subs HD16 bnr

Festival Film Submissions

Submissions for the 2021 Hot Docs Festival are open.

The 2021 Hot Docs Festival is scheduled for April 29-May 9. Given the ongoing reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently planning a hybrid festival experience that offers both online steaming and in-cinema screenings, held in accordance with applicable public health guidelines. Should the situation with the pandemic change, contingency plans will be in place to expand or limit in-cinema presentations, as required.

More detailed information on the hybrid festival model and contingency plans will be made available upon acceptance to screen at Hot Docs.

Deadlines and fees have changed from previous years. Please review the guidelines before submitting.


Questions? Check out our submissions FAQs for additional information.

Submission Fees & Deadlines

Early Regular Late Extended**

OCT 21

NOV 18

DEC 16


Short (1-40 min)





Feature and Mid-Length (41+ min)





Online forms and streamable links must be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. ET on the due dates listed above.

**Extended deadline is only available for feature-length films (66+ min) submitting as a world premiere

Please note that HST taxes (13%) are not included in the above fees. All amounts are in CAD.


All submissions:

  • must have been completed after January 1, 2020
  • features and mid-length films must be at minimum Ontario premieres (i.e. cannot have been screened publicly in Ontario prior to the 2021 Festival, including broadcast versions of any length or in any language)
  • short films must be at minimum Toronto premieres (i.e. cannot have been screened publicly in Toronto prior to the 2021 Festival. Short films available online are considered Toronto premieres.)
  • features and mid-lengths must not be available online in any form, for any period of time, to Ontario audiences prior to the 2021 Festival (this includes DVDs for purchase or VOD of any length or language) - not applicable for short film submissions
  • must be in English, subtitled in English or English versioned (non-English language films may be submitted with an English transcript; however, if selected for Hot Docs, it must be subtitled or dubbed into English at the applicant’s expense)
  • may not have submitted to the Festival previously in any stage of completion (i.e. films that were submitted as rough cuts will not be reconsidered)

Please note: It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to secure clearance from all copyright holders of materials included in the submitted film. Hot Docs will not be held responsible for the unauthorized inclusion of copyrighted materials within or relating to the submitted film. Hot Docs reserves the right to disqualify any film with unauthorized copyrighted materials.

Questions? Check out our FAQs or contact us at [email protected].


All fees outlined above include:

  • Submission to the 2021 Festival for programming consideration;
  • Administrative expensive related to cataloging and previewing each film;
  • Inclusion in The Festival Doc Shop (official selections only);
  • A 12-month presence on The Doc Shop Online (official selections only).

Please note: Inclusion in The Doc Shop onsite and online is included only for official selected films if the applicant opts in during the submission process.

Submission fees are non-refundable.


Hot Docs accepts Canadian and international documentaries of all lengths and subject matter.

All Hot Docs screening programs are curated and all submissions will be considered by Hot Docs’ programming team.

For the purposes of eligibility and awards consideration, Hot Docs uses the following definitions:

Film Length

  • Feature-Length: 65 minutes or longer
  • Mid-Length: 40 to 65 minutes
  • Short: under 40 minutes

Country of Production and Submission Categories
Submissions to the Festival are divided into two categories:

  • Canadian Submissions: All films produced in Canada and/or directed by Canadian filmmakers. The director must currently reside in Canada with permanent resident status or be able to provide proof of Canadian citizenship. If the film is co-directed, at least one of the directors must meet this criteria.

  • International Submissions: All films produced outside of Canada and directed by non-Canadians

Hot Docs reserves the right to determine which submission category the film will reside in if selected.

Country of Production
The origin of the majority of the film’s financing and/or the film’s key crew members, which can also include the location of significant production support.

Rough Cuts/Fine Cuts
Rough/Fine Cuts: The Festival will only accept one cut of each film for programming consideration. If needed, Hot Docs will request an updated version and will contact those applicants directly.

Made in… Program
Each Festival, Hot Docs presents a program showcasing recent films from a selected country or region.


Applicants will be notified of programming decisions via email by the end of March 2021. Final programming, categorization and slotting of films will be determined by the Festival programming team. Their decision is final. Successful applicants will receive this information in their official invitation.

Hot Docs is under no obligation to provide comments or feedback regarding the submitted film to the applicant or any other representative of the submitted film.

No screeners or application materials will be returned. Do not send film prints, master tapes or other originals.



  • Hot Docs has two juried competition programs for feature films, Canadian Spectrum and International Spectrum, and several non-competitive programs.
  • Feature-length films in the two Spectrum programs are eligible for jury prizes.
    • International Spectrum films are chosen by the programming department and must be at minimum an International Premiere, with priority given to World Premieres.
    • Canadian Spectrum films are chosen by the programming department and must meet CAVCO requirements and be directed by a Canadian Citizen or permanent resident.
  • Selected mid-length films chosen by the programming department will be considered by the jury for Best Mid-Length Documentary.
  • International Short Films that are world or international premieres will be eligible for the Best International Short Film Award. *Short films available online are considered Toronto Premieres.
  • Canadian Short Films that are produced in Canada and directed by a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident will be eligible for the Best Canadian Short Film Award.
  • Audience Awards: All films selected for Hot Docs, with the exception of those screening in retrospective programs, are eligible for the Audience Award for their runtime category (Feature, Mid-Length, Short).
  • All CAVCO certified Feature Length Canadian Films, directed by a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident with the exception of those screening in retrospective programs, are eligible for the Rogers Audience Award.

Hot Docs is recognized as a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards® in the Documentary Feature and Documentary Short Subject categories. The winner of Hot Docs’ Best International Feature Documentary Award qualifies for consideration for the Oscar for Documentary Feature, and the winner of Hot Docs’ Best Canadian and International Short Documentary Awards qualify for consideration for the Oscar for Documentary Short Subject without standard theatrical runs, provided the films otherwise comply with the Academy rules.

Hot Docs is also BAFTA-recognized festival, acknowledged to be one of the most trusted and respected arbiters of excellence in the art of short filmmaking. Shorts screened at Hot Docs fulfill an important eligibility criterion for entry to the BAFTA British Short Film and British Short Animation categories at the EE British Academy Film Awards.


Step 1: Online Submission Form & Payment

To submit your film for consideration, you must complete and submit Hot Docs’ online submission form.

If interested in The Festival Doc Shop and The Doc Shop Online, please mark the appropriate boxes noted in the Terms and Conditions section of the entry form.

At the end of the form, you will be asked to make a credit card payment. All major credit cards are accepted. If you get an error message, please call your bank as we have found that some banks block the transaction.

Step 2: Send Us Your Online Screener or Link

Copy and Paste the link and password into the online submission form under the section titled “Screener Information.”

Please note: The password to your film link must not change during our programming process. All links must be received by the deadline that the film is applying to. Hot Docs does not accept links or submissions via email.


Submission guidelines for Hot Docs are subject to change. Hot Docs reserves the right to rule on all issues not expressly covered in these guidelines.

All >

Presenting Platinum Partner

  • logo Scotia Wealth Management

Founding Partner

  • logo Rogers

Signature Partner

  • logo CBC Docs

Presenting Partners

  • Logo Crave 2019
  • logo Netflix

Major Supporters

  • logo telefilm
  • logo tourism_Celebrate-Ontario