alanis obomsawin tiff

Filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin will be given the Outstanding Achievement Award at Hot Docs. (Jeff Bear) (Jeff Bear)

Canadian filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin, who has been focusing her camera on aboriginal stories for more than 40 years, is to be given the Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2009 Hot Docs festival in Toronto.

Hot Docs, one of the world's most prominent documentary festivals, will also host a retrospective of her work this May.

Obomsawin has made films with the National Film Board since 1967. They include:

  • Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance,1993.
  • Richard Cardinal: Cry from a Diary of a Métis Child, 1986.
  • Waban-Aki: People from Where the Sun Rises, 2006.

"One of Canada's most distinguished and uncompromising documentary filmmakers, Alanis Obomsawin's collected works offer an insightful and unflinching perspective on the social realities facing Canada's First Nations communities," organizers of Hot Docs said in a statement released Monday.

There was a retrospective of Obomsawin's work last year at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and she won the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.

The festival also plans to pay tribute to Toronto filmmaker Ron Mann in its Focus On retrospective, which annually showcases the work of a mid-career Canadian filmmaker.

Mann's documentaries tell the stories of alternative and dissident cultures. He looked at free jazz in Imagine the Sound, graphic novels with Comic Book Confidential and recreational marijuana use with the film Grass.

Both Obomsawin and Mann plan to attend the Hot Docs festival, which runs April 30 to May 10.

This year's Hot Docs festival also will include a focus on the films of South Korea and a retrospective that looks at 70 years of filmmaking at the NFB, Canada's pioneering studio for animation and documentary techniques.

Organizers plan to ask filmmakers and other public figures to choose their favourite NFB films for the retrospective.