Indo-Canadian documentary filmmaker wins lifetime achievement award at Hot Docs

Published on May 09, 2021 12:23 PM IST

Lalita Krishna from Toronto, who has been making documentaries for over 20 years, was named winner of the prestigious Don Haig Award

Indo-Canadian filmmaker Lalita Krishna (Coutery Lalita Krishna)
Indo-Canadian filmmaker Lalita Krishna (Coutery Lalita Krishna)

Filmmaker Lalita Krishna, who has been making documentaries for over 20 years, has become the first person from the Indian-Canadian community to win a prestigious lifetime achievement award at Hot Docs, North America’s biggest documentary film festival.

Toronto-based Krishna, who grew up in Kolkata and worked in Delhi’s advertising sector before moving to Canada, has been named winner of the Don Haig Award.

The 28th edition of the popular film festival, an 11-day-long affair, is taking place virtually this year due to Covid-19 protocols. It concludes on Sunday.

Krishna told HT the award was particularly meaningful as it’s “given to the body of work over a period of time and so it recognises a producer who’s contributed over a span of time”.

Just as Don Haig, an Oscar-winning Canadian filmmaker was known for mentorship, the award involves naming an emerging female filmmaker who would receive a cash prize courtesy the Don Haig Foundation.

The recognition is special for Krishna because she said it meant “paying it forward” and her choice for the cash prize is Bangladeshi director Elizabeth D Costa.

D Costa was assistant director of the documentary film Bangla Surf Girls, produced and directed by Krishna, which premiered at Hot Docs this year.

The film is about three young girls from Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, who find escape from social restrictions in surfing the waves of the Bay of Bengal.

Recalling the making of Bangla Surf Girls, Krishna said, “She (D Costa) happened to mention this and I said, ‘You know, you should do it and I’ll help you with it,’ and then she was hesitant because she’s never done a film on her own before. So I said, ‘We will make it happen,’ and that’s how we kind of stayed with it. It’s been a four-year journey and we are here today.”

Hot Docs programmer Mariam Zaidi described the film as a “touching coming-of-age story of resistance” that will have the viewer “cheering for every wave and hurdle these young women overcome”.

In the citation for the lifetime achievement award recipient, Hot Docs noted, “Passionate about diversity and inclusion, Lalita’s films reflect her strong belief in empowering underrepresented voices.”

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    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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