Hot Docs 2013 – and “Out of the Main Swim”

The festival has announced the winners at the 20th edition of the big North American documentary festival. Debra Zimmermann was the Doc Mogul Award winner of this year, of course well deserved for her great work within Women Make Movies. Les Blank, who died beginning of April this year, was honored, the American director who was famous for his humorous and original personal essays like “Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers” and “Gap-Toothed Women” as well as for music docs like “Chulas Fronteras” and the films about/with Werner Herzog, “Burden of dreams” and “Werner Herzog Eats his Shoes”.

Apart from the many North American/Canadian documentaries awarded, a couple of international films were taken to the stage for recognition: The German film from China, “Dragon Girls” by Inigo Westmeier, the Chinese “Cloudy Mountains” by Zhu Yu, an ecological drama and “The Circle” by Belgian Bram Conjaerts.

Difficult to evaluate the festival when you have not been there, but Scottish Emma Davie, director of “I am Breathing” (photo), attended to present her film and has written a fine enthusiastic text, from which I would like to quote. I am sure she will not disagree:

“HotWarm reception of our film at this fab Hot Docs festival in Toronto where audiences have multiplied over the years.  Such is this city’s passion for documentary that there is now a cinema called The Bloor which shows nothing but documentaries all year – I AM BREATHING will show there on

on June 21st – a “cherished cultural form” in Canada, with the same significance as “the beaver, the colour red and Maple Leaf tartan.”  He quotes that great Canadian thinker  Marshall McLuhan who felt that Canadians were inherently good observers because “when you are out of the main swim, as it were, you have a much better opportunity of seeing what’s going on.”

More than ever, Canada needs the subversive, transgressive vision that documentary can bring. This country, once famed for its open-mindedness, is now home to the environmentally catastrophic tar sand extraction and some shocking initiatives by the current conservative government.”

Read the whole text from Emma Davie, link below and what The Hollywood Reporter wrote about her film: “Intimate documentary examining a normal-but-remarkable man and wife’s handling of his fatal disease ranks among the year’s most moving films.”

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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