FAQ Index

FAQs: Box Office & Tickets

How do I purchase and stream films for the Hot Docs 2021 Festival?

Please refer to our full Festival FAQs >>.

FAQs: Health & Safety

How do I reserve my seat online?

We strongly encourage booking tickets online, in advance of your screening.


To book your online ticket, visit our in-cinema schedule, select the film of your choice and then choose the screening time that is best for you and your preferred seat(s). You will be required to create or sign-in to your Hot Docs account. Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are accepted for all online sales.


All seats are reserved-only. In compliance with physical distancing guidelines, all guests will automatically have “buffer seats” built in between them and other attendees.


Please have your ticket ready for scanning (print-at-home copy, or on your phone). Our volunteers will scan your ticket and direct you to your reserved seats upon arrival.


Hot Docs is committed to keeping our cinema accessible to all guests and has made every effort to ensure accessibility and companion seating is still available. On our seat selection page, there is a button that asks if accessible seating is needed. Clicking on that button will give you access to our accessible seats, which are physically distanced from other available seats.


Click here for Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema’s Accessibility policies and procedures.

I have a ticket to a film, how early will I be able to enter the cinema to find a seat?

We recommend arriving at least 15 minutes before your scheduled screening. Doors will open approximately 45 minutes before showtime, allowing for a thorough cleaning of the cinema in between screenings.

What if I’m not feeling well and I already have a ticket?

If you are not feeling well, please stay home and contact us at [email protected] prior to the start of your movie showtime. We will gladly issue a refund.

How can I show proof of COVID-19 vaccination?

In accordance with Ontario’s Vaccine Certification program, proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 will be required to enter the Cinema.


Please bring a government issued photo ID matching the name on your documentation. Paper and electronic proof is accepted.


Valid proofs of COVID-19 vaccination:
– Ontario Ministry of Health 2nd Dose Administration Receipt
– Provincially Issued Vaccine Certificate from Quebec, Manitoba or British Columbia
– Receipt of vaccine administration from other provincial ministries of health
– * Proof of vaccination of a federally approved vaccine from outside of Canada which includes the name of the vaccine, the date the 2nd dose was administered, name and date of birth.


* Proof issued must show that the visitor has received two doses of one of the following federally approved vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, or Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (1 dose only).

Are there any exemptions to proof of vaccination?

In accordance with Ontario’s vaccine certification program, the only exemptions to proof of vaccination will be for patrons under 12 years old accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult, and those with medical exemptions (a doctor’s note must be provided).


Please email us at [email protected] before your screening.

Is it mandatory for everyone in the theatre to wear masks?

In accordance with Toronto Public Health guidelines, all guests are required to wear a mask that covers their mouth, chin and nose at all times. Masks may be removed briefly while seated to eat and drink, but we ask that you keep it on otherwise.

What physical distancing measures do you have in place?

All seats are reserved-only. In compliance with physical distancing guidelines, all guests will automatically have “buffer seats” built in between them and other attendees. Guests are required to sit in their reserved seat for the duration of the movie, and not sit in empty seats or rows. If a seat change is needed, please contact our box office (include contact link) for assistance.


Signage reminding guests to ensure physical distancing will be available in common areas throughout the building, including in our auditoriums, concessions and washrooms.


We ask that all guests not lining up for concessions, find their seats immediately in order to keep the lobby clear.


Guests will be asked to leave the cinema after their screening. To minimize crowding, please exit the Cinema row by row.

Are food and drinks available at the Cinema?

Yes. A selection of concessions offerings will be available for purchase, including popcorn, drinks, candy, and licensed beverages including beer and wine. You can view our updated menu HERE.


Please consider sending one person from your group to make your order.

What is Hot Docs Cinema doing to ensure safety at for staff and audiences at concessions?

To maximize safety precautions at concessions, we have taken the following steps:

  • Concessions staff are wearing masks and practicing enhanced sanitation and disinfection protocols, in accordance with Toronto Public Health.
  • We have installed Plexiglas partitions at every point of sale as a protective barrier between our staff and our guests.
  • We will be strongly encouraging contactless debit or credit transactions (including American Express)

What is your infection tracing policy?

If any staff, volunteers or patrons report testing positive for COVID-19, we will immediately take action by finding out when, over the last 14 days, this individual was in our building. Ticket holders in attendance that day will be notified by email and urged to get tested.

We will require all staff and volunteers who come in contact with an infected person to get tested for COVID-19 before returning to work.


Hot Docs has put mitigating measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, attending in-person events could increase your risk of contraction. By entering the venue, you voluntarily assume all risks and agree that you and your guests will not hold Hot Docs liable for any illness that may result.

FAQs: Festival Volunteers

What is the application process like?

We ask potential volunteers to fill out our application form and attend one of our orientation sessions in March and April.

We don’t hold any one-on-one interviews, but are happy to meet with new volunteers at the orientation sessions.

When will I hear back about my application?

While applications open in September, you will not hear from us regarding next steps until the beginning of February.

Is there an age requirement to volunteer?

Yes, all volunteers must be at least 18 years of age due to the restricted content of some of the Festival films.

What is covered in an orientation session?

