The internationally-acclaimed documentary maven Ally Derks will receive the 2011 Doc Mogul Award at next year’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto (April 28-May 8).

“As a founder [and director] of one of the world’s most important documentary film festivals [International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam] , Ally’s contribution to international documentary culture is unparalleled,” says Hot Docs director of programming Sean Farnel, in the release, applauding “her sustained, passionate presence and voice as a champion of the documentary form and its community.”

The Doc Mogul Award recognizes an individual who, over the course of her or his career, has made an essential contribution to the creative vitality of the documentary industry, both at home and abroad. The award will be presented at a luncheon in Derks’ honour, during Hot Docs.

“Equal parts mogul and big-hearted diva, Ally has helped to change the face of international documentary co-production,” says Hot Docs executive director Chris McDonald. “She’s nurtured hundreds of filmmakers, screened films to millions of Dutch doc lovers, and bewitched all of us with her infectious laugh and keen eye for talent.”

Derks credits include being the coordinator of Festikon, a yearly educational film and video festival in Utrecht. She started In IFDA in 1988 and has served as its director since 1989 and in 1991, Derks started the first pitching forum, dubbed FORUM, for the international co-financing of documentaries. She is also director of the Jan Vrijman Fund and head of its selection committee and has won several awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award at DocAviv in Tel Aviv (2007) and the IJ Prijs by the city of Amsterdam and PricewaterhouseCoopers (2008).

Last year’s winner of the Doc Mogul Award was Jan Rofekamp whose Films Transit International, which participates in the annual pitching event, the Hot Docs Forum.

Hot Docs also announced today that “an enhanced pitching event” will be part of the concurrent market activities in the Hot Docs Forum (formerly the Toronto Documentary Forum), scheduled for May 4 and 5, 2011.

“We’ve listened to our delegates’ feedback and have made some exciting improvements to the 2011 Hot Docs Forum, including bringing in a increasingly diverse roster of funders, planning a smoother schedule, and allowing for more delegate networking time,” says Elizabeth Radshaw, Forum and Market Director, Hot Docs.

Over 25 projects will be pitched to a table of buyers, funders and observers; submissions for those presentation slots are now being accepted with a final deadline of January 21, 2011.

In 2011, the Hot Docs Forum will bring commissioning editors, interactive executives, distributors, sales agents and third sector representatives to the table for more focused and intensive pitching sessions. Buyers and funders at the table in 2010 included ARTE, BBC, CBC/SRC, ESPN, Films Transit, Ford Foundation, HBO, NHK, MSNBC, NFB Interactive, PBS, RAI, ro*co films, Sundance Channel, TVOntario,  YLE and ZDF.