and Media Arts Committee.


Opal Bennett
Opal Bennett has been a curator since 2014, when she joined the Programming team at Montclair Film Festival as Shorts Programmer. Beginning as a volunteer for the first Sundance London Film Festival in 2012, she now curates year-round. Bennett is on the programming teams for Aspen ShortsFest, Athena and Nantucket Film Festivals, and is a Program Consultant for The March on Washington Film Festival. She is also on the selection committee for shorts at Cinema Eye Honors. Bennett has served on juries for SxSW, IndieMemphis, NewFest, Leuven ShortsFest, IndieStreet Filmfest, Cleveland and Seattle International Film Festivals, among others. She has also participated on selection committees for independent film programming and grants.

Alexandra Lazarowich
Alexandra Lazarowich is a an award-winning Cree producer, director and screenwriter whose work has premiered at film festivals around the world. She is passionate about telling Indigenous stories. Her most recent documentary, Fast Horse, recently premiered and won in competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

Amanda Parris
By day, Amanda Parris writes a weekly column for CBC Arts, hosts three CBC television series (CBC Arts: Exhibitionists, The Filmmakers and From the Vaults), and is the radio host of Marvin’s Room on CBC Music. By night, she writes stories for the stage and screen. Her play, Other Side of the Game, was co-produced by Cahoots Theatre and Obsidian Theatre Company in 2017 and is set to be published by Playwrights Canada Press in May 2019. Over the course of her career, Parris has worked as an educator, researcher, actor and community organizer. She is the co-founder of the award-winning alternative education organization Lost Lyrics, and worked with The Remix Project and the Manifesto Festival. Parris is a frequently requested speaker and panelist who has delivered keynotes at numerous summits and festivals, including UN Habitat conferences in Durban and Naples. She completed her Honours BA degree in Political Science and Women’s Studies at York University and her MA degree in Sociology of Education at the University of Toronto.

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Presenting Platinum Partner

  • logo Scotia Wealth Management

Founding Partner

  • logo Rogers

Signature Partner

  • logo CBC Docs

Presenting Partners

  • Logo Crave 2019
  • logo Netflix

Major Supporter

  • logo telefilm