Orientation sessions address Hot Docs’ history and practices, with special attention to:

a) What kinds of opportunities are available?
Hot Docs offers our volunteers the chance to develop their skills, and offers roles in leadership, special events, industry, theatre operations, administration, marketing, and more.

b) What is the online scheduling system?
Our online scheduling system for volunteers is called the Volunteer Portal. You will receive access to the Portal after attending an orientation session, where the basics of the system are reviewed.

c) What kinds of benefits are available?
For every shift that’s completed, a volunteer will receive one or more vouchers. Vouchers are distributed at the end of each shift and can be redeemed for Festival tickets or at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers year-round. Other benefits may depend on the volunteer position.

Do I have to attend a training session?

All new volunteers must attend one orientation session; volunteers will not be invited to participate in the Festival without attending.

Some positions may require additional training. Training sessions will take place after the orientation sessions. While some sessions may not be mandatory, we do recommend attending as it provides on-site experience.

Following the sessions, we do post training materials and manuals on the Volunteer Portal.

How many shifts do I have to complete during the Festival? How long is each shift?

We ask all volunteers to complete FOUR shifts with us during the Hot Docs Festival (pre-Festival shifts DO NOT count toward this minimum). You are welcome to complete more than four shifts, but we advise against doing too many (we want you to see films and have fun)!

Shifts range in length but generally last between four and seven hours. There are a few shifts that may be more than seven hours in length.

Do you offer pre-Festival shifts?

We do offer some very limited opportunities before the Festival. Please note that pre-Festival shifts DO NOT count toward the four shift minimum all volunteers are required to complete.

Most of these shifts are with our street marketing team and in our volunteer or main office. They are a great way to stack up some vouchers to use during the Festival!

Can I sign up for two shifts in one day?

The scheduling system we use does not limit you from signing up for two shifts in one day.

Please be mindful of overlaps and travel time between locations.

What do I have to wear for a shift?

Volunteers are asked to wear the official Hot Docs volunteer t-shirt, clean, appropriate and tidy bottoms, and comfortable shoes while on shift. There are some exceptions to this rule, which is why it’s always a good idea to double-check the dress code requirements in the additional details for each shift. We also advised checking the weather, and coming prepared.

If you fail to show up with your volunteer t-shirt and any other dress code requirements, you may be asked to go home.

Does Hot Docs provide accommodations for out of town volunteers?

No, we are not able to house the hundreds of volunteers who help out each yar.

What if I don’t know my work/school schedule right now? Will I still be able to sign up for shifts?

Yes! If you don’t know your schedule until a week or two in advance, we ask that you wait to claim shifts until your schedule is locked. While our system does allow you to drop a shift 48 hours or more in advance of the shift start time, we ask that you only sign up for shifts you can commit to.

Do you provide transit tokens for volunteers?

We only provide transit tokens for “Floater Volunteers,” a team meets at the Volunteer Office and is then assigned based on what locations need assistance. All other volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to and from their shifts.

How do I get access to specialized volunteer roles?

We offer many specialized volunteer roles in the areas of leadership, industry, marketing, special events, and more. These are usually offered to returning volunteers first, before they are open to new volunteers.

Can I watch films while volunteering?

You should never expect to watch films on shift, as you will usually be busy. There are some very rare cases where you may be able to watch a film, but note that you should always check in with your direct supervisor before leaving your post. Feel free to use your vouchers to check out films when you are not volunteering.

I would like to volunteer only at the Hot Docs Ted RogersCinema. How do I apply?

Volunteer opportunities at the Cinema are available to Hot Docs Festival volunteers only. Due to the overwhelming demand for shifts at the Cinema, we keep the team smaller to engage our Festival volunteers year-round. We ask our Cinema volunteers to complete one year with the Festival before committing to year-round opportunities.

FAQs: Industry Registration

I have registered but have not received a confirmation email. Should I be concerned?

Registration and payment are NOT automatic. All registration forms are processed manually on a first-come, first-served basis. You should receive an email within 48 hours of submitting your registration form. If you have registered more than a week ago and have not received your confirmation email, please contact Hot Docs registration.

Will I receive a receipt/invoice for my registration fee?

Yes. Once your registration is complete, you will have the opportunity to download and print a PDF copy of your receipt.

If I’ve submitted a film to the Festival, do I still have to pay for my pass?

Applicants will be notified by email in early March if their work has been selected to screen at the Festival. If your film has been selected, all credited directors and two additional crew members will receive complimentary passes.

I am unable to attend. Can I transfer my pass to a colleague or receive a refund?

If you are unable to participate in Hot Docs, you may transfer your pass to a colleague. Alternately, a full refund will be available until April 1.

All pass transfers and refund requests must be formally submitted by email to [email protected], before April 1.

I usually get a press pass. Do I still need to register online?

Yes. Visit the Media section of this website. You will need to fill out the Media Accreditation Form, available beginning February 8.

I want to upload my film to The Doc Shop. What should I do?

Rough-cut and completed projects with international appeal that would suit theatrical, broadcast, VOD, or educational audiences are welcome. For more information, please check out our submission guidelines.

The fee to submit a film is: * Early Bird Rate (until March 23): $50 + HST * Regular Rate: $75 + HST


To add your film to The Doc Shop, please complete the submission form.

FAQs: Swapcard - Industry Event Platform

How do I access the online event?

