Best Canadian Feature Film Winner

Silvicola by Jean-Philippe Marquis

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Best Canadian Short Film Winner

Losing Blue by Leanne Allison

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Best International Feature Winner

!AITSA by Dane Dodds

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Best International Short Winner

I Won’t Stand For It by Caroline Bacle

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Mark Haslam Award Winner

A Golden Life by Boubacar Sangaré

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People’s Choice Award

s-yéwyáw / Awaken by Liz Marshall

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Green Pitch Winner

Acid by Victoria Lean

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Best Canadian Feature Jury 

Getta Sondhi

A veteran of unscripted, filmmaker Geeta Sondhi’s recent directing credits include The Art of Downsizing, Stand Up Toronto! and acclaimed viral hit 100 & Counting: Secrets to a Long Life (CBC Gem). A producer of internationally successful work from feature-length to series, Geeta has also programmed films for TIFF, worked alongside doc luminaries at the NFB, managed funding programs for the OMDC and pioneered web programming. Most recently Geeta was Creative Producer on Deepa Mehta & Sirat Taneja’s ground-breaking doc I Am Sirat (TIFF, VIFF and BFI London Film Fest 2023). She is currently running Nisha Pahuja’s globally acclaimed To Kill A Tiger’s Impact Campaign (US Theatrical Premiere Oct 19, 2023, Film Forum NYC). Originally from Kenya, Geeta resides in Canada.

Lalita Krishna

Lalita Krishna is an award- winning documentary filmmaker whose films have screened on major Canadian and international networks, and featured at film festivals around the world. Lalita’s documentaries have been acclaimed for bringing important topics to the forefront and have often been a catalyst for social change. In addition to winning major awards for her films, Lalita is also the recipient of the 2021 Hot Docs Don Haig award, the 2013 Crystal Award for mentorship given by WIFT(Women in Film and Television), the Trailblazer(2012) award given by the Reel World Film Festival and the Dream Catcher award given by the Hope and Dreams Festival NJ, for using her craft to better humanity.

Caroline Underwood

Caroline Underwood is an Executive Producer and a Wildlife & Science Documentary Consultant. From 2008-2015 she was Senior Producer/Commissioning Editor for The Nature of Things, the CBC’s flagship science series. Recent series include The Wild Canadian Year, Equus: The Story of the Horse,  Wild Canada and The Great Human Odyssey. She has been involved with Planet in Focus for more than 17 years. She has produced, directed and written more than twenty-five of her own award-winning documentaries for The Nature of Things and independent production companies. The focus of her work has been the natural world and she has travelled to many remote locations, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, to reveal the beauty, complexity and the threats facing some of the planet’s last great wildernesses and their inhabitants.

Best International Feature Film Jury

Jolien Walhof

Jolien is an Impact Director at WaterBear, a production studio and free streaming platform with a mission to spark change in the world. We bring inspiration and action together through films and campaigns – spanning a range of topics like biodiversity, ocean conservation and climate action. As an Impact Marketing Director at WaterBear Network Jolien is responsible for tentpole impact campaigns, the partnerships with our NGO network, our product impact strategy & broader impact marketing activities. We run our biggest campaigns across environmental and social issues whilst implementing an ‘always-on’ impact strategy to enable actions after watching films through our product and other channels. She is also part of the Editorial Team, managing a team of 3 people which includes our NGO Marketing Manager, Impact designer & Community Manager.

Aeyliya Hussain

Aeyliya Husain is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work focuses on issues of representation, women, and photography. She has exhibited at festivals both nationally and internationally with her films The World at Ten, Daughters of the Revolution, and Shooting War which was nominated for best short documentary at Tribeca Film Festival. These films have also screened at San Francisco Docfest; Glasgow Short Film Festival and São Paulo Film Festival and have been broadcast on CBC, BBC, RSI (Swiss Public TV) and France 4. Her most recent film ‘The Fifth Region’ had it’s premiere at the ImagineNATIVE Film Festival (October 2018) and aired on The Documentary Channel, SBS Australia, Knowledge Network, amongst others. She is currently in production on a feature doc, ‘Unfinished Journey’, that follows 4 Afghan women MPs as they fled their country and are settling in Canada while continuing to fight for women’s rights in their country. An international co-production between CBC, Arte/France & ERT Greece.

Lars Ostenfeld

Director Lars Ostenfeld has many years of experience within science and nature documentary. Most recently he directed and filmed episodes of DR’s major nature series Wild, Wonderful Denmark and the documentary Tracking the Wolf. Together with DTU Space and astrophysicist Anja C. Andersen of the Niels Bohr Institute, he was also behind DR’s Live from Space, in which 360-degree live footage was sent from space for the first time using a balloon with live-streaming cameras. Lars is also the creator of The Polar Bear Live, which was streamed directly to 200 TV screens during the climate summit COP22 and Live from the Depths, broadcasted live from a submarine 40 metres underwater and 100 kilometres offshore at the bottom of the North Sea. His Film, Into the Ice won Best International Feature at Planet in Focus 2022.

