Aje Short Pitch Bnr

Hot Docs Al Jazeera Short Pitch

Despite COVID-19 and the postponement of the Hot Docs Festival, we are proud to announce that the Hot Docs Al Jazeera Short Pitch for Witness will be hosted digitally. The online pitch will be accessible to registered Hot Docs industry delegates.

Up to six Canadian filmmaking teams will pitch their short doc projects to a panel of judges online.

We ask filmmakers to be mindful of this unique situation: In this moment of pandemic and social distancing, what necessary stories can be responsibly shared with the world? The documentary community is challenged to consider the constraints they face and push the boundaries of the art form in new and innovative ways.

The competition will award at least one winner with up to $50,000 USD for a full commission, and the winning project(s) will premiere on the Witness strand across Al Jazeera branded platforms, including television, online and apps.

Short Pitch Date: May 4, 2020

AJE Witness showcases independent documentaries that place people at the heart of the story. With inspirational and provocative stories, and intimate character-led accounts, AJE Witness provides an insight into the world’s key global events as they impact people’s daily lives. AJE Witness films look at the big issues from the inside out and celebrate the human spirit, with a sense of humour and poignancy even in the most difficult of circumstances. Al Jazeera English reaches more than 352 million households in over 150 countries, delivering bold reporting that informs, empowers and challenges perceptions.


  • Only Canadian citizens, Permanent Residents, or those with Refugee status in Canada may apply.
  • Only independent Canadian production companies are eligible.
  • To be considered for a full commission projects must be at a concept stage. More developed projects will be considered on merit.
  • Project runtime must be 25 minutes.
  • Applicants may submit up to two applications, but only one project from that applicant will be eligible and selected as one of the final six presented at The Pitch.
  • Selected pitch teams must be registered for the 2020 Hot Docs Festival.
  • Applicants at all levels of experience are welcome to apply. Please see criteria for submissions for further details.


  • Projects must be a standalone, original documentary that appeals to Al Jazeera’s Global News Audience.
  • Subject matter does not necessarily have to be Canadian and can present an international subject.
  • Applicant teams must consist of at least a director and a producer, one of whom has at least one screen credit in their respective role on a project that has either been broadcast and/or screened at a recognized film festival or distributed on a significant curated online platform. Subject to approval by both Hot Docs and Al Jazeera.
  • Budgets must reflect the story’s complexity, specific production elements, any special production techniques (if applicable), required archival footage and/or, music rights, production and E&O insurance and any other requirements which result from the creative materials.
  • Additional funding may be obtained from film agencies and/or contributions from third parties such as film festivals, philanthropic funds and grants subject to Al Jazeera’s prior approval.
  • Projects must be completed and delivered to Al Jazeera no later than 1 Feb 2021.


The following information must be provided in the application:

  • Primary Contact Information
  • Project Title
  • Production Company
  • Language(s)
  • Logline
  • Short Synopsis
  • One-page Treatment
  • Short status report
  • Director’s Statement
  • Top-line budget
  • Confirmed financial sources and financing scenario (if applicable).
  • Key creative and production personnel biographies
  • Trailer, teaser, or clips sent via a single streamable link of film footage or visuals (still or moving), between 3-5 minutes run time (if applicable).

Note: Incomplete applications will not be considered. Individual feedback is not guaranteed if one’s application is unsuccessful.


  • Up to six finalists will be selected by a committee of industry experts to participate in the Pitch.
  • Each of the selected pitch teams will be given 5 minutes to pitch their project and show a trailer in front of an online audience and panel of judges. They will receive 5 minutes of feedback.
  • The pitch teams will receive pitch training at the Hot Docs Festival prior to the Pitch.


  • Hot Docs Industry Programs will not take rights or liabilities in projects selected.
  • Winning projects will be required to enter into a standard agreement with Al Jazeera.
  • If fully funded by Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera retains all rights on all media in perpetuity. If co-funded, Al Jazeera retains copyright to the 25 min version, but the awardee retains their rushes and can produce significantly different versions.
  • The winners of the Hot Docs Al Jazeera Short Pitch will be required to acknowledge the program’s support through the placement of Hot Docs’ logos in the project’s final credits.
  • Releases may be required from on camera participants at the Pitch for Hot Docs’ marketing use.
  • Application and participation of film teams implies acceptance of the above terms.
  • Hot Docs Industry reserves the right to change the guidelines or procedures at any time.


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Presenting Platinum Partner

  • logo Scotia Wealth Management

Founding Partner

  • logo Rogers

Signature Partner

  • logo CBC Docs

Presenting Partners

  • Logo Crave 2019
  • logo Netflix

Major Supporter

  • logo telefilm