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Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Fund Guidelines

Providing development grants of up to 10,000 CAD and production grants of up to $40,000 CAD to four to 10 projects annually. Plus, five projects will be invited to participate in a year-long mentorship program.

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

Applications open: June 5, 2019
Applications close: August 14, 2019

The below 2018 guidelines are for reference only.

Questions? Contact [email protected].

The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund (HDBI) offers grants in two separate categories Development and Production. Approximately four to 10 projects are awarded each year. All successful applications will be considered for the up to five mentorship program slots, and select applicants will be invited to apply to The New York Times—Op-Docs under the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documenatry Fund banner.

Development Category
The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund will provide successful applicants with a development grant of up to $10,000 CDN which could reflect up to 100 per cent of the development budget. Grant money must be spent in the region on development activities and pre-production. Eligible costs include research, development of a script and story proposal and production of a teaser or trailer. Other eligible costs may include production of pitch and marketing materials, community engagement strategy research, as well as distribution strategy research.

Production Category
The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund will provide successful applicants with a production grant of up to $40,000 CDN to maximum of 50 per cent of the production budget. Eligible costs include those that are standard in the industry during production and post-production.

At the discretion of the selection committee, projects applying to the production fund category may be awarded a completion grant in lieu of a production grant. Completion grants may be awarded to projects at the end of their production or post-production process. Completion grants are cash grants only, and do not include the accompanying mentorship programs or travel support to Hot Docs or Durban International Film Festival.

Mentorship Program
Up to five funded projects will be invited to participate in a year-long mentorship program with international mentors who will help guide the project. These participants will also receive additional funding. One director from each selected projects will participate in a private filmmakers lab at Hot Docs and at the Durban FimMart/Durban International Film Festival as fellows. The fellows will receive travel, accommodation and accreditation support for these international markets and festivals, and the opportunity to develop their projects on a year-long basis. All applicants will have the opportunity to further indicate their interest in the year-long mentorship program, and all successful funded projects are automatically considered. Learn more about our mentorships from past participants Soko Sam and Milisuthando “Mili” Bongela.

The New York Times—Op-Docs
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. All eligible projects submitted to the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Fund will also be considered for an Op-Docs short documentary, unless the applicant indicates otherwise. If accepted, the projects will receive a related grant from the Fund. You may receive an invitation to apply with further instructions. Please note this does not affect your current or future application to the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Fund. Being accepted to one initiative does not guarantee or affect a successful application to the other. It is possible to receive support from both or none. Learn more about Op-Docs.


The applicant must:

  • Be the primary rights holder of the project
  • Be the director or producer attached with the film 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 feature or broadcast length documentary (shorts, series and fiction pieces are not eligible)
  • Be of high quality and suitable for theatrical release and/or television broadcast to audiences both locally and internationally
  • Have a registered production company that is associated with the project in a country on the African continent listed in our FAQ section

Please note:

  • A producer/filmmaker can apply with one project, per fund, per deadline
  • If the application is unsuccessful, a project cannot be resubmitted to the same fund at a later deadline unless invited to do so by our selection committee
  • A project can be submitted to the Development Fund and, at a later deadline, submitted to the Production Fund, whether or not its Development Fund application was successful
  • The director(s) of the project must not have outstanding deliverables to the Fund for a previously supported project
  • 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
  • The selection committee may invite a project to be resubmitted for a later deadline. This decision is made solely by the selection committee. These candidates will be notified directly
  • We will not accept projects that will be finished by Hot Docs 2018


Grantees in both categories will have a number of non-financial means of support from Hot Docs and in conjunction with Hot Docs’ partners. These resources are intended to support film production, enhance professional development for grantees and increase access to the international documentary marketplace and community. It is at the discretion of the Hot Docs selection committee to invite up to five director fellows from each year to participate.

Support may include and is not limited to the following activities:

HDBIG mentorship program

  • Grantees will have access to peer-to-peer mentorship with international or regional partners

Support and resources from Hot Docs Industry Programs team

  • Regular Skype meetings for project feedback at all stages
  • Year-round mentorship from international mentors
  • Travel, accommodation and accreditation for the eligible director to attend Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Film Filmmakers Lab
  • Travel, accommodation and accreditation for the eligible director to attend the Durban International Film Festival

For grantees that have completed their film these additional support elements are possible:

  • Opportunity for an invitation to screen in a special program at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and/ or at the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema
  • Inclusion in Hot Docs Doc Shop under a specific Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group channel


Applicants will be informed of the Selection Committee’s decision approximately four months after the submission deadline. The length of the evaluation period will be determined by the volume of submissions received.

Applications will be reviewed by Hot Docs staff for completeness and eligibility. Applications deemed complete and eligible will be submitted to the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Advisory made up of documentary industry professionals and selections will be made thereafter in conjunction with representatives from Hot Docs and Blue Ice Group.

The number of successful applicants will be determined by the quantity and quality of projects submitted, the amount of funding available and the decisions of the Selection Committee.

Decision Criteria

Applications for the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Fund 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

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

Fund Recognition

Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund support is to be acknowledged with a prominent logo on the end credits of the film, as well as on all publicity and promotional materials relating to the production. More specific credit requirements will be described in the Agreement.


Successful applicants will receive a conditional commitment letter from the Fund. The applicant must provide copies of signed financial commitments from all sources of confirmed funding to date, and a detailed development or production budget. The conditions will have to be met before an agreement will be entered into. If the conditions have not been met within 30 days of the date of the commitment letter, the Fund may rescind its commitment. Recipients of the Fund will be required to provide Hot Docs with annual project status reports.

The drawdown schedule will be more clearly described in the Agreement. Please visit the FAQ section for a general description that should help successful applicants to plan their cash flow.


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.

Required Information Please use this as a guide and refer to the online application for more detailed information. All currencies must be submitted in Canadian Dollars.

  • Primary contact information and citizenship/residency status for all Director(s) and Producer(s)
  • Production company information
  • Title, genre, duration, language, format, production country
  • Co-production information, if applicable
  • Logline (2-3 sentences)
  • Synopsis (750 words)
  • Topic Summary (750 words)
  • Treatment (500 words)
  • Status Report of Project (500 words)
  • Intended Audience (300 words)
  • Grant Impact (500 words)
  • Proposed Development/Production Schedule
  • Budget Summary
  • Financial Strategy (500 words)
  • Footage Links and description
  • Key creative and production personnel credits (200 words) and biographies (200 words)
  • What you hope to get out of the Mentorship program, if applicable
  • Indicate interest in an invitation for an application for The New York Times—Op-Docs short documentary in association with the project being submitted, in collaboration with the Fund

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. Trailers can be password protected, but must remain live until January 2018. Please ensure that your password does not change during this time. We will not follow up with applicants regarding broken links or expired passwords.

Footage/trailers, if in a language other than English, must be accompanied by subtitles in English.

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: HDBIG17-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: HDBIG17-ProjectTitle-Appendix2


Copies of signed financial commitments from all sources of confirmed funding to date.
Name this file before uploading: HDBIG17-ProjectTitle-Appendix3


Copy of agreements between the co-producing companies (if applicable).
Name this file before uploading: HDBIG17-ProjectTitle-Appendix4

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