Women Filmmakers and Women's Issues Carry Top Prizes at 2003 Toronto Film Documentary Festival

Sunday, May 11 2003
Women Filmmakers and Women's Issues Carry Top Prizes at 2003 Toronto Film Documentary Festival
Three Quebec independent filmmakers, Ève Lamont, Raymonde Provencher and Carole Laganière, took top honours Sunday night at Toronto's International Documentary Film Festival, "Hot Docs".
Montreal firebrand Ève Lamont received the Best Direction Award - Feature for "Squat!", a gripping day-by-day account of the Summer 2001 occupation and cooperative management of an abandoned building in east end Montreal, by street people and other social 'misfits'. Filming both inside and outside the Préfontaine St. squat, this long-time independent activist filmmaker depicted Montreal TV journalists building a reactionary frenzy and politicians and cops ousting the occupants after going back on their agreement to let them move in and refurbish this building.
The jury chose "Squat!" out of nine nominated features, for "the director's bold and compassionate journey into a politically charged and inconvenient subject matter." Jury members Arsinée Khanjian, Brenda Longfellow, and Steven Silver also honoured Lamont with the festival's Humanitarian Prize, given each year to "a Canadian filmmaker who has made a particularly powerful social issue or political documentary that exemplifies humanitarian values". They commended "Squat!" for its "surprising and inventive structure portraying a community otherwise rejected for its social raison d'être". The Best Canadian Documentary, Feature Length, Award went to Toronto director John Kastner's "Rage Against the Darkness," a moving portrait of womenbeginning life again as seniors.
Two other Quebec women filmmakers walked away with top honours. Carole Laganière won the Award for Best Short or Medium-Length Documentary with "The Moon and the Violin", a warm portrait of senior citizens who live at the Chez-Nous des artistes home in Montreal. Michele Landsberg sat on that award's jury. Laganière also took Second place for the Festival's Audience Award, given this year to yet another Quebec woman filmmaker, Raymonde Provencher, who directed "War Babies", about the thousands of women who have suffered wartime rape and given birth to babies fathered by the enemy.
Female filmmakers from other countries and key women's issues also placed high on the Hot Docs hit list. Elaine Epstein, a U.S. citizen won a Special Jury Prize for "State of Denial", an unflinching look at how the citizens of South Africa are living with the AIDS epidemic, given the climate of confusion and neglect perpetuated by President Thabo Mbeki's administration. In the National Spotlight category, Kim Longinotto won the Best Documentary Award for "The Day I will Never Forget", an exploration of the cultural beliefs behind the ritual of female genital mutilation, and the Africanwomen who bravely fight to end this tradition. A film on the serial murder of sixteen prostituted women in Iran, "And Along Came the Spider", also received a Honourable Mention in the International Documentary Film category.
More at http://www.hotdocs.ca/media_press.cfm?media_id=128

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