Broadcaster Magazine

Hot Docs Announces Recipient of Outstanding Achievement Award

The Hot Docs Board of Directors is pleased to announce that it has chosen masterful American documentary filmmaker Les Blank as the recipient of its 2013 Outstanding Achievement Award. As part of the honour, Hot Docs will screen a retrospective during the 20th annual Festival, April 25 to May 5, celebrating Blank’s distinguished career as a director, producer and cinematographer. Hot Docs will also pay tribute to Canadian filmmaker Peter Mettler, subject of this year’s Focus On retrospective, and showcase recent works from Poland in its Made In program.

“It’s an honour and a pleasure that Les Blank has accepted this year’s Outstanding Achievement Award,” says Hot Docs director of programming Charlotte Cook. “His is an incredible body of work that explores culture, music, personality and beyond with grace, humour and the highest calibre of craft, and one which has also inspired generations of filmmakers. I can’t wait to bring this retrospective to the Festival and celebrate Les’ wonderful work.”

Born in Tampa, Florida, on November 27, 1935, Les Blank is known for his poetic work, which offers intimate, idiosyncratic glimpses into the lives, culture, and music of passionate people at the periphery of American society. Blank has worked on over 35 films throughout a career spanning more than 50 years. He is perhaps best known for his feature-length Burden of Dreams (1982), documenting the chaotic production of Werner Herzog’s 1982 film Fitzcarraldo in the jungles of South America. The documentary won the 1983 BAFTA for Best Documentary, and was also named “Best of Festival” at the San Francisco Film Festival the same year. Blank’s credits as director include Blues Accordin’ To Lightinn’ Hopkins (1969); Chulas Fronteras (1976); Always for Pleasure (1978); Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers (1980); In Heaven there is No Beer? (1984); Gap-Toothed Women (1987); and All in this Tea (2007). Major retrospectives of his films have been mounted worldwide and he has been the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association, the American Film Institute’s Maya Deren Award for outstanding lifetime achievement as an independent filmmaker, and the Edward MacDowell Medal. Blank is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

Films in the 2013 Outstanding Achievement Award Retrospective program will be announced in March.

The Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award is presented annually by the Hot Docs Board of Directors in recognition of a filmmaker’s enduring contribution to the documentary form. Past recipients and Hot Docs guests include Michel Brault (2012), Terence Macartney-Filgate (2011), Kim Longinotto (2010), Alanis Obomsawin (2009), Richard Leacock (2008), Heddy Honigmann (2007), Werner Herzog (2006), Errol Morris (2005), Michael Maclear (2004), Nick Broomfield (2003), Frederick Wiseman (2002), D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus (2000) and Albert Maysles (1999).

Hot Docs will also pay tribute to Peter Mettler with this year’s Focus On retrospective, an annual program showcasing the work of a mid-career Canadian filmmaker.

 “We are thrilled that Peter will be joining us for this retrospective,” says Cook. “His exploration of imagery, theme and the boundaries of documentary are fascinating and compelling. An absolute visionary, Peter utilises numerous mediums to innovate and expand the non-fiction art form and we look forward to celebrating the crucial contributions his work has made both in Canada and throughout the world.”

Mettler is known for a diversity of work in image and sound mediums, but also a photographer and groundbreaking live audio and visual mixing performer. As a key figure in the critical wave of 80’s Canadian filmmakers, he produced works which elude categorization. His films bridge the gap between experimental, narrative, personal essay, and documentary. He has collaborated with an extensive range of international artists and has been honoured with awards and retrospectives worldwide. Mettler’s documentary film credits include Picture of Light (1994); Gambling, Gods and LSD (2002); Manufactured Landscapes (as cinematographer and creative consultant, 2006); and the recently completed feature length documentary The End of Time (2012).

Past Focus On honorees include John Kastner (2012), Alan Zweig (2011), Tahani Rached (2010), Ron Mann (2009), Jennifer Baichwal (2008), Kevin McMahon (2007), Serge Giguère (2006), Larry Weinstein (2005), Nettie Wild (2004), Shelley Saywell (2003) and Zacharias Kunuk (2002).

This year’s Made In program will highlight recent documentaries from Poland, and film titles will be announced in March.

“We are thrilled to be showcasing the filmmaking of Poland this year and welcoming a delegation of Polish filmmakers to the festival,” says Cook. “Poland’s contribution to documentary has been vast, and it’s a joy to be able to share the incredible new work coming from the country this year with our audience.”

Past Made In programs have focused on films from Southeastern Europe (2012), Italy (2011), South America (2010), South Korea (2009), Mexico (2008), Brazil (2007), Japan (2006), South Africa (2004) and Taiwan (2003). 

Industry registration for Hot Docs will open online ( on February, 6, 2013.