After April 15, All-Access Online Pass holders will receive an email with log in details for Swapcard, our online event platform. Click on the button in the email to connect to the online platform.


Free conference attendees will receive their access information on April 28.


Please note that user accounts are limited to a single user and will be locked if shared with multiple users.

I did not receive or lost the email. What should I do?

All-Access Online Pass holders can log in HERE using the email you used to register for Hot Docs. If you are logging in for the first time, you will need to send yourself a magic link to setup your password.


Free conference registrants will receive access on April 28.

What do I do if my magic link expires?

The magic link is an email with a security token personalized for your email address. It expires in one hour or once you use it. If your magic link has expired, you can send yourself a new one from the login page.


If you ar still unable to login, please contact us at [email protected].

How do I see and edit my profile?

Once you are in the home menu, click on My Profile in the menu or “Edit” beside your profile image. You can add or remove your personal details here.

What information in my profile is accessible to other members?

Public profile information that is accessible by all members of the event includes first and last name, company, biography, social networks (if completed), and skills (if completed).


Private information is accessible by those members with whom you are connected, meaning you either sent/received and accepted a meeting request. Information available to connections includes first and last name, company, biography, social networks (if completed), skills (if completed, email, telephone number (if completed) and address (if completed).

I can’t find myself in the attendee list. Why not?

You will not appear to yourself when viewing the attendee list. If you would like to view or edit your profile, click on My Profile in the menu or “Edit” beside your profile image. You can add or remove your personal details here.

What if I don’t want to be visible in the attendee list?

You can make yourself visible or invisible at any time. To manage your visibility, go to Attendees and adjust the Visibility button according to your preference.

Is there a list available of everyone participating at Hot Docs?

Prior to April 15, All-Access Online Pass holders can search for delegates in the Online Community.


After April 15, All-Access Online Pass holders can browse the attendees list and contact fellow delegates in Swapcard, our virtual event platform.


Free conference registrants do not have access to attendees or the Online Community.

I registered for the free conference. How can I get All-Access?

If you would like to upgrade your registration to the All-Access Online Pass, please contact [email protected].

SESSIONS // Can I build my own personal schedule?

Yes, when viewing the schedule (All Sessions & Events), you can add sessions by clicking the calendar icon next to the name of the session/event.

SESSIONS // What time zone is the event in?

The event schedule displays time according to the time zone of your computer/device.

SESSIONS // How can I see which sessions I have selected to attend?

Click on “My Event” in the menu. You can then click “My Schedule” to see all the sessions and events that you have added to your schedule.

SESSIONS // Can I add my chosen sessions and meetings to my personal calendar?

Yes! Please go to “My Event” and you can export it all to your calendar or download them as a PDF by clicking on the appropriate link.

SESSIONS // How can I view sessions or access events?

From either the main schedule (All Sessions & Events) or your personal schedule (My Event), click on the session or event.


If the session/event is available On Demand, you can watch it any time after 12:01 a.m. ET on April 29.


Scheduled Streams and Live Events can be viewed at the scheduled time. After their original air date, the Scheduled Streams will be make available On Demand.


You can filter the All Sessions & Events list by Format (Live Event, On Demand, Scheduled Stream). You can also filter the schedule by type.

SESSIONS // Will I be able to access the sessions after the event is over?

All-Access Online Pass holders can access On Demand content, including The Doc Shop, until May 31, 2021.


All-Access Online Pass holders can also access the Online Community until registration for the 2022 Festival opens.


Free conference registrants have access until May 9, 2021.

SESSIONS // Will conference sessions be closed captioned?

All Hot Docs conference sessions and Micro Meetings will be made accessible to deaf and low hearing delegates with live captioning (CART) or closed captioning.

NETWORKING // What are the different ways to interact with other delegates during the event?

All-Access Online Pass holders can interact with other delegates in a variety of ways: make contacts, send messages, organize video conferences, write in open discussions, communicate with exhibitors via their virtual booths, book meetings with other delegates and attend live social events.


Free conference registrants can also participate in the session discussions, as well as contact exhibitors via their virtual booths.

NETWORKING // How can I connect with other delegates?

You can view the list of all members under Attendees. Simply click on a member you would like to connect with and send them a connection request or simply press the little add icon next to their image.

NETWORKING // How can I make an appointment with exhibitors?

Visit the Marketplace and click on the exhibitor you would like to connect with. You will be able to view their available meeting slots and request a meeting.

NETWORKING // Can I be reminded of my upcoming meetings?

Automatic notifications are sent when you receive a meeting request, but you will also receive a reminder a few minutes before the meeting starts. If you wish to cancel a meeting, you can do so under My Agenda and My Meetings.

DEAL MAKER/DISTRIBUTION RENDEZVOUS // I am participating in Deal Maker or Distribution Rendezvous. Where can I find those meetings?

If you are participating in Hot Docs Deal Maker or Distribution Rendezvous, your meetings will be taking place on the Bsquare meeting platform. You will receive an email with your login credentials after April 19.

THE DOC SHOP // What is The Doc Shop?

The Doc Shop is a secure viewing platform where All-Access Online Pass holders can view films, including selections for the 2021 Hot Docs Festival.

THE DOC SHOP // How do I access The Doc Shop?

All-Access Online Pass holders can access The Doc Shop via the Swapcard main menu. Films will be available from April 29 to May 31, 2021.