Best Canadian Short Film Jury

Gabriela Osio Vanden

Gabriela Osio Vanden is an award-winning Venezuelan/Canadian cinematographer based in Toronto. With a BFA in Film Production from York University, her thesis film Rambler was awarded an internship with Phedon Papamichael ASC GSC. Gabriela brings her background in visual arts and an intuitive aesthetic to elevate the projects she works on, whether that be documentary, narrative film/television or commercials. Her projects have screened at TIFF, Camerimage, SXSW, IDFA, Sheffield DocFest and True/False. Nuisance Bear (2021), co-directed and shot by Gabriela, won the Critics Choice Award for Best Short Documentary, along with an Outstanding Non-Fiction Short Award at Cinema Eyes Honors and was shortlisted for the 95th Academy Awards.

Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson is an Anishinaabe (Aamjiwnaang) award-winning filmmaker and multimedia artist. Her projects have won a Genie and Canadian Screen Award and have screened at Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW, Berlinale, and Hot Docs. In 2020, she launched Door Number 3 Productions and is currently in post-production on the feature hybrid documentary Wilfred Buck. She is a recipient of the 2022 Chicken & Egg Award and the 2021 DOC Vanguard Award and holds an MFA from York University.

James J. Yi

Born in Seoul and raised in San Francisco, James J. Yi is a passionate filmmaker dedicated to producing films  that push creative and intellectual boundaries. He has worked on thought-provoking titles such as Mooz-Lum  (2010), Detroit Unleaded (2012), Twinsters (2015), A Boy, A Girl, and A Dream (2018), and Miss Purple (2019).  In 2017, he produced the Sundance NEXT Audience Award winning film, Gook, directed by Justin Chon. He  now resides in Toronto where he launched his new company, No Return Media. James has a vision for  producing and supporting a new generation of Canadian filmmakers and is actively developing home grown  Canadian BiPOC films while continuing to collaborate with filmmakers all around the world.

Best International Short Film Jury

Florencia Santucho

Florencia Santucho, after working in TV in Rome, studied film at IDAC in Buenos Aires. Filmmaker, cultural manager, producer, programmer, she is currently director of the FICDH and FINCA film festivals in Argentina and of the FINCADH in Paraguay. She is a member of the Boards of the Green Film Network and the Human Rights Film Network. Specialised in reducing the environmental impact of cultural productions and events, she has been working for Fremantle Italy and other productions as Green Manager since 2022.

Juliana Curi

Juliana Curi is an award-winning Brazilian-Latina film director. Influenced by the Brazilian Cinema Novo movement and rooted in her journalism background, she has a body of work dedicated to crafting films and imagery at the confluence of art and activism. She was awarded by UN Women, signed the exhibitions Pink Intervention (Spotte Art NY Gallery, Artsy), The Battle of the Body at Centro Cultural São Paulo (São Paulo Cultural Center) and founded the filmmaking inclusion project EUETU Lab, which aims to strengthen the inclusion of indigenous, black, LGBTQIA+ and peripheral youth in the filmmaking industry. In 2022, she premiered her first feature film “UYRA – THE RISING FOREST”, internationally critically acclaimed featured in outlets such as Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and the Golden Globes Hollywood Press Association. The film went through 35 festivals, won 15 awards, including the 2022 Mark Haslam Award at Planet in Focus.

Will Jameson

Will is responsible for producing One World Media’s flagship event, the One World Media Awards, the OWM Global Reporting Summit happening in Nairobi and London this year and the organization’s year-round events programme. He has worked in events and festivals for over twenty years mainly in the UK and Africa. He founded the award winning Lake of Stars Festival in Malawi and has gone on to create other festivals in southern Africa including a Day of Ideas with the EU, the Children’s Future Festival with UNICEF and the Lilongwe Shorts Film Festival. He has organised a peace concert in South Sudan, music tours from South Africa to Mozambique and launched NGO Girl Effect’s youth brand across Malawi with a series of music videos, workshops, screenings and roadshows. 

Mark Haslam Award Jury

Julian Carrington

Planet in Focus Programmer

Julian Carrington is a freelance writer and film programmer based in Toronto. He has contributed to publications including The Globe & Mail, Indiewire, and Cinema Scope, and, in 2014, served as a programming associate with the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2015, he became manger of the Documentary Organization of Canada’s Festival Concierge initiative, supporting filmmakers in developing distribution and audience engagement strategies. Julian joined Planet in Focus as the festival’s associate programmer in 2016.

Lesley Johnson

Planet in Focus Programmer

Lesley Johnson is a director, producer and programmer, based in Toronto and Yellowknife. She studied Film Production in York University’s MFA program, and holds degrees in wildlife and environmental sciences. Before becoming a filmmaker, she worked in community-based research in the Northwest Territories, and on studies chasing after the likes of terns and wolverines. She is the former director and programmer of the Yellowknife International Film Festival, and of a Cinema Politica chapter.