The votes have been cast and counted. Today organizers of the 20th annual Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival announced the top films as chosen by audiences and filmmakers attending this year’s festival.
The Netflix Audience Award winner is “Muscle Shoals,” the story of how the tiny backwater town of Muscle Shoals, Alabama impacted contemporary music legends including Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Bono and Mick Jagger.
Second place in the audience poll goes to “Blood Brother,” in which the director follows his friend’s sudden move to India to care for HIV-positive orphans. Third choice is “A Whole Lott More,” which documents the impact of the auto crisis on Lott Industries, a small manufacturing company staffed by people with developmental disabilities.
A cash prize, to be shared by these top three films, was crowd-funded via Hot Docs’ Doc Ignite platform. Current total is in excess of $6500. Contributions to this cash prize can be made until May 10.
Also choosing their favorite film were attending filmmakers with official selections in the festival. This year two films tied for the Filmmakers Award. They are “The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear,” which share stories about war, love, dreams and poverty from youth in the director’s home country of Georgia, and “These Birds Walk,” about a children’s shelter in Karachi, Pakistan.
View the accompanying list for more details.
See you at the movies.
Thanks to one visionary record producer and a group of unknown session musicians, Fame Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama changed the trajectory of modern music. At the heart of the story is Rick Hall, Fame founder, and his band of buddies, The Swampers. Together they develop the deep, soulful “Muscle Shoals sound” that shaped the music of recording artist icons including Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Gregg Allman, Bono and The Rolling Stones.
Director Steve Hoover follows best friend Rocky Braat as he leaves Pittsburgh, Pa. and moves to India to care for women and children living with HIV and AIDS. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for U.S. Documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Blood Brother” is a story of true conviction that reaches beyond doing aid work for personal gratification.
‘A Whole Lott More’
When the auto crisis hit, Lott Industries, a small manufacturing facility in Toledo, Ohio, had a year to reinvent or close down. At risk is the well-being of all of the company’s 1200 employees who are developmentally disabled. The race to find a new business plan for this success-driven company is only part of the story. At the heart of the film are personal profiles of dedicated employees who, despite their disabilities, are working hard to realize their dreams.
‘The Punk Singer’
A much anticipated documentary, “The Punk Singer” is a biography of Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, and outspoken feminist who rose to fame as the voice of the riot grrrl movement.
‘Last Woman Standing’
For seven years, amateur boxers and close friends Ariane Fortin and Mary Spencer fought side by side in different weight categories on Canada’s national team. Then everything changed in 2012 in the face of Olympic competition. “Last Woman Standing” reveals how these two women are forced to compete against each other for the single spot on the Canadian Olympic team in their now-shared weight category.
‘Spring & Arnaud’
Beautifully crafted, “Spring & Arnaud” is a tender love story about acclaimed Canadian artists Spring Hurlbut and Arnaud Maggs who demonstrate an undying love for each other as together they cope with aging and serious illness.
‘This Ain’t No Mouse Music’
Chris Strachwitz is the legendary record producer and founder of Arhoolie Records, the label that brought rural American music out of the shadows and into the limelight. Famed performers Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, Michael Doucet, the Pine Leaf Boys, Flaco Jiménez and CJ Chenier are featured in this film about Strachwitz and how he cultivated the sounds and rhythms of rural America.
Arunachalam Muruganantham is a visionary micro-entrepreneur who ignores the criticism and disbelief of others to pursue his goal of creating low-cost sanitary pads for the rural women of India. His success brings employment and emancipation to the women who use his product.
‘The Crash Reel’
In the lead up to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, American championship snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury during a training accident. As a cautionary tale “The Crash Reel” reveals his competitive spirit and indomitable will to live despite the disabling consequences of his participation in extreme sports.
‘The Ghosts in Our Machine’
Award-winning photographer and activist Jo-Anne McArthur travels the world to document the mistreatment of animals at the hands of western industry. Through her impassioned photography, the film highlights the complex relationships between humans and their animals, whether they be raised for food, or adopted as pets.