Hot Docs wraps with top prizes going to Family Portrait in Black and White and Dragonslayer

The Hot Docs film festival wrapped with a 11% increase in audience to an approximate 151,000 attendees, according to Jian Ghomeshi who hosted the lively-yet-cozy awards show that also doled out $72,000 in nine cash prizes at a landmark hotel in Toronto.

The annual Don Haig Award, including $20,000 in cash, was awarded to Toronto-based writer and director Rama Rau, who told the crowd to much applause: “If you felt the magic of documentary this week, please go out and tell the world!”

Best Canadian Feature ($15,000) went to Family Portrait in Black and White director Julia Ivanova who thanked the jury especially because “Eastern Europe is not a hot topic politically right now,” but added that this marks “our first award” for story about a ramshackle house in Ukraine where a super-mom is raising 16 abandoned mixed-race children.

The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation and Documentary Organization of Canada sponsors that award as well as the Special Jury Prize – Canadian Feature ($10,000), which was split between The Guantanamo Trap (directed by Thomas Selim) and At Night, They Dance, co-directed by Quebec’s Isabelle Lavigne and Stéphane Thibault, the latter who thanked the sponsors for “this money … so now we can make another film.”

Best International Feature ($10,000) went to Dragonslayer, whose director Tristan Patterson was on-hand to tell the crowd: “Hot Docs is an amazing festival with the most incredible audiences!” The documentary is about a Californian skate-punk named Skreech who stretches out his adolescence by riding empty pools, getting wasted and road-tripping.

The Special Jury Prize ($5,000) – International Feature — went to The Castle, directed by Massimo D’Anolfi and Martina Parenti, and is about the heightened tensions of today’s border security via Milan’s Malpensa Airport.

Best Mid-Length Documentary ($3,000) went to Our Newspaper (directed by Eline Flipse), about a disgruntled journalist who quits The Leninist and starts Our Newspaper in a remote Russian village.

Best Short Documentary ($3,000) was presented to Flying Anne (directed by Catherine van Campen) about a three-dimensional portrait of a girl with Tourette’s looking for love, acceptance and understanding.

The Short and Mid-Length Films Jury also acknowledged the film Something to Tell You (directed by Pete Gleeson) with an honourable mention.

An additional winner, of the Shaw Media-Hot Docs Rendezvous Pitch Prize, was also announced today as PC Bang: The Rise of the Esports Hero from producer Erica Landrock is the winner and recipient of its $5,000 cash prize.

The Sundance Channel People’s Choice Award winner is Somewhere Between by Linda Goldstein Knowlton (US), which follows four remarkable Chinese-born adoptees as they come of age between two cultures.

The HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award was presented to director Michal Marczak for the film At the Edge of Russia, in which a young recruit arrives at his Arctic post, hundreds of miles from the nearest human settlement, and is charged with an absurd task: patrolling the nothingness.

The Hot Docs Board of Directors acknowledged the Terence Macartney-Filgate as the recipient of the 2011 Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award, which was presented to the influential Canadian filmmaker at an event earlier in the day.

The Lindalee Tracey Award, which honours an emerging Canadian filmmaker, was presented to Quebec-based documentary filmmaker Alexandre Hamel, who will receive a $6,000 cash prize for Key 56 (about mental illness) as well as $3,000 in film stock (donated by Kodak Canada).

Hamel noted that “webvideo is normally not very glamorous, so thank you for considering it. And remember that 5% of people have mental problems.”

The Canadian Features Jury also acknowledged the film Wiebo’s War (directed by David York) with an honourable mention.

The International Features Jury also acknowledged the films Grande Hotel (directed by Lotte Stoops) and Hell and Back Again (directed by Danfung Dennis) with honourable mentions.

The Short and Mid-Length Films Jury also acknowledged the film People I could have Been and Maybe Am (directed by Boris Gerrets with an honourable mention.

The top ten audience favourites as determined by audience vote are:

Somewhere Between  (Linda Goldstein Knowlton, US)
Give Up Tomorrow (Michael Collins, US/UK)
How to Die in Oregon (Peter D. Richardson, US)
Wild Horse, Wild Ride (Alex Dawson and Greg Gricus, US)
Senna (Asif Kapadia, UK)
Buck (Cindy Meehl, US)
Jig (Sue Bourne, UK)
Eco Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson (Trish Dolman, Canada)
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (Constance Marks; Co-Director: Philip Shane, US)
Koran By Heart (Greg Barker, US)