Hot Docs Announces Free Industry Conference Access and Full Line-Up

Fanny, at Hot Docs in Fanny: The Right to Rock, will play a virtual concert during this year’s Industry Conference


By Pat Mullen

This year’s Hot Docs Industry Conference will be free for audiences worldwide. The festival announced today that the complimentary access for doc professionals will provide opportunities to level the playing field after a year that’s seen a reckoning for improved representation across the industry. This access includes the previously announced keynote with journalist/podcaster Jenna Wortham and the master classes with filmmakers Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Jennifer Holness, and 2020 Outstanding Achievement Award recipient Stanley Nelson. Hot Docs released the full line-up for the industry conference in addition to call for free registration, which opens today.

Free access to the industry conference runs through the duration of the festival (Apr. 29 – May 9). Paid All Access passholders retain exclusive access to pitching programs such as the Hot Docs Forum, the Doc Shop (offering access to festival films), the Deal Maker service, Distribution Rendezvous, and Close Up With sessions that offer more intimate networking opportunities with decision makers and delegates. All Access passholders get an extended window to the Industry Conference materials. Like the festival, the Hot Docs Industry Conference runs online this year.

“As this year’s conference is about re-imagining the place of documentary film and media within a world that has faced so many challenges, often caused or exacerbated by structural inequalities, over the past year, it was important for us to offer an option for accessing this year’s conference sessions for free. This is part of our commitment to welcome new voices into the fold and lower entry barriers, so that everyone is able to participate in these crucial conversations,” said Lisa Valencia-Svensson, acting industry programs director for Hot Docs, in a statement from the festival. “We have an extensive lineup of notable speakers and guests who will be sharing their knowledge and experience. We can’t wait to dive into this thought-provoking conference with our documentary community.”

New additions to the Industry Conference programming offer additional conversations about race, representation, and systemic inequality. What’s the Responsibility of the Doc World?, features IDFA artistic director Orwa Nyrabia and Sundance Documentary Film Program director Carrie Lozano. In The Power of Mentorship, presented by OYA Media Group, Industry Conference participants may discuss the need to create opportunities for the generation of filmmakers. Cinema for Care features Through the Night director Loira Limbal in conversation of documentary ethics, while Everything You Wanted to Know About Accessibility but Were Afraid to Ask looks at shaping docs to consider Deaf and Disabled communities.

Crip Camp Oscar nominees James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham and Landfall director Cecilia Aldarondo offer tips on navigating the virtual festival circuit in Leveraging Your Online Premiere. Similarly, the team behind last year’s Oscar nominee St. Louis Superman looks at the ins-and-outs of campaigning in This Was My Oscars Campaign. Other tricks and tips appear in From Doc to Narrative and Back Again, co-presented by BIPOC Film & TV, the Documentary Organization of Canada and the DOC Institute, offering insight in terms of how documentary filmmakers shift their craft to dramatic works.

On the flip side, journalists Tanya Talaga (at Hot Docs with Spirit to Soar) and Jennifer Ngo (at the fest with Faceless) discuss navigating journalism and documentary in I Am a Journalist. This is Why I told My Story as a Documentary. Questions of documentary and news also appear in The Myth of Objectivity, presented by the REMC and Media Girlfriends, which discusses how BIPOC journalists and storytellers shape a work’s point of view. Other highlights adding some fun to the Industry Conference include an online performance by the all-female punk band Fanny, who appear in this year’s festival selection Fanny: The Right to Rock directed by Bobbi Jo Hart.
Hot Docs runs April 29 to May 9, 2021.