Hot Docs 2020 Online Industry Market Wraps with Over $190,000 in Cash Prizes

Hot Docs’ online market has wrapped its first two weeks of successful pitching, deal-making, learning and networking. Over $190,000 CAD in prize money was awarded to projects participating in the Hot Docs Forum and the new Al Jazeera Short Pitch Competition. Access to content in the online market continues for registered delegates until May 31, and curated one-on-one pitch meetings arranged through Hot Docs Deal Maker and Distribution Rendezvous programs continue throughout the month.

Hot Docs Forum, Hot Docs’ key international co-financing market event, saw 22 pitch teams representing 19 countries pitch their projects to top decision makers, with women representing 18 of the 27 directors and 42 of the 60 producers associated with projects. A total of $57,000 CAD in cash prizes was awarded to Hot Docs Forum projects.

The first look program’s first prize of $30,000 CAD went to Children of the Mist (D: Hà Lệ Diễm; P: Phuong Thao Tran, Swann Dubus; Varan Vietnam Co., Ltd.; Vietnam), about a teenage Hmong girl in the misty mountains of North Vietnam who walks the thin line between childhood and adulthood. Prior to pitching at the Forum, Children of the Mist received a grant through Hot Docs’ CrossCurrents International Doc Fund - Theatrical Strand, courtesy of the Panicaro Foundation.

The first look program’s second prize of $15,000 CAD went to Just a Band (D: Anjali Nayar, Mbithi Masya; P: Wanuri Kahiu, Caryn Capotosto, Katie Doering, Anjali Nayar, Roger Ross Williams; Ink & Pepper Productions, Ltd., Canada; Afrobubblegum, Kenya), a coming-of-age story about four Nairobians who form an Afro-electric band during Kenya’s post-dictatorship art renaissance.

An honourable mention with a $2,000 stipendium was given to Masha [D: Giedrė Žickytė; P: Giedrė Žickytė, Uldis Cekulis, Christine Le Goff; ZED SAS (France); Vides filmu studija, SIA (Latvia); VšĮ Moonmakers (Lithuania)], which reveals the extraordinary legacy of Masha Ivashintsova, Russia’s lost photographer. Hot Docs first look is a curated access program for philanthropic supporters of, and investors in, documentary film, and first look participants vote on prize recipients and generously provide prize money.

The Corus-Hot Docs Forum Pitch Prize was awarded to Ojiibikaan [D: Rémy Huberdeau, Sean Stiller; P: Lisa Jackson, Lauren Grant, Rémy Huberdeau; Door Number 3 Productions Inc. (Canada); Clique Pictures Inc. (Canada); Earth City Films Inc. (Canada); NFB (Canada)], a character-driven feature that immerses audiences in the experience of being in a relationship with the living world, where plants, animals and the land itself are medicine. Disbursed from the Corus-Hot Docs Funds, the $10,000 CAD cash prize is awarded to the best Canadian pitch at the Forum as voted on by attending international buyers. Prior to being pitched at the Hot Docs Forum, Ojiibikaan also received a production grant through Hot Docs’ CrossCurrents Canada Doc Fund, supported by Netflix, which supports a diversity of voices and perspectives with the goal of building a more vibrant, representative and sustainable industry.

Hot Docs partnered with Al Jazeera English’s flagship documentary television program Witness for the first time this year to present the Hot Docs Al Jazeera Short Pitch. Originally slated to support at least one winner with up to $50,000 USD ($70,000 CAD) for a full commission, upon seeing the pitches AJE Witness decided to award two projects with full commissions in that amount, for a total prize of up to $100,000 USD ($140,000 CAD). The two winning pitches were Six Mile and Woodward (Found Poetry Films, Ontario) pitched by Erin Byrnes (producer and director), Allie Jaynes (co-producer), and Lucia Ho (associate producer), about a woman helping other trans women of color in Detroit confront widespread violence; and Illegal Billboards [pitched by Cat Mills (director) and Felicity Justrabo (producer), Ontario], about a high-energy anarchist-type who targets illegal billboards in the city of Toronto.

On March 13, Hot Docs announced that it would postpone public Festival screenings, slated to run April 30-May 10, and hold its industry conference and market online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Launched on April 30 and running until May 31, the Hot Docs’ online market has seen 1,535 delegates from around the world participate, with more registering every day.

Hot Docs’ online market hosted the Keynote: Why Art Matters in a Time of Crisis with award-winning director Sam Soko; the live panel discussion Surviving and Thriving in the Age of COVID; six micro-meetings; 12 Close Up With… sessions; 15 Hot Docs Hangouts, which were informal Zoom networking events that welcomed close to 350 participants from 41 different countries; and provided access to stream Hot Docs 2020 official selections and other titles.

Registered delegates have access to online market content until May 31.

Curated one-on-one pitch meetings will continue throughout the month with approximately 800 meetings for 33 projects being projected through Hot Docs Deal Maker, and approximately 698 meetings for 82 projects being projected through Distribution Rendezvous.

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