US filmmaker Louie Psihoyos’ The Cove won the 2009 Audience Prize at Toronto’s international documentary film festival Hot Docs. The film tells of efforts of environmentalists and animal rights activists to end the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan.

Summing up the statistics from the ten-day event, which wrapped this weekend, Hot Docs announced a stunning 42 per cent increase in attendance compared to 2008 with a total attendance of 122,000; more crucially, in terms of financial stability, there was a 25 per cent increase in public pass sales. In all there were 266 public screenings of more than 171 films.

Said festival executive director Chris McDonald, “Our guest filmmakers consistently rave about what great audiences we have in Toronto, and we are thrilled that record numbers turned out to see their great films.”

The festival also produced a list of the top-ten audience favourites:

1. The Cove (D: Louie Psihoyos; US)

2. 65_Redroses (D: Philip Lyall, Nimisha Mukerji; Canada)

3. Inside Hana’s Suitcase (D: Larry Weinstein; Canada, Czech Republic)

4. Best Worst Movie (D: Michael Paul Stephenson; US)

5. A Hard Name (D: Alan Zweig; Canada)

6. Over The Hills And Far Away (D: Michel Orion Scott; US)

7. Winnebago Man (D: Ben Steinbauer; US)

8. Burma Vj (D: Anders Hoegsbro Oestergaard; Denmark)

9. Rough Aunties (D: Kim Longinotto; UK)

10. Prom Night In Mississippi (D: Paul Saltzman; Canada)