Free conference registrants do NOT have access to The Doc Shop.

THE DOC SHOP // What are the technical requirements for accessing the Doc Shop?

The Doc Shop utilizes an HTML5 video player. Here are the recommended system requirements for optimal playback:

  • Chrome 35+ (Windows Vista and higher, Mac OSX 10.9 and higher)
  • Firefox 47+ (Windows Vista and higher, Mac OSX 10.9 and higher)
  • Safari 8+ (Mac OSX 10.9 and higher)
  • iOS 6+
  • Android 4.3+

THE DOC SHOP // Can I vote for the Hot Docs audience awards and Rogers Audience Award?

You cannot vote for the audience awards in The Doc Shop. Only ticket holders are eligible to vote.

ONLINE COMMUNITY // How do I access the Online Community?

When your registration is processed, All-Access Online Pass holders are sent a link to reset your password. Please check your spam folder. If you cannot find the email, let us know at [email protected].


Once you’ve reset your password, you can access the Online Community here: hotdocs.ca/i/hotdocsfest.force.com/industrycommunity/s/login/


After April 15, All-Access Online Pass holders can also access the Online Community from the main menu in Swapcard.

ONLINE COMMUNITY // Where can I access the Guide to Decision Makers?

All-Access Online Pass holders can access the Guide to Decision Makers in the Online Community.

ONLINE COMMUNITY // I represent a decision maker and would like to be included in the Guide to Decision Makers. How can I do that?

If you would like to be included in the Guide to Decision Makers, please contact industry programmer Madelaine Russo at [email protected].

TECHNICAL ISSUES // Do I need a particular device or bandwidth to attend the event?

You will need an internet connection and a web browser (recommended: Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari). We recommend high-speed internet for a better visual experience.

TECHNICAL ISSUES // Can I access the event on my phone or tablet?

Yes. You will need to download the Swapcard app on the App Store or Google Play.

TECHNICAL ISSUES // What if I’m having streaming or playback issues on Swapcard?

Please note that Swapcard works best with Chrome or Firefox. If you are experiencing blank pages, streaming issues or app latency, please switch to one of these two browsers if you have been working on another browser. Internet Explorer does not support Swapcard.

Should the video player remain unavailable following a page refresh; it is most likely a security setting on your browser, device, or network blocking access to the content server. We would recommend trying the following.

  1. Try accessing the site from another browser (this gets around any browser settings that could be blocking access) If you are on a PC you should have access to Edge and if on a Mac it will be Safari
  2. Open an Incognito Window and try to access the content through this (this gets around any cached or bad data that could be held in the browser)
  3. Try on a different device (Mobile perhaps, if you are viewing on desktop)
  4. Use a different internet connection, a mobile phone with wifi off so it uses mobile data is a good option (this is a way to bypass corporate network restrictions or VPNs that may be presenting an issue).


Please note that videos are not hosted on Swapcard and that the platform only acts as a “gateway” to the event’s video content.

TECHNICAL ISSUES // I am trying to start a meeting but I get a blank/black screen with no Audio or Video. How do I fix this?

This problem usually occurs if there is a firewall that is blocking the streaming connection. Run the Pre-call test in order to determine if the system network is ready for a call.

TECHNICAL ISSUES // What are the technical requirements for The Doc Shop?

You can watch content on PCs running Windows 7+, and Intel-based Macs running OSX 10.12+. You can also watch films on Android tablets and phones using Chrome, and on iPhones and iPads using Safari.


Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10
Supported browsers: Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera. We recommend using the latest version of your browser. Internet Explorer is not supported.


Mac OSX 10.12 or later
Supported browsers: Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Opera. We recommend using the latest version of your browser.


Still having problems? Please refer to the full technical requirements.

FAQs: Festival Film Submissions

I received an error message when I tried to pay the submission fee!

Please call your bank. We have found that some banks block the transaction. Tell them that you do indeed wish to make the payment. If you are still having problems email us at [email protected].

Can I re-submit my film from last year?

Hot Docs does not accept re-submissions. If you feel your film has changed significantly in structure or approach from the previous submission, please send a list of the changes that have been made to [email protected].

If my film is selected to screen at another Canadian film festival, is it still eligible for submission to Hot Docs?

SHORT FILMS: Yes, as long as it is not a festival in Toronto. A Toronto premiere is the minimum requirement for all short film submissions, meaning your film must not have screened publicly or been broadcast before a Toronto audience prior to the Festival.


FEATURE & MID-LENGTH FILMS: Yes, as long as it is not a festival based in Ontario, or an Online festival that was accessible to audiences in Ontario. An Ontario premiere is the minimum requirement for all mid-length and feature submissions, meaning your film must not have screened publicly or been broadcast before an Ontario audience prior to the Festival.


That said, premiere status is something the programming team takes into consideration when making final decisions.

Do you accept series?

In recent years, Hot Docs has begun to show limited series at the festival. If you have a series you would like to submit, please email [email protected] with a brief description of the series, including number of episodes and runtime. We will advise on if it could be a fit for the festival and if so, how to submit.

Can I submit a VR project?

Please do not use the submission form to submit a VR project. To learn more about DocX, our program for VR projects, please email [email protected] and include a description of your project.

How many films can I submit?

