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Hot Docs Jots

How to Hot Docs 2019

Dear Hot Docs Filmmakers and Delegates,

As Hot Docs nears, we have created a primer to help you navigate Hot Docs 2019. We encourage you to check the homepage of our website for a look at the best of the Fest each day.

To our industry guests, we hope you make fruitful connections to get your films made and seen. To all our guest filmmakers who have films in the Festival: We are thrilled to celebrate your film with our Toronto audiences. Congratulations!

There are a number of industry opportunities to enhance your Festival experience. See the growing list of attending buyers here.

Commissioners and key funders reveal their programming strategies, commissioning structures and what they really want from producers.

Sign-up is available in the Hot Docs Forum Lounge at Hart House beginning at 8:30 AM on day of session. Closed to media/social media. All-Access Pass is required.

Tuesday, April 30

3:00 – 3:30 PM
Impact Partners | South Dining Room
bilibili: 3rd Floor South Sitting Room
Cinereach: Gallery Grill
PBS - American Documentary | POV – Great Hall
Sesame Workshop - North Dining Room

4:00 – 4:30 PM
CBC documentary Channel – North Dining Room
PBS – ITVS – Great Hall
Radio Télévision Suisse – RTS – 3rd Floor South Sitting Room
Spiegel TV – South Dining Room
TRT World – Gallery Grill

4:45 – 5:15 PM
BBC Storyville – Great Hall
Chicken & Egg – South Dining Room
Catapult Film Fund – 3rd Floor South Sitting Room
NHK – North Dining Room
ZDF - ARTE Germany – Gallery Grill

Wednesday, May 1

3:00 – 3:30 PM
Al Jazeera English – South Dining Room
ARD - SWR – North Dining Room
Participant Media – Great Hall
YLE – Gallery Grill


Don't miss our engaging and informative industry conference, taking place at the CBC Docs Industry Centre (2nd floor). A Conference, Conference & Networking or All-Access Pass is required. Here are some highlight events at the conference this year.

Mon, Apr 29, 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
The Doc Summit: Dare to be Studio D
Forty-five years after the National Film Board of Canada opened Studio D, the first publicly funded feminist film-production unit in the world, we revisit the studio’s monumental impact on feminist film culture and look to the future of inclusive, diverse docs that implement social change in Canada.

Mon, Apr 29, 1:00 - 2:00 PM
Beyond #MeToo, Cont.
A follow-up to last year’s panel on achieving gender equality in the documentary industry—because there’s still work to be done! This year’s Beyond #MeToo conversation focuses on documentary gatekeepers, asking about the systemic barriers that exist in accessing everything from funding to festivals, and how we can continue to bring solutions to female disempowerment.

Mon, Apr 29, 2:30 - 3:30 PM
Julia & Julia
Hot Docs 2019’s Outstanding Achievement Award recipient Julia Reichert and Focus On honoree Julia Ivanova launch a duologue conversation about the challenges of making pertinacious political films in North America and how the documentary landscape has changed over the course of their careers.

Mon, Apr 29, 4:00 - 5:00 PM
To Pitch or Not to Pitch
On the eve of the Hot Docs Forum’s 20th anniversary, we enlist representatives from international pitching forums to resolve our existential mid-life crisis: do documentary pitching forums service filmmakers and the doc market?

Tue, Apr 30, 4:00 - 5:00 PM
Keynote: Lisa Valencia-Svensson
Diversity, inclusion, representation—what do they really mean? On the heels of the international premiere of Always in Season, producer Lisa Valencia-Svensson of Multitude Films explores why the question, “Who is telling whose story to whom, and why?” should be at the centre of the making of every documentary film.

Thu, May 2, 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Financing the Gap
Recoupment, angel investor and how much ownership? You don’t need to be an accountant to understand equity financing. Producers Bob Moore and James J. Yi clear the fog on the elusive world of Canadian and American equity to help you understand whether the risk is right for your film.

Thu, May 2, 3:30 - 4:30 PM
Masterclass: Nanfu Wang
Director Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation, Hooligan Sparrow) is an Emmy-nominated and internationally celebrated filmmaker known for her courageous and carefully crafted storytelling. In this masterclass, she delves into art of shaping personal stories that seed social change.

