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Hot Docs-Blue Ice Docs Fund Guidelines

The Fund provides development grants of up to $10,000 CAD and production grants of up to $40,000 CAD to four to ten projects annually. Up to five funded projects will be invited to participate in a year-long mentorship program.

The mission and outcomes of the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Docs Fund are reviewed annually and these guidelines are subject to change.

Applications Open: October 1, 2020
Applications Close: November 30, 2020

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Questions? Contact [email protected].

The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Docs Fund (HDBIG) offers grants in Development and Production for feature or broadcast-length documentaries. Approximately four to 10 projects are awarded each year. All successful applications will be considered for the mentorship program. Select applicants will be invited to apply for short documentaries to The New York Times—Op-Docs under the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Docs Fund banner.

Development Grant
The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Docs Fund provides successful applicants with a development grant of up to $10,000 CDN which can reflect up to 100% of the development budget. Grant money must be spent in the region on development activities and pre-production.

Production Grant
Hot Docs-Blue Ice Docs Fund provides successful applicants with a production grant of up to $40,000 CDN to maximum of 50% of the production budget. At the discretion of the selection committee, projects applying for the production grant may be awarded a completion grant instead. Completion grant recipients are not eligible for the mentorship program for that particular application round.

Short Documentary Grant
All eligible projects submitted to HDBIG will also be considered for The New York Times—Op-Docs short documentary, unless the applicant indicates otherwise. Op-Docs is a forum for short, opinionated documentaries, produced by independent filmmakers with wide creative latitude, covering current affairs, contemporary life and historical subjects. This does not affect your current or future application to HDBIG. It is possible to receive support from both Op-Docs and Hot Docs-Blue Ice Docs Fund or none. Learn more about Op-Docs.


The applicant must:

  • Be the producer and primary rights holder of the project

In all cases both the director and producer must:

  • Hold citizenship, or have legal permanent residency, and primarily live and work in Africa. A complete list of funded countries can be found in our FAQ section
  • Have at least one previous professional credit to their name
  • Be in good standing with Hot Docs by application date

The project must:

  • Be produced and shot in Africa
  • Be either a high-quality feature or broadcast-hour length documentary to audiences both locally and internationally (school-work, series, and fiction pieces are not eligible)
  • Have a registered production company that is associated with the project in a country on the African continent listed in our FAQ section
  • Not be completed by Hot Docs 2020 (April 2020)

Eligibility for re-application:

  • A project can submit to the Development Fund and, then submit to the Production Fund at a later deadline, whether or not the Development Fund application was successful.
  • Submitted projects that do not receive funding may submit a maximum of one additional time only in another stream within the fund. Requests for resubmission must be received in writing to [email protected]. In some instances, the selection committee may invite a project to resubmit and they will be notified directly.

Please note:

  • Applicants who have misrepresented their primary residency on the application and/or in written or verbal correspondence with Hot Docs will not be considered for the grant selection and may have their grants revoked.


Grantees will have a number of non-financial means of support from Hot Docs. These resources are intended to support the film at all stages of production, enhance professional development and increase access to the international documentary marketplace and community.

Mentorship Program
Up to five funded projects will be invited to participate in a year-long mentorship program guided by international mentors. One director from these selected projects are offered a fellowship to a private filmmakers lab at Hot Docs and at the Durban FilmMart/Durban International Film Festival. The fellowship includes roundtrip travel, accommodation, and accreditation support for these international markets and festivals. Learn more about the mentorship experiences from past fellows Soko Sam and Milisuthando “Mili” Bongela.


The online application must be submitted in English on or before the deadline. There is no application fee. All materials received by Hot Docs are confidential.

Read the eligibility rules, guidelines and FAQ section before proceeding to the online application form. Do not send anything by post or email to the Hot Docs office.

Supporting Footage
A maximum of 10 minutes of footage may be submitted using up to two separate links. Teasers, trailers, and sample footage must be hosted on an independent website such as Vimeo and submitted via a link. Password protected links are accepted, but must remain live until January 2020.

If the footage is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by English subtitles.

Required Supporting Documents
To complete your application, you must prepare and upload all required documents via the online application. Hot Docs reserves the right to request additional information.

INSTRUCTIONS: Please append all supporting document(s) as a single pdf file with the filename as instructed below. Please use a consistent project file name in all files where it reads “ProjectFile.”

Documentation must be submitted in English or with accompanying English translation.

Supporting Documentation


Proof of ownership for content for the project. This may include option agreements, writer’s agreement, subject releases, etc.
Name this file before uploading: HDBIG19-ProjectTitle-Appendix1


Government issued incorporation documents: Proof of incorporation in country of production company that holds the rights to the project.
Name this file before uploading: HDBIG19-ProjectTitle-Appendix2


Complete detailed development or production budget for the project, and also include the top sheet (summary).
Name this file before uploading: HDBIG19-ProjectTitle-Appendix3


Copies of signed financial commitments from all sources of confirmed funding to date.
Name this file before uploading: HDBIG19-ProjectTitle-Appendix4


Copy of agreements between the co-producing companies (if applicable).
Name this file before uploading: HDBIG19-ProjectTitle-Appendix5


Applicants will be informed of the Selection Committee’s decision approximately four months after the submission deadline.

Applications deemed complete and eligible will be submitted to the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Docs Fund Advisory, made up of documentary industry professionals who live and work in Africa, and selections will be made thereafter in conjunction with representatives from Hot Docs and Blue Ice Docs.

Decision Criteria
Applications for will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Strength, style and originality of the subject matter and the treatment
  • Experience, vision and ability of the creative team
  • Feasibility of the project with respect to its budget, financing, schedule and scope

Projects in consideration of an application for The New York Times—Op-Docs, in collaboration with Hot Docs-Blue Ice Docs Fund will be based on the criteria listed above, as well as the project’s potential for success on the Op-Docs platform.

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