You can submit as many films as you like. However, each submitted film must have its own screener, completed submission form, fee, supplemental materials and meet the eligibility requirements. DO NOT put multiple projects on the same screener.

Do you accept rough cuts?

We strongly encourage filmmakers to submit finished versions of their films whenever possible. Please note that the Festival will only accept one cut per film for programming consideration, and the programming decision will be based on the cut you submit. If needed, Hot Docs will request an updated version and will contact those applicants directly. You may indicate the status of your cut and what changes have yet to be made in the online submission form. Before submitting a rough cut, please keep in mind that we will not consider new versions of the same film for future Festivals.

Do you require a press kit or other materials?

Please do not send trailers, press kits or any other materials.


If your film is selected, you will be asked to provide a press kit and publicity materials at that time.

Can I send you a new version of my film?

We will not accept updated versions during the programming process.

Can I submit through Withoutabox?

No. Films must be submitted through our online submission form.

How do you decide if a film is Canadian or international?

Canadian Submissions: All films produced in Canada and/or directed by Canadian filmmakers. The director must currently reside in Canada with permanent resident status or be able to provide proof of Canadian citizenship. If the film is co-directed, at least one of the directors must meet this criteria.


International Submissions: All films produced outside of Canada and directed by non-Canadians.


Hot Docs reserves the right to determine which submission category the film will reside in if selected.

How do you determine country of production?

Country of production is generally determined by financing and birth place/permanent residence of the filmmaker(s). In distinguishing between Canadian and international entries, our general rule is that any film with 51 per cent or more Canadian financing is considered a Canadian film. The location of your documentary does not necessarily relate to the country of production, unless significant financing originated in that country or it is the filmmaker’s place of birth/permanent residence. Significant staffing and crew who reside in the location where the film was shot can also be taken into consideration.

When will I find out if my film has been selected?

We will contact you via email by end of March 2022. Please note that the primary contact listed on your entry form will be the only person contacted and Hot Docs will not disclose a film’s status over the phone.

Why do my Vimeo statistics show that no one has watched my film?

Hot Docs watches all film submissions. However, there have been instances in which our views are not recorded on Vimeo’s statistics. Films viewed via a third-party player or application do not always register views in the same way that films viewed via the direct web link are.

If my film is not selected, may I speak with a programmer for notes or comments?

Due to the overwhelming amount of submissions, we cannot provide notes or comments on films not selected for the Festival.

What film format is used for the Festival?

If your film is selected for the festival, we will require a DCP of the film. More information will be provided upon acceptance.

Does my film need to be closed captioned?

English language feature-length and mid-length films that are accepted to the festival are required to provide a closed-captioned track for their film. More information will be provided upon acceptance.

FAQs: Hot Docs Forum Submissions

What is the Hot Docs Forum?

The Hot Docs Forum is a renowned international financing event aimed at securing co-productions and funds for feature length documentaries. The Forum is the flagship industry event of the Hot Docs Festival, North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market, and could be the launching pad for your next documentary.

What is the different between the Forum and Hot Docs Deal Maker?

The Hot Docs Forum is a dynamic pitching event that stimulates international co-production financing. Taking place over two days, pre-selected international projects are presented to a round table of leading commissioning editors, film fund representatives, financiers, programming executives and delegates from around the globe.

Hot Docs Deal Maker is a one-on-one pitch-meeting program for film teams seeking financing from the international marketplace. Deal Maker participants meet with commissioning editors, film funds, foundations, and other Decision Makers over three sessions. The Forum is held over two mornings (the first two mornings of Deal Maker) and Deal Maker meetings are held in the afternoon and the following day.

All selected Forum projects are automatically enrolled in Deal Maker, meaning that all 19 selected Forum Pitch Teams have guaranteed pre-scheduled meetings with attending decision makers.

Please note that Hot Docs Deal Maker has different deadlines than the Forum. Find out more about Deal Maker.

If our submission is accepted, what is the cost of participating?

The cost of registration for accepted pitch teams is $395.50 ($350 + 13% HST) CAD per pitch team member. Included in this fee, you will receive all the benefits of Hot Docs industry registration.


Additionally, prior to your pitch, you will receive consultations to structure your pitch and target decision makers, and the opportunity to participate in private pitch training sessions with our experts. During Hot Docs, you will participate in the Forum and Hot Docs Deal Maker. You’ll also receive a submission waiver to submit your doc to Hot Docs once it is complete.

Are there travel or other bursaries to assist producers with the costs of attending and participating in the Hot Docs Forum?

The Hot Docs Forum does not have funds to support your travel but we are happy to write letters of support and/or provide information on your behalf about the benefits of exposure to the world market in your effort to secure outside changes. Please contact industry programmer and Hot Docs Forum producer Dorota Lech to discuss how we may be able to help.

In many cases, your local film institute, film board or producers’ association has a program to provide monetary assistance for attending a recognized market like the Hot Docs Forum. As well, since your trigger financier benefits from having the project presented at the Forum, you should consider talking to them about subsidizing the travel costs and fees or accepting it as a line-item in your budget.

The Regular Pitch Category requires a Trigger Financier. What is a Trigger Financier? What is third party financing from the marketplace?