Fri, May 3 1:30 - 2:30 PM
Nurturing New Canadian Talent
Like peanut butter and jam, these teams just pair better together. Join a panel of emerging Canadian filmmakers and their seasoned producers on the challenges of breaking out in the Canadian documentary industry and why it's mutually valuable to nurture new, distinctive talent.


These intimate and interactive workshops allow you to take your film to the experts and get your hands dirty. A Conference, Conference & Networking or All-Access Pass is required.

Mon, Apr 29, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM | Northrop Frye Hall, Room 004
Hot Docs Workshop: 7 Deadly Sins of Self-Distribution
Strategist Jon Reiss and Sonja Henrici of the Scottish Documentary Institute team up to teach you the seven common pitfalls when self-distributing your documentary film and solutions to these avoidable errors.

Tue, Apr 30, 10:00 - 11:30 AM | Northrop Frye Hall, Room 004
Hot Docs Workshop: How Are We Going to Break Barriers?
Hot Docs has teamed up with the IDA to open a conscious-raising conversation: how can festivals empower doc creators working with a disability and create a welcoming hub for audiences with all abilities?

Wed, May 1, 3:00 - 5:00 PM | Northrop Frye Hall, Room 003
Hot Docs Workshop: CAVCO Explained
Planning on making a documentary in Canada? The Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office (CAVCO) invites you to learn about best practices for preparing applications for tax credits, recent public notices related to CAVCO policies and useful clarifications about these policies now that they’ve been in effect for a year or more.

Thu, May 2, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM | Northrop Frye Hall, Room 004
Hot Docs Workshop: Here’s What Really Happened
No tweeting. No press. Filmmakers only. These are the kinds of frank conversations you might overhear between filmmakers speaking in hushed tones at the local bar late at night during the Festival. Learn what really happened behind the scenes of a Hoc Docs film as moderated by Ranell Shubert (IDA). Seating is limited and provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Kickstart is a half-day long series of dynamic sessions that provide the essentials for emerging and mid-career doc-makers. All industry pass levels are welcome, and all sessions place at the CBC Docs Industry Centre (2nd floor).

Wed, May 1, 10:00 - 11:30 AM
My First VR Doc
Meet the directors of Traveling While Black, In Bakassi and They Should Be Flowers. These first-time virtual reality doc filmmakers with works premiering at Hot Docs open up about the journey from selecting an idea, to designing for the medium, to launching their final product onto the international film circuit.

Wed, May 1, 12:30 - 1:30 PM
Let’s Work on Your Trailer
In Hot Docs’ 2019 audience research, over 50% of Canadian audiences say they select what to watch based on the trailer. Yet when it comes to marketing trailers, doc filmmakers are behind on the curve. In this session, a roster of editors dissect the elements of a great, catchy trailer.

Wed, May 1, 2:00 - 2:30 PM
Chain & Gain
Filmmaker and producer Jennifer Holness (Speakers for the Dead) teaches the fundamentals of a Chain of Title, how to create one and what you as a filmmaker gain by having one at the ready.

Wed, May 1, 3:00 - 4:00 PM
Maximize Your Short's Exposure
Short but mighty. We gather a cross-section of distributors, digital platforms and sales agents working exclusively with the short form to tackle the question of how bite-sized content can be strategically maximized to bolster opportunities and broaden your career.

Mix and mingle with all festival and industry delegates in The Muskoka Brewery Hub (Burwash Quad, outside the Industry Centre). A Conference and Networking or All-Access Pass is required.

Sunday, April 28 to Thursday May 2, 5:30 - 7:00 PM.



  • Make the Most of Your Meetings
  • Prepare! Research the buyer profiles.
  • Think ahead! Instead of short-term gains, think of long-term connections.
  • Network! Take advantage of all events open to you.


  • Delegate Lounge in the Industry Centre (located at Victoria College)
  • The Muskoka Brewery Hub and The Nook
  • Happy Hour Cocktails
  • Evening Receptions and Parties

Industry pass holders may obtain one ticket to each non-concurrent regular screening. New this year, industry pass holders can obtain tickets on the day of the screening in two ways:

  • Online, beginning at 8:00 a.m. until one hour before the screening
  • At the venue, beginning 90 minutes before the first screening of the day at that venue

Tickets subject to availability.

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