TORONTO — Director Hnin Ei Hlaing’s “Midwives,” which tells the story of two midwives who work side-by-side in a makeshift clinic, has won Hot Docs’ First Look program’s first prize and CAN$30,000 ($22,000) cash, it was announced following the close of the Hot Docs Forum and Hot Docs Deal Maker events Wednesday afternoon.
“Midwives” was pitched by Hlaing and producers Ulla Lehmann (Germany’s AMA Film) and Mila Aung-Thwin (Canada’s EyeSteelFilm) at the Forum, the festival’s key international cofinancing market event. The Forum celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and saw a total of 21 projects representing 18 countries pitched to more than 300 international broadcasters, streamers, funders, producers and other observers.
“We’re thrilled with our 20th anniversary and in awe of the courage expressed by this exceptional group of filmmakers, as well as the generosity of spirit from our decision-makers,” said Hot Docs Forum producer Dorota Lech. “We cannot wait to see these projects on the big screen.”
More than CAN$83,000 ($62,000) in cash prizes was awarded to projects at this year’s Forum. First Look, which represents more than half of the prize cash, is a curated access program for philanthropic investors in documentary film.
The First Look’s second prize of CAN$20,000 (US $15,000) cash was awarded to director Claire Sanford’s “Colour of the Wind,” about monstrous dust storms that travel from the deserts of China to the shores of California.
The Surprise Prize of CAN$20,000 (US $15,000) was awarded to Lin Alluna’s “Twice Colonized,” which explores the political works and personal battles of Inuit activist Aaju Peter. The film also received the Corus-Hot Docs Forum Pitch Prize, a CAN$10,000 ($7,400) cash prize awarded to the best Canadian pitch.