“Third party” means a party unrelated to the production team while “the marketplace” refers to the financiers and buyers of documentaries. The documentary marketplace generally includes theatrical and broadcast, the educational/non-theatrical audiences, film funds and commissions, and online broadcast. Production financing from this marketplace generally takes the form of television or Internet cash licenses, pre-sales and distribution advances, which are fees paid in return for exhibition use of the documentary.

Hot Docs also accept grants from foundations, arts councils and other public agencies such as film funds or commissions as well as other types of funds and arts grants on a case-by-case basis. Historically, the Forum has made exceptions for organizations based on their policies of financing international projects for the marketplace.

Trigger financing is not exclusive to production funding can also include development funding.

Projects in the regular Hot Docs Forum pitch program must have a “Trigger Financier” attached. The trigger financier or market partner is a third party financier from the marketplace who has committed funds to your project. The Trigger Financier can be a broadcaster, distributor, foundation, fund, charity or other legitimate documentary market partner who illustrates a confirmed interest in the project and has contributed financially to the budget. Generally this financier is the main funder or investor in place on the project at the time of application. If the project is selected and the funder is a broadcaster or working for a film fund, they will be asked to attend the Forum and publicly support the project.

We accept successful crowdfunding campaigns as third-party triggers. Successful crowdfunding campaigns should be a part of your financing package. Any additional information will be to the discretion of the selection committee.

Hot Docs also accepts financing received through crowdfunding and crowdsourcing as a third party market partner. If you have any questions please email Forum producer, Dorota Lech.

Does my project require a broadcast partner to apply for the Regular Pitch Category?

No. Please see above for an explanation of what qualifies as a “Trigger Financier.”

If my project is selected, does my trigger financier need to participate in the Hot Docs Forum?

Please note that a Pitch Team consists of at minimum two Pitch Team Members (most often a director and a producer) and a maximum of three Pitch Team Members (sometimes co-directors and a producer or a director and two producers). The Pitch Team does not include the trigger financier.

If the trigger financier is a public broadcaster or a public film fund, they are expected to participate in the Forum to co-present the film. The trigger financier will receive a compensated pass from Hot Docs. This scenario will be discussed and decided once a project makes it past the selection point. If you have any questions, please contact Forum Producer Dorota Lech, [email protected].

Per the requirements of the Regular Pitch category, does the 10% confirmed financing have to come entirely from my third party trigger financier?

No. Your total confirmed financing can be a combination of various funds from your Third Party Financier as well as other investments including, but not exclusive to tax credits, funds and grants, pre-sales, and your own companies’ investment.

Pleast note, there is no minimum amount required from your Third Party Financier.

What is OUTREACH AND ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY?

The Outreach and Engagement Strategy outlines who your audience is and how you intend to market to them. This includes your own outreach and that of any distribution or broadcast partners you may have already secured or approached. We want to know how you position your film within the broader market and how will you will work to build a community around your project.

What is DESCRIPTION OF DIGITAL MEDIA COMPONENT?

The digital media component is any interactive elements you might have for your project. For example, a website, interactive documentary, version for a mobile device, etc. This part of the application is not mandatory, but if, for example, you already have a website in place or are in the process of developing additional materials, you can submit the URL or upload screen grabs.

What is COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION?

Country of Production is defined as the country from which financing for the production originated and/or the birth place/permanent residence of the filmmaker(s.) It does not refer to filming locations. If the film is an official co-production between multiple countries, please be sure to list all partner countries.

Does my project need a Canadian component or Canadian funding?

No. The Hot Docs Forum is an international event and you do not require any Canadian link within your film or funding structure.

Does the Hot Docs Forum recognize Canadian federal or provincial tax credits as arm’s length, third-party financing to form part of the minimum 10% requirement?

Yes, because it is automatic financing, i.e. a third party automatically issues the credits based on the expenditure of the production budget. Please note that it must be accompanied by eligible trigger marketplace financing.

I don’t have a broadcaster locked in quite yet, but foresee this happening by, or very shortly after, the deadline—can I still submit my project?

Yes, however, this requires the approval of the Hot Docs Forum producer. Additionally, the online Hot Docs Forum entry form must be completed and submitted, along with the supporting documents, BY THE DEADLINE in order to act as a marker for the project. Following, we need as much information as possible on the state of your negotiations with the broadcaster in the status report, and to be regularly kept up to date.

Please note that we require partner confirmation before the proposals are sent to the Selection Committee for evaluation. If we have not received written confirmation from your broadcaster and/or other trigger third-party, market financial partner within a few days after the deadline, your project may be withdrawn. Please contact industry programmmer and Hot Docs Forum producer Dorota Lech to confirm your timeline.

If accepted, can I amend the information I submitted, including synopsis, treatment, scene select and/or trailer?

Selected projects will have the opportunity to review the written materials, including synopsis and treatment as well as any update info about budget and pitch team members, before they are printed in the Hot Docs Forum catalogue.

Scene selects and/or trailers can be amended until a week prior to the Hot Docs Forum. The final clip(s) should be around two to three minutes and require the approval of the Hot Docs Forum producer.

What prizes are offered by the Hot Docs Forum?

1. Hot Docs first look Pitch Prizes
Hot Docs first look is a curated access program for philanthropic supporters of and investors in documentary film that grants behind-the-scenes access to the world of documentary. Hot Docs first look participants award the first look prize to up to three of the best pitches.In it’s inaugural year, during the 2017 Festival, first look participants awarded $100,000 to two projects. The generous prize has continues without interruption, including two years of online pitching.

2. Hot Docs Canadian Forum Pitch Prize
Hot Docs and the Director’s Guild of Canada (DGC) partnered to create the DGC Canadian Pitch Prize, which aims to increase the quantity and quality of social, cultural, and political one-off documentaries produced in Canada by Canadian-based production companies. In nurturing Canadian talent and giving voice to a diversity of viewpoints, the fund helps Canadian documentaries reach new audiences. The DGC Canadian Pitch Prize is a $10,000 cash prize that is awarded to the best Canadian pitch at the Hot Docs Forum. The money is intended to go towards the production and completion of the winning project, which is selected by a jury of international buyers.

3. The Cuban Hat Award
Providing “real cash, no strings attached” support for powerful and unique films, the winner of the Cuban Hat Award receives money raised during the Hot Docs Forum. The winner is determined by observer ballot and the amount depends on what is collected in the room. Hot Docs matches the funds from the hat.

For more information on our prizes, please see: www.hotdocs.ca/i/forum-pitch-prizes

FAQs: The Doc Shop

What is The Doc Shop?

The Doc Shop is a secure, password-protected market platform created to facilitate sales, acquisitions, and festival solicitations. The Doc Shop is accessible to Hot Docs industry delegates, including broadcasters, distributors, sales agents, and festival programmers.

What are the benefits of adding my film to the Doc Shop?

The Doc Shop allows you to make your film discoverable to the Hot Docs Industry community, including hundreds of potential buyers and festival programmers. The Doc Shop enables delegates to browse, search, and view films, providing valuable exposure to titles seeking sales and programming opportunities.


The Doc Shop allows you to share your contact information with buyers, and allows you to access detailed viewing reports, including information on which delegates have screened your film.

What kinds of films are eligible for the Doc Shop?

The Doc Shop accepts submissions of creative documentaries of all lengths and subject matters. Projects with international appeal that would suit theatrical, broadcast, VOD or educational audiences are welcome.


For further details, please see the Doc Shop Guidelines, or contact [email protected].

Who will be able to access the Doc Shop?

The Doc Shop is accessible to accredited industry professionals worldwide, including broadcasters, distributors, sales agents, and festival programmers. The Doc Shop is not accessible to the general public.

Will 2021 Hot Docs Festival selections be available on the Doc Shop?

Yes, Hot Docs industry delegates will be able to access a number of 2021 Hot Docs Festival selections via the Doc Shop.

How can I add my film to the Doc Shop?

Doc Shop submissions are available to Hot Docs All-Access Online Pass holders.


After registering for an All-Access Online Pass, you will receive an email containing a link to the Doc Shop submission and payment form.


If you have registered for an All-Access Pass and are unable to locate the Doc Shop submission link, please contact [email protected].

How much does it cost to add my film to the Doc Shop?

The early bird entry fee is $50 + 13% HST, and is valid until March 23. After March 23, Doc Shop entries are subject to a regular fee of $75 + 13% HST.


Discounted rates are available for bulk submissions. If you are interested in submitting 5 films or more, please contact [email protected].

Can I add more than one film to the Doc Shop?

Multiple submissions are permitted, and discounts are available for bulk (5+) submissions. If you are interested in submitting 5 films or more, please contact [email protected].

When will my film be available for viewing by delegates, and how long will it be online?

By default, your film will be available from April 29, 2021, until April 1 of 2022. If you wish to deactivate your screener at any point during that period, you may do so by contacting [email protected].

Is Doc Shop content geoblocked?

To facilitate access for Industry delegates located outside of Canada, Doc Shop content will not be geo-blocked.

If I add my film to the Doc Shop, can I remove it at any time?

Yes, if at any time you decide that you no longer want your film to be included in the Doc Shop, please contact [email protected].

I have a film on the Doc Shop. How can I access viewing reports?

You may request viewing reports at any time by contacting [email protected].

I have a film on the Doc Shop. How can I promote it to Hot Docs Industry delegates?

The Hot Docs Guide to Decision Makers is available via the Hot Docs Online Community. We encourage Doc Shop rightsholders to research attending buyers and their programming mandates, and to contact those who might be interested in your film via their Online Community profiles.

Will being featured on the Doc Shop impact my film’s festival premiere status?

No. Because the Doc Shop is a private, industry-facing platform, participation will not impact your film’s festival premiere status.

Does placing my film on the Doc Shop grant Hot Docs any distribution rights in the film?

No. Placing your film on the Doc Shop does not grant Hot Docs any distribution rights. Your film will be featured on the Doc Shop for the specified availability period only, or until you choose to remove it.

Is Digital Rights Management (DRM) employed by Hot Docs to ensure someone cannot copy my film?

Yes. The Doc Shop uses DRM (Digital Rights Management) to protect your film by encrypting the media data. When your video is loaded into The Doc Shop player, the player communicates with a licensing service to obtain permission to play the video. This secured request is invisible to viewers. DRM prevents viewers from downloading your film without permission.

What are the technical requirements for accessing the Doc Shop?

The Doc Shop utilizes an HTML5 video player. Here are the recommended system requirements for optimal playback:

  • Chrome 35+ (Windows Vista and higher, Mac OSX 10.9 and higher)
  • Firefox 47+ (Windows Vista and higher, Mac OSX 10.9 and higher)
  • Safari 8+ (Mac OSX 10.9 and higher)
  • iOS 6+
  • Android 4.3+

FAQs: CrossCurrents International Doc Fund

My production is stalled because of COVID-19 disruptions. How do you take this into consideration in the application?

We understand that many productions have been delayed or stalled due to COVID-19. As long as the production is eligible for the CrossCurrents International Doc Fund, we will consider all applications equally knowing that production timelines may shift. If you have any questions about this, please reach out directly at [email protected].

If I am a recipient of the fund, does that mean I lose any film rights?

Hot Docs has no creative control and ownership of the film from the rightsholder. Successful applicants will be asked to provide proof of chain of title, and incorporation documents of the company that holds the majority rights to the film. The primary rights holder attached to the film project must be one of the (co)directors.

How does the CrossCurrents Doc Fund define an underrepresented community?

We want you to tell us. It is important for us to understand from your perspective how the community you are directly telling the story from has been historically underrepresented.

What is considered as a professional credit?

Professional credits include any commercial (distributed theatrically, on broadcast, DVD or via viable/curated digital platforms like iTunes, Netflix, Hulu) or festival-run short, feature-length or series project (fiction or documentary) where you held the role as director.

What information should I include in my budget?

You can check out our Budgeting for Emerging Filmmakers publication to see standard line items in a budget. We expect a detailed industry standard development or production budget for the project, including the top sheet.

I am in development and have not yet shot any footage that can be cut into a trailer. What kind of supporting footage should I submit?

If you have not entered production yet, we recommend cutting together a short audio-visual piece that conveys the tone, message, or style of your project.

Can I apply for post-production funds?

At the discretion of the selection committee, projects applying to the production fund category may be awarded a post-production grant in lieu of a production grant. Post-production grants may be awarded to projects at the end of their production or post-production process. Post-production grants are cash grants only, and do not qualify for the CrossCurrents fellowship program.

When will I know if my application is successful?

All applicants will be notified of the selection committee’s decision by our staff via email approximately four months after the application deadline, including those invited to the fellowship. A public announcement of all successful projects will be made shortly thereafter.

FAQs: CrossCurrents Canada Doc Fund

My production is stalled because of COVID-19 disruptions. How do you take this into consideration in the application?

We understand that many productions have been delayed or stalled due to COVID-19. As long as the production is eligible for the CrossCurrents Canada Doc Fund, we will consider all applications equally knowing that production timelines may shift. If you have any questions about this, please reach out directly at [email protected].

If I am a recipient of the fund, does that mean I lose any film rights?

Hot Docs has no creative control and ownership of the film from the Canadian rightsholder. Successful applicants will be asked to provide proof of chain of title, and incorporation documents of the Canadian company that holds the majority rights to the film.

How does the CrossCurrents Doc Fund articulate Indigenous, Francophone, Deaf, disability, racialized and/or persons of colour?

In the spirit of inclusivity, Hot Docs does not define these terms but rather looks to applicants to self-identify why they are a good fit for the fund. The CrossCurrents Canada Doc Fund, under the aegis of the Canadian Storytellers Project, has strategic measures for filmmakers from these specific designated groups that have been underserved or experience barriers within the Canadian arts sector. Hot Docs and the Canadian Storytellers Project acknowledges that there are other population groups in Canada that face barriers. However, we believe that the priority groups identified above are the appropriate ones to focus on at this time.

What is Netflix’s involvement in the project? Are there any additional requirements associated with Netflix?

Netflix is invited to evaluate the project briefs and participate in the selection committee meetings. However, there are no contractual obligations or relationships between Netflix and recipients of the CrossCurrents Canada Doc Fund.

What is considered as a professional credit?

Professional credits include any commercial (distributed theatrically, on broadcast, DVD or via viable/curated digital platforms like iTunes, Netflix, Hulu) or festival-run short, feature-length or series project (fiction or documentary) where you held the role as director.

What information should I include in my budget?

You can check out our Budgeting for Emerging Filmmakers publication to see standard line items in a budget. We expect a detailed industry standard development or production budget for the project, including the top sheet.

I am in development and have not yet shot any footage that can be cut into a trailer. What kind of supporting footage should I be submitting?

If you have not entered production yet, we recommend cutting together a short audio-visual piece that conveys the tone, message, or style of your project.

Can I apply for post-production funds?

At the discretion of the selection committee, projects applying to the production fund category may be awarded a post-production grant in lieu of a production grant. Post-production grants may be awarded to projects at the end of their production or post-production process. Post-production grants are cash grants only, and do not qualify for the Doc Accelerator fellowship programs.

When will I know if my application is successful?

All applicants will be notified of the selection committee’s decision by our staff via email approximately four months after the application deadline. The length of the evaluation period will be determined by the volume of submissions received. A public announcement of all successful projects will be made shortly thereafter.

All >

Presenting Platinum Partner

  • logo Scotia Wealth Management

Founding Partner

  • logo Rogers

Signature Partner

  • Logo Cbc Gem

Presenting Partners

  • logo Crave
  • logo Netflix

Major Supporters

  • logo Celebrate Ontario
  • logo telefilm