Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Hot Docs" Wraps Record-Breaking Fest...

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Michael Stevens reporting from Toronto...

The 2009 edition of Toronto's "Hot Docs" wrapped its most successful festival to date May 10, with audience numbers reaching an estimated 122,000, marking a 42% increase over

The 11-day event starting April 30, featured 266 public screenings of more than 171 films @ seven Toronto theatres, a conference/market for doc professionals and 'Docs For Schools', an education program for youth.

Of the 107 screenings, the box office saw a 25% increase in public pass sales, gathering more than 100 filmmakers/special guests from across Canada and around the world to present films and moderate post-screening Q&A sessions with audiences.

"Our guest filmmakers consistently rave about what great audiences we have in Toronto," said Chris McDonald, executive director, "Hot Docs", "and we are thrilled that record numbers turned out to see their great films".

After the final screening May 10, were tallied for the 'Hot Docs Audience Award', with "THE COVE" (D: Louie Psihoyos; USA ), emerging the winner, focusing on a gripping intervention to end dolphin slaughter in Japan .

"...This thriller is compulsory viewing for anybody who believes in the power of documentary to right a wrong. In the 1960s, Richard O'Barry was the world's leading authority on dolphin training, working on the set of the popular television program Flipper. Day in and day out, O'Barry kept the dolphins working and television audiences smiling. But one day, it all came to a tragic end. The Cove, directed by top dive photographer Louie Psihoyos, tells the amazing story of how Psihoyos, O'Barry, and an elite team of activists, filmmakers, and freedivers embarked on a covert mission to penetrate a hidden cove in Japan, shining light on a dark and deadly secret. The mysteries they uncovered were only the tip of the iceberg. Already the Audience Award-winning film at Sundance 2009, The Cove is a potent, unforgettable work, and sure to be one the year's most acclaimed documentaries..."

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

1. THE COVE (D: Louie Psihoyos; USA)

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; USA)

5. A HARD NAME (D: Alan Zweig; Canada)

6. OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY (D: Michel Orion Scott; USA)

7. WINNEBAGO MAN (D: Ben Steinbauer; USA)

8. BURMA VJ (D: Anders Høgsbro Østergaard; Denmark)

9. ROUGH AUNTIES (D: Kim Longinotto; UK)

10. PROM NIGHT IN MISSISSIPPI (D: Paul Saltzman; Canada)