Hot Docs Podcast Festival Announces 2021 Online Line-up


By Pat Mullen

Listen up! The Hot Docs Podcast Festival returns this month in an online edition that connects audiences through the power of the spoken word. The fifth annual Hot Docs Podcast Festival runs online January 27-29 and spotlights an art form that has united listeners worldwide through this time of social distancing. It’s a rare case where audiences can experience a festival on the go by tuning in and streaming the conversations from wherever they may be under lockdown.

“During this unpredictable year of social distancing, podcasts have become essential listening for their much-needed moments of insight, humour, humanity and escape,” said Alan Black, Managing Director of Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, in a statement from Hot Docs. “Given this, there was no question that we had to move our signature Podcast Festival online. This way, we could bring together and expand our community of pod lovers globally, as well as welcome exciting storytellers who may not have been able to appear live in Toronto. Over the past few months, we have worked tirelessly to curate an incredible lineup that will speak to the power of audio to move, delight and connect us in this new reality.”

The popular festival includes a panel with the Canadaland team on breaking a big story and getting away with it. The Hot Docs Podcast Festival also features panels on podcasts that spotlight BIPOC creators, including conversations about the role of telling the stories of underrepresented communities and systemic racism through true crime. The festival also considers the future for political podcasts—and comedy ’casts—in a post-Trump world. Podcast fans can tune in to all panels and live-listening experiences through a one-stop all-access pass.

The full line-up for the 2021 Hot Docs Podcast Festival is as follows, with synopses from Hot Docs:

Wednesday, January 27
All live events listed in Eastern Standard Time

Personal Storytelling in Podcasts: How To Do it Right Without Selling Your Soul
With Media Girlfriends and podcast producers Tori Allen, Garvia Bailey, Nana aba Duncan and Hannah Sung.

With an insatiable appetite for personal stories in podcasts, these three producers will discuss how to responsibly handle stories of lived experience when it comes to race, class, abilities and more.

11:00 AM

Canadaland on Breaking the Big Story OR How to Take Down a Giant Without Getting Sued Into Oblivion
With Jesse Brown, Jonathan Goldsbie, Andréa Schmidt, Jaren Kerr, moderated by The Globe and Mail’s Robyn Doolittle.

A no-holds-barred conversation about Canadaland’s investigation into the WE charity, discussing the legal and practical considerations when breaking an explosive story with political ramifications, and how to translate journalism into the podcasting medium.

1:00 PM

Listening Party #1
Guests to be announced

Plug in a pair of headphones and join other festival passholders for a listening party featuring exclusive, surprise sneak peeks of some of the hottest new shows of 2021 introduced by their hosts and creators.

3:00 PM

The Epic Journeys of Radiolab: Latif Nasser and Jad Abumrad on The Other Latif and Dolly Parton’s America
The new host of the groundbreaking podcast Radiolab Latif Nasser joins longtime Radiolab host Jad Abumrad to discuss their hit Radiolab offshoot series The Other Latif and Dolly Parton’s America.

6:00 PM

Reckoning with Race: 1619 and Nice White Parents
Nikole Hannah-Jones and Chana Joffe-Walt in conversation with Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Culture writer at Buzzfeed News and host of the CBC Podcasts Party Lines and Pop Chat.

Chana Joffe-Walt, host of Serial Productions’ Nice White Parents, and Nikole Hannah-Jones, host of The New York Times’ 1619 podcast, discuss their hit series and using podcasting to advance the cultural conversation on race.

8:30 PM

Thursday, January 28

Reclaiming True Crime with Gimlet Media’s Connie Walker
Moderated by award-winning Anishinaabe author and journalist Tanya Talaga.

Connie Walker, host of the hit series Missing & Murdered, discusses her new investigative show for Gimlet Media, and using podcasts to tell the stories of the women of colour who are often erased from the true crime genre.

1:00 PM

Internet Explorers: Up Close with Reply All
Moderated by B.A. Parker, producer of New York Magazine’s The Cut podcast.

Reply All’s new co-host Emmanuel Dzotsi and producer Anna Foley discuss the creative process behind their hugely influential, Gimlet Media mega-hit Reply All, and what it takes to tell captivating stories about life in the digital age.

3:00 PM

The Post-Trump World: What’s Next for Political Podcasts with Crooked Media’s Tommy Vietor and Tanya Somanader
Moderated by Sarah Larson, staff writer and podcast columnist, The New Yorker.

Former Obama administration officials Tommy Vietor and Tanya Somanader discuss the future of politics and the media in the post-Trump era and the rise of Crooked Media, the wildly popular podcast studio behind Pod Save America and Pod Save the World.

6:00 PM

Stories for Beautiful Nerds: Roman Mars on The 99% Invisible City
Moderated by Nahlah Ayed, host of CBC Radio’s Ideas.

The host of 99% Invisible discusses his legendary design podcast and The 99% Invisible City, his new New York Times bestselling book based on the beloved series.

8:30 PM

Friday, January 29

Funny Takes on the Daily News with The Daily Zeitgeist
With Jack O’Brien (Host, The Daily Zeitgeