'Kuchu,' 'World' nab prizes and distrib deals

Toronto– Hot Docs wrapped Sunday with encore screenings of Friday night’s jury award-winners “Call Me Kuchu” (best international feature) and “The World Before Her” (best Canadian feature) — just two of several pics that drew heat at the annual 10-day fest, mart and confab for international documakers.

“Kuchu,” helmers Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright’s portrait of Ugandan gay activist David Kato and a Teddy winner at Berlin, closed a U.K. deal with indie distrib Dogwoof, negotiated by Cat Le Clef of Cat&Docs and Dogwoof’s Oli Harbottle. The distributor also sealed a U.K. deal for Jeff Orlowski’s “Chasing Ice,” negotiated with Submarine.

Fresh from nabbing the top docu prize at Tribeca, “World,” helmer Nisha Pahuja’s penetrating look at young woman at two extremes of Indian society, garnered a flurry of fest invites and Euro seller and buyer interest, bolstering Cinetic’s efforts to secure U.S. sales.

Last week’s Hot Docs Forum, the two-day pitch event and market centerpiece, saw a roster of international decision-makers at the round table.

But if Hot Docs auds — tracking to hit 160,000 and a 10% increase in box office, according to organizers — demonstrate the public’s hunger for engaging feature docus, today’s economic realities and diminishing broadcast windows and license fees mean the Forum, like similar events, is more about starting or furthering negotiations, as opposed to signing checks.

Nevertheless, a couple of Forum projects secured cash.

“Shadow Girl,” Chilean-Canadian filmmaker Maria Teresa Larrain’s exploration of blindness via her own experience, nabbed the $40,000 Shaw Media-Hot Docs Forum pitch prize. Polish helmer Hanna Polak won the Cuban Hat award ($1,690 donated by Forum attendees this year) for best pitch for “Svalka: Yula’s Journey,” which follows 11 years in the life of a young girl who lives in a Moscow garbage dump.

Several U.S. projects also found love at the Forum, with dollars certain to follow judging by enthusiastic U.S. and international TV buyer interest.

MipDoc international pitch competish winner “An Honest Liar,” co-helmer-producers Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein’s doc on 83-year-old magician and famed debunker James Randi, saw BBC, PBS and several Euro pubcasters keen to partner.

Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville had a slam-dunk pitch with “Vidal V. Buckley,” exploring the legacy of the famed 1968 televised heavyweight debates between Gore Vidal and host William Buckley. It attracted serious interest from BBC, PBS/ITVS, Arte/ZDF and HBO among others.

And with major HBO funding secured, Doug Block’s “112 Weddings” (his lengthy part-time gig as a wedding videographer a jumping off point to explore the meaning of marriage) also saw interest from Euro players.

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