HDF2 2014 bnr by Joseph Michael Howarth

Hot Docs Forum Submissions

The below guidelines are from the 2016 Festival, and are for reference only.

Submissions for the 2017 Festival will open on November 9, 2016, with a final deadline of January 9, 2017.

Questions? Check out our Forum FAQs.

Submission Fee
$45.00 CAD must be submitted along with the Project Entry Form. All major credit cards are accepted.

You will receive a confirmation from our offices within three weeks of your submission.

Required Information

  • Primary contact information
  • Title, genre, duration, language, format, date of principle photography, projected date of release, production country
  • Pitch category and pitch type
  • Type of support (commission, acquisition, pre-buy, co-production, and/or distribution)
  • Stage of production (development, production or rough cut)
  • Short synopsis (approximately 350 words)
  • One-page treatment (approximately 850 words)
  • Short status report (approximately 500 words)
  • Other forums and buyers pitched (if applicable)
  • Co-production partner information (if applicable)
  • Committed market partner information
  • Confirmed financial sources
  • Top line budget
  • Financing scenario
  • Key creative and production personnel biographies
  • Short description of the outreach and engagement strategy (approximately 550 words)
  • Short description of the distribution strategy (approximately 550 words)
  • Description of the digital media component/cross platform strategy (approximately 550 words) images, sketches or screen grabs may be submitted to support this description

Required Documents

The following supporting documentation is required to complete the application, and may be uploaded directly into the submission form:

  • Letter or email of commitment from “trigger financier” (required for regular category only). Alternately, if the trigger is a successful crowdfunding campaign, please submit a screen capture.
  • One-page production budget in the applicant’s local currency and in US dollars
  • Trailer, teaser, or clips sent via a single streamable link of film footage or visuals (still or moving) from a digital media prototype (optional for regular category, required for rough cut category).


Applicants will be notified of the selection committee’s decision in March 2016.

Chosen projects have one week to accept the offered pitch slot, pay the registration fee, and provide verification of text for publication.

Each pitch team must consist of a minimum of two and maximum of three members (not including the trigger financier).

The registration fee is $734.50 ($650 plus 13% HST) CAD per pitch team member. The registration fee includes a Hot Docs All-Access pass, consultations with industry programmer and Hot Docs Forum producer Dorota Lech, and a private pre-Forum pitch training session with our expert trainers.

Please note: Applications for the Hot Docs Forum are accepted by online submission only. Please do not send anything by post or email to the Hot Docs office.


Regular Category
Includes feature, broadcast length, series and cross-platform pitches

Independent production companies are eligible to enter documentary projects currently in development or production.

To be eligible, the project must have:

  • financial commitment from a third-party market partner (broadcaster, distributor, sales agent, online platform, eligible film board/film institute) who must attend the Hot Docs Forum to co-present. We accept successful crowdfunding campaigns as third-party triggers. If applicable, successful crowdfunding campaigns should be a part of your financing package. Any additional information will be at the discretion of the selection committee.
  • a minimum of approximately 15 per cent (but no more than 75 per cent) of its financing in place; existing financing must include arms-length, third-party monies from the marketplace; in Canada, the existing financing can also include, but cannot solely consist of, federal and provincial tax credits. Please note that the 15 percent minimum can be obtained through a combination of financiers.

If available, a trailer or scene selects are encouraged. A maximum of 10 minutes of footage may be submitted with the application. Trailers must be hosted on an independent website and submitted via a link. Trailers can be password protected, but must remain live until March 2016.

Two projects may be entered per production company.

Rough Cut Category

Independent production companies are eligible to enter documentary projects (broadcast or feature-length) currently at a rough cut stage that have not yet secured market financing (e.g. broadcaster or distributor).

The submission of a trailer or scene selects is required for the Rough Cut category. A maximum of 20 minutes of footage may be submitted with the application. Trailers must be hosted on an independent website and submitted via a link. Trailers must be live until March 2016.

Selected rough cut projects will be made available as part of The Doc Shop for the duration of Hot Docs.

One entry may be entered per production company.


Entries including more than the requested documentation and exceeding the word count will not be accepted.

If your application is incomplete, you will be notified and asked to supply additional information.

The text submitted at the acceptance deadline will be reproduced in the Hot Docs Forum Catalogue.

Selected projects will be contacted in order to update the information submitted in the original application.

Only independent production companies will be considered.

Hot Docs Industry Programs decision is final and individual feedback is not guaranteed if your application is unsuccessful.

Hot Docs Industry Programs reserve the right to change the guidelines or procedures at any time.

Hot Docs Industry Programs will not take rights or liabilities in projects selected.

Projects selected and participating in the Hot Docs Forum are required to credit the Hot Docs Forum logo in their final credits.

Your application and participation implies acceptance of the above terms.

All Partners >

Presenting Platinum Partner

  • logo Scotiabank

Presenting Partners

  • logo Bell-Media
  • logo documentary-Channel
  • logo Rogers

Major Supporters

  • logo Celebrate-Ontario
  • logo telefilm