conf4 2015 by Adriano Trapani

Industry Sessions

The 2020 keynote and panel offered tools for working within the rapidly changing documentary landscape.

Keynote: Why Art Matters in a Time of Crisis

Director Sam Soko has spent his career reflecting on the role of the artist during moments of social upheaval. In Softie, Hot Docs’ 2020 opening night selection, he followed a photographer-turned-activist as his country, Kenya, faced a political plight. Now, as we grapple with an unprecedented global emergency, he argues that art will matter more than ever. Sponsored by A&E.

Sam Soko, Director, LBx Africa
Sam Soko is an award-winning director, producer and editor based in Nairobi, Kenya. With his captivating approach to socio-political storytelling, he has developed content and collaborated with firebrand artists from around the world. His first feature documentary project Softie, premiered at the 2020 Sundance film festival, winning a special jury prize for editing. His work also includes additional editing in the feature documentary I Am Samuel directed by Pete Murimi.

Panel: Surviving and Thriving in the Age of COVID

Filmmakers around the world are united in one concern: the impact of COVID-19 on their livelihoods. They are seeking out opportunities to carry them forward and into this new paradigm. Hot Docs and the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers are bringing together our diverse documentary community to share experiences and learn from each other about strategies for survival and inspiration to thrive.


Julie Goldman, Producer, Motto Pictures (USA)
Julie Goldman is an Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning producer and executive producer of documentary features and series, including The Mole Agent, One Child Nation, Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn, Ringside, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Life, Animated, Weiner, Humans of New York, Murder in the Bayou, God Loves Uganda, Buck, Art and Craft, Solitary, and Best of Enemies. Julie received the Amazon Studios Sundance Institute Producer’s Award and the Cinereach Producer’s Award.


Rebecca Barry, Co-Founder, Media Stockade (Australia)
Rebecca Barry is a director and producer. In 2012 she founded the production company Media Stockade with fellow producer Madeleine Hetherton. The company has a reputation for creating extraordinary films and using storytelling as a device to shift perspectives and instigate change. Recent productions include The Opposition (Hot Docs, IDFA and Sydney Film Festival); feature documentary film I Am a Girl (NatGeo & ABC), The Surgery Ship (SBS), which evolved into an eight-part series with Nat Geo; China Love (ABC, DOCNYC); and Frozen Lies (Foxtel). She is currently producing an eight-part documentary series called Back to Nature for the ABC.

Ric Esther Bienstock, Filmmaker, Good Soup Productions (Canada)
Ric Esther Bienstock is an Emmy Award–winning filmmaker best known for her groundbreaking investigative documentaries including The Accountant of Auschwitz, Tales From the Organ Trade, Sex Slaves, Ebola: Inside an Outbreak (aka Plague Fighters), Boxing: In and Out of the Ring, Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour, and Ms. Conceptions. In 2019, she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honour. Her work has garnered dozens of prestigious awards, including an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism and the Gordon Sinclair Award for Broadcast Journalism from the Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television for her body of work. Bienstock is currently producing a six-part documentary series featuring and executive produced by Samuel L. Jackson. She speaks three languages, none of which her children listen to.

Alex Hryniewicz, Head of Owned Channels, Little Dot Studios (UK)
Alex is Head of Owned Channels at Little Dot Studios, a next generation broadcaster and producer. At Little Dot, Alex oversees the strategic development of their Owned and Operated factual channels as they grow their global reach and expand onto new platforms, syndicate content to third party VoD services and extend their commissioning, production and brand partnership opportunities. In 2019 he executive produced the BAFTA Award–winning Missed Call for Real Stories.

Michèle Stephenson, Filmmaker, Rada Studio (USA/Canada)
Michèle Stephenson, co-founder of Rada Studio, pulls from her Panamanian and Haitian roots and experience as a human rights attorney to tell provocative stories that speak to personal and systemic liberation. Her films have been nominated for three Emmys. Her collaborative series with The New York Times Op-Docs, A Conversation on Race, won the 2016 Online Journalism Award for Commentary. She was recently awarded the Creative Capital Fellowship and the Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her current projects include two nonfiction features, a series, and a virtual reality time travel collaboration.

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