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Hot Docs Industry and the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Doc Fund Fellows Take the Durban FilmMart and Durban International Film Festival by storm


In June 2016, Hot Docs industry programs director Elizabeth Radshaw and myself, industry programmer of funds and Hot Docs Deal Maker Heidi Tao Yang, took an epic back-to-back trip to Durban FilmMart (DFM)/Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) with the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Doc Fund (HD-BIG) fellows and alumni, and to Sunny Side of the Doc in La Rochelle.


The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund took three projects to DFM and DIFF as the second part of their mentorship, which began at the 2016 Hot Docs Festival. The participating projects and fellows include:

  • As I Want (D: Samaher Alqadi)
  • The Letter (D: Maia Von Lekow, Chris King)
  • The Other Half of the African Sky (D: Tapiwa Chipfupa)

During the HD-BIG fellow’s week-long intensive lab at Hot Docs we focused on developing their individual projects by asking critical story questions, learning about the international documentary landscape and its key players, learned how to put one`s best foot forward in a pitch, worked through case studies with special guests, and had focused and engaged discussions around the documentary art form. Since Hot Docs, each project has been paired with our mentors, Cynthia Kane, Klara Grunning, and Ricardo Acosta, to hone each film’s focus and story, develop their pitch documents, and work on a compelling teaser to take to markets, festivals, and beyond. During DFM, The Letter participated in the Project Pitch, while As I Want and The Other Half of the African Sky took meetings with financiers in the Finance Forum. In the short time between Hot Docs and DFM, all the projects progressed immensely, and these filmmakers will continue to work with Hot Docs and their assigned mentors over the course of the year.

Also in attendance were HD-BIG alumnus Wizard of Zim (D: Samora Sekhukhune), which won the most promising documentary project at the DFM Pitch, and The Revolution Won’t Be Televised (D: Rama Thiaw), which had its African premiere at DIFF, and many other former alumni of Hot Docs.

Elizabeth and I then rounded out our trip by attending Sunny Side of the Doc to celebrate Canada as the 2016 country of honour and support Canadian projects.

We also got to catch up with HD-BIG alumnus Sitou Ayité and Bouna Cherif Fofana from Togo, who were pitching and meeting with buyers with their project Terre Jaune.

We will continue to work with our fellows and alumnus over the year help them take their projects to the next stage. The HD-BIG Fund has supported 40 films to date, and we’re now looking for the next crop of projects and filmmakers to support!

The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Doc Fund 2016 applications are open, and close on August 19, 2016, 5:00 p.m. EST. For more information about the application, please visit CLICK HERE or email Heidi Tao Yang at [email protected]

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