Hot Docs and CBC Collaborate to Bring Canadian Festival Selections Online

Liz Marshall’s Meat the Future is one of several 2020 Hot Docs selections that will debut online in a partnership between the festival and CBC

By Pat Mullen

Hot Docs is officially moving some of its 2020 programming online. Hot Docs and CBC Docs announced today a joint venture to bring some of the Canadian titles that were programmed for this year’s festival onto the web. This announcement follows the recent postponement of the physical festival as a responsible measure amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic. The decision, surprisingly, moves the festival run up by two weeks. While Hot Docs events were originally supposed to kick off April 30, the Canadian content will begin to premiere on CBC, CBC Gem, and Documentary Channel on April 16. One other Toronto festival was also expected to begin online programming during that period with a forthcoming announcement.

The decision is good news for filmmakers who are eager to show their films to audiences as quickly as possible, and likely forgo theatrical opportunities in favour of feeding the growing streaming needs of audiences, but it’s also encouraging for doc fans craving new content at home. However, the quick move forward somewhat compounds reviewers/media who play a role in generating buzz at festivals and are already experiencing anxiety-inducing levels of PR campaigns and quickly-shifting release plans for coverage. But everyone needs to move forward with COVID-19 physical distancing stipulations putting events in limbo at least through the end of June.

The online festival “opens” with Barry Avrich’s Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art. Avrich is a staple of the festival having recently debuted docs like Blurred Lines and The Reckoning at previous editions of Hot Docs. Other Canadian docs at the festival include Liz Marshall’s Meat the Future, Tamara Dawit’s Finding Sally, Jean-Simon Chartier’s They Call Me Dr. Miami, and the Sundance hit Influence. The online events will include live-streamed Q&As with filmmakers and other interactive digital elements to be announced shortly.

Hot Docs will announced its full slate of festival programming on April 14. Details about how and when audiences can expect to see the film will be announced shortly. Industry events are also moving online, but during the previously scheduled dates for the festival proper.

The full list of Hot Docs/CBC Festival selections are:

Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art
Thursday April 16 on CBC and CBC Gem at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) and documentary Channel at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT

An entertaining and suspenseful look at the dark side of New York’s art scene, and the bizarre characters behind the largest art fraud in American history.

9/11 Kids
Thursday April 23 on CBC and CBC Gem at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) and documentary Channel at 9 p.m. ET/PT

It’s the most famous whisper in American history. President Bush learns of the 9/11 attacks while sitting in front of 16 schoolchildren. Today those kids are in their mid-20s and offer a fascinating window into post 9/11 America.

Finding Sally
Thursday April 30 on CBC and CBC Gem at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) and documentary Channel at 9 p.m. ET/PT

A personal investigation into the mysterious life of the director’s aunt Sally, an Ethiopian aristocrat-turned-communist-rebel who disappeared during the Ethiopian Revolution.

Meat the Future
Thursday May 7 on CBC and CBC Gem at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) and documentary Channel at 9 p.m. ET/PT

The prospect of meat consumption doubling by 2050 is a wake-up call for solutions. The planet’s future may lie with cell-based meat, a food science that grows meat from animal cells, without the need to slaughter animals.

They Call Me Dr. Miami
Thursday May 14 on CBC and CBC Gem at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) and documentary Channel at 9 p.m. ET/PT

In a world obsessed with self-image Dr. Michael Salzhauer is a rising star. This in-demand plastic surgeon livestreams butt lifts and breast augmentations and is followed by millions on Snapchat. He’s also an Orthodox Jew, married for 20 years, with five children. The film explores both his family life and religious beliefs, along with his internet pop-culture fame and persona, Dr. Miami.

Thursday May 21 on CBC and CBC Gem at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) and documentary Channel at 9 p.m. ET/PT

Investigating the rise and fall of the world’s most notorious public relations and reputation management firm, the film charts the recent advancements in weaponized communication.

The Walrus and the Whistleblower
Thursday May 28 on CBC and CBC Gem at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) and documentary Channel at 9 p.m. ET/PT

A whistleblower is sued for $1.5 million for plotting to steal a walrus and falls down the rabbit hole of a personal quest against the backdrop of a movement to end marine mammal captivity.