Mexico’s ‘The Queendom’ Nabs First Look Prize at Hot Docs Forum

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“The Queendom,” one of 20 projects presented at Hot Docs’ marquee market event, the Forum, has won the First Look first prize of Can. $25,000 cash, one of three pitch prizes announced Thursday at the festival.

The documentary and science-fiction hybrid—about three Indigenous scientists, all women, who decide to partner with mushrooms to fight for their territories—is directed by Otilia Portillo and produced by Paula Arroio Sandoval for Mexico’s Oscura Producciones S.A. de C.V. Elena Fortes is executive producer.

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Second prize and Can. $15,000 was awarded to “A Woman’s Path,” about a woman who is betrayed by her family and forced to leave her nomadic life with the Bakhtiari tribe. The documentary is directed by Marjan Khosravi; its producers are Milad Khosravi and Stephanie Von Lukowicz for Seven Spring Pictures (Iran) and Lukimedia (Spain).

Hot Docs’ First Look is a curated access program for philanthropic investors in documentary film; the Forum’s First Look pitch-prize winners are chosen by the program’s current participant-investors after they have viewed all Forum pitches.

“Untitled Labor Union Documentary,” a portrait of workers at an Amazon fulfillment center who are fighting to unionize, won the 2022 CMF-Hot Docs Forum Canadian Pitch Prize and a $10,000 cash prize. The film is directed by Brett Story and Stephen Maing, and produced by Mars Verrone and Samantha Curley for Level Ground Productions LLC (U.S.) and Oh Ratface Films (Canada).

The CMF-Hot Docs Forum Canadian Pitch Prize, presented in partnership with the Canada Media Fund, is awarded to the best Canadian pitch and is intended to support the production and completion of the winning project.

“The resilience and creativity of our documentary creators and dedicated support from the decision-maker community are most powerfully displayed in this 2022 edition of the Hot Docs Forum,” said Hot Docs’ industry programs director Elizabeth Radshaw in a statement.

“The 20 teams who pitched in the Forum spent months, sometimes years, preparing for moments like this,” commented Forum producer Dorota Lech. “The expertise and knowledge around this table will legitimize, support, and help launch these films, and (Hot Docs is) honored to be a step on (the filmmakers’) artistic journeys.”

All Forum pitches, as well as the Industry LIVE conference sessions and related content, are available for industry pass-holders to stream on the festival’s industry platform until May 31.

Of the 26 filmmakers participating in 2022 Forum project pitches more than half are women, and more than half are BIPOC. Forum projects were presented to a live digital room of more than 50 documentary financiers and decision-makers and other observers. Fifty-five additional doc projects participated in pre-arranged meetings in the festival’s Deal Maker program, while another 114 took part in Distribution Rendezvous.

Hot Docs also announced that 1,941 registered delegates from 74 countries participated in live or online market, conference, and screening programs this year.

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