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Hot Docs executive director Chris McDonald. (Charla Jones For The Globe and Mail)
Hot Docs executive director Chris McDonald. (Charla Jones For The Globe and Mail)

Belgian-Romanian, Canadian films take top prizes at Hot Docs Add to ...

A film about a Romanian teenager left to care for her siblings and a portrait of patients in a Canadian mental health facility took the top prizes out of 197 films at this year’s Hot Docs Film Festival, the largest annual documentary festival in North America, which closes Sunday.

The winner of the A&E sponsored $10,000 Best International Feature Documentary Award went to Teodora Ana Mihai’s Waiting for August, a Belgian-Romanian film which follows 15-year-old girl, forced to care for her family through the winter while her mother seeks work in Italy.

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In presenting the award, the jury noted that “…by the time it’s over you will have laughed, cried, and become one of the family.”

The Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award went to John Kastner’s Out of Mind, Out of Sight, a portrait of four patients at Brockville Mental Health Centre who have committed violent acts. The film also received a $10,000 prize, sponsored by the Documentary Organization of Canada. The Canadian feature film jury cited the film’s “deep empathy and humanity in one of the most physically and emotionally harrowing environments imaginable.”

Out of Mind, Out of Sight screens again on Sunday, May 4, at 1:00 pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

A total of 13 awards and $66,000 in prizes were handed out in the closing ceremony held at the Windsor Arms Hotel on Friday night, moderated by CBC radio host Jian Gomeshi.

The Special Jury Prize Canadian Features Documentary was given to Thomas Wallner’s Before the Last Curtain Falls, which follows six aging gay and transgender Belgian theatre performers on the closing night of a theatrical run. The Special Jury Prize – International Feature Documentary went to Walking Under Water (d. Elizab Kubarska), the story of the last compressor diver form the Badjao tribe in Malaysian Borneo. Walking Under Water screens again on Saturday, May 3, at 9:30 pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

In other prizes, the Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award went to Grant Baldwin for Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. Honourable mention went to Amar Wala’s The Secret Trial 5, about five Muslim men incarcerated in Canada without trial. The Emerging International Filmmaker Award went to director Orlando von Einsiedel’s English film, Virgunga, about a Belgian conservationist and a team of Congolese rangers working to protect endangered mountain gorillas. Virunga screens on Saturday, May 3, at 9:30 at the Isabel Bader Theatre.

The Best Mid-Length Documentary went to French directors Cédric Dupire and Gaspard Kuentz’s Kings of the Wind & Electric Queens, a look at an Indian carnival on the first day of Diwall. The Best Short Documentary prize went to the Australian film, Ghost Train with an honourable mention went to Beach Boy (UK, Denmark).

Two filmmakers, Matt Johnson and Madeleine Grant, were awarded the The Lindalee Tracey Award, given to an emerging Canadian filmmaker who displays “a passionate point of view, a strong sense of social justice and a sense of humour”.

In earlier announcements, Hot Docs picked British filmmaker, Adam Curtis (The Century of the Self) as this year’s Outstanding Achievement Award, Canadian producer Michael McNamara, of Markham Street Films, won the Don Haig Award for vision and track record, and American director, Andrew Napier (director of this year’s entry, Mad As Hell) won the Gaia TV Conscious Media Award. As well, the commissioning editor of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, Mette Hoffman Meyer, received the 2014 Doc Mogul Award.

On Monday, the festival will announce the winners of the JustEat.ca Audience Award and the audiences top ten films of the festival, along with the Filmmaker-to-Filmmaker Award, voted on by this year’s filmmakers.

This story was corrected to show Andrew Napier is the director of Mad as Hell and he won the Gaia TV Conscious Media Award

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