Hot Docs Partners Supports ‘Influence’ and ‘We Are Here’

In a scene from We Are Here, Boufeldja Benabdalla addresses the media following the sentencing of the Quebec City Mosque gunman. Also present is Aymen Derbali (bottom right), a survivor of the attack.
CBC News

By Pat Mullen

Hot Docs announced the first two film projects to receive support from the new Hot Docs Partners initiative. The festival announced today that the first recipients of the $2.6-million fund are Influence, directed by Richard Poplak and Diana Neille, and We Are Here, directed and written by Ariel Nasr and produced by Sergeo Kirby.

Influence takes an expansive journalistic inquiry into the practice of geopolitical spin-doctoring as Poplak and Neille interrogate the “democracy industrial complex.” The doc is a Canadian-South African co-production between Canada’s EyeSteelFilm and South Africa’s Fireworx Media and Chronicle Productions. The film participated in last year’s Hot Docs Forum under the working title Agents of Influence and is a timely investigation into the parties who constructed the foundation for the era of “alternative facts,” “fake news,” and “post-truth” messaging.

Lord Tim Bell, founder of Bell Pottinger, in a still from Influence.
Photo from the production

We Are Here gives voice to the community devastated by the mosque shooting in Quebec City on January 29, 2017. Nasr, who previously directed the 2012 Hot Docs selection and Canadian Screen Award winner The Boxing Girls of Kabul, also participated in Hot Docs’ original production In the Name of All Canadians with a short that also spotlighted the stories of Muslim Canadians. Kirby has produced documentaries such as Shiners (2018) and H2Oil (2009), and directed the 2006 documentary Wal-Town The Film. We Are Here is a CBC and Canal D documentary made with support by Hot Docs Partners and SODEC and the Canadian Media Fund.

The Hot Docs Partners initiative launched at last year’s festival and offers a competitive opportunity to connect Canadian and international feature documentaries with investors. The initiative is led by industry programs director Elizabeth Radshaw and draws upon Hot Docs’ extensive industry network in a matchmaking exercise. Hot Docs Partners works with the supported projects through all stages of production through distribution.

Visit the POV Hot Docs Hub for more coverage from this year’s festival.