Hot Docs Industry Masterclasses include Wortham, Nelson, Holness, and Tailfeathers

Jenna Wortham is this year’s opening keynote speaker at the Hot Docs industry conference.
Photo by Naima Green

By Pat Mullen

New York Times Magazine staff writer and Still Processing podcast host Jenna Wortham headlines the latest instalment of industry programming announced by Hot Docs. The festival released details about four masterclasses in its upcoming industry programs. Wortham will be the opening keynote speaker at this year’s industry conference. Arts journalist Garvia Bailey will moderate the discussion, which will further a conversation about race, inclusion, and narrative sovereignty.

Talents leading the way for putting their communities front and centre of their own stories headline the other industry events. 2020 Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award recipient Stanley Nelson, Toronto-based filmmaker Jennifer Holness, and Blackfoot-Sámi actor/filmmaker Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers will each discuss their creative process in an industry masterclass. The directors all have docs in this year’s official selection with Crack, Subjects of Desire, and Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy, respectively. Nelson’s work has celebrated by the Emmys, Peabody Awards, and numerous festivals for docs like Freedom Riders and The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, while Holness’s work includes film, television, drama, and documentary including producing last year’s Hot Docs Special Jury Prize winner Stateless. Tailfeathers previously won both the Toronto and Vancouver Film Critics prizes for Best Canadian Film for The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open.

“Given the extraordinary challenges we’ve faced over the past year, from the global pandemic to widespread calls for racial and economic justice, this year’s industry conference will be focused on the reimaging of our world, documentary’s role within it, and the need to push past conventional forms of storytelling and prioritize new and diverse voices,” said Lisa Valencia-Svensson, acting industry programs director for Hot Docs in a statement from the festival. “These four guests, and their collective body of work, are prime examples of this shift in narrative and perspective that we are encouraging our industry to embrace, and we’re so pleased to be able to offer these exclusive and insightful conversations to our community of filmmakers at this year’s conference.”

Further industry conference details will be released next week. The Hot Docs industry conference runs online May 3 to 7.