Cara Mertes Bnr

Doc Mogul

Awarded annually, Hot Docs’ Doc Mogul Award is given to an individual who, over the course of their career, has made an essential contribution to the creative vitality of the documentary industry, both in their country and abroad.

2018 Doc Mogul Award

The 2018 Doc Mogul Award will be presented to Cara Mertes, director of the JustFilms initiative at the Ford Foundation.

2018 Doc Mogul Luncheon
Monday, April 30
Registered delegates can purchase tickets via the Online Community

About Cara Mertes

As the director of JustFilms since 2013, Cara has carried forward the Ford Foundation’s long-time commitment to film as a critical social justice strategy. With a focus on deepening a socially engaged moving image practice, she has expanded JustFilms’ original remit as a feature length documentary fund, to implementing an integrated content and field-funding initiative that supports an inclusive independent film/emerging media eco-system around the world. The latest expression of this approach is the recently launched JustFilms Global Network of nine global north/global south organizations supporting independent media makers. This network is funded over five years to build sustainability for the organizations and link them in exploring common global needs of independent documentarians.

Mertes has spearheaded Ford’s funding for over 250 film and media projects that lift up stories that underscore human dignity and justice, including the Academy Award-winning film Citizenfour. Through JustFilms, Mertes has supported fellowships for field leaders, in particular leaders of color, created new opportunities for filmmakers to work with journalists, and expanded the emerging media landscape with the recent Making A New Reality report and a set of VR labs for makers of color. She has also helped to advance the field of narrative and culture shift by spearheading the creation and launch of the Narrative Initiative and the Detroit Narrative Agency and by participating in the design and launch of the new Pop Culture Collaborative.

Prior to this role, for eight years she served as director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Fund, increasing funding resources, developing year-round labs and fellows programs supporting hundreds of films and filmmakers, and incubating new initiatives focused on deeper understandings of film and social change, including Stories of Change with Skoll Foundation, the Good Pitch models created by DocSociety, and the TED | Sundance partnership. Before Sundance, she was the executive producer of the PBS documentary series POV, where she was honoured with multiple Emmy, Peabody and duPont-Columbia awards, and executive produced several Academy Award–nominated films including Street Fight, Nerakkoon: Betrayal and My Country, My Country. She received a Webby Award as creator and producer of POV’s Borders, PBS’ first on-line web series. Cara is a member of the WGA and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. A graduate of Vassar College, she attended the Whitney Independent Study Program as a Helena Rubenstein Fellow and completed Harvard University’s OPM Business Program as a Ford Foundation Fellow.

Past Winners

  • 2017: Monique Simard, SODEC
  • 2016: Iikka Vehkalahti, IV Films Ltd, Rough Cut Service, Dare to Dream Asia
  • 2015: Takahiro Hamano, NHK
  • 2014: Mette Hoffmann Meyer, DR TV
  • 2013: Debra Zimmerman, Women Make Movies
  • 2012: Diane Weyermann, Participant Media
  • 2011: Ally Derks, IDFA
  • 2010: Jan Rofekamp, Films Transit International
  • 2009: Sheila Nevins, HBO
  • 2008: Nick Fraser, BBC
  • 2007: Rudy Buttignol, The Knowledge Network

Recipient Highlights

The award is presented each year at the Doc Mogul luncheon held during the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.


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Presenting Platinum Partner

  • logo Scotiabank

Presenting Partners

  • logo Bell-Media
  • logo documentary-Channel
  • logo Rogers
  • Logo Samsung

Major Supporters

  • logo Celebrate-Ontario
  • logo telefilm

Official Airline Partner

  • logo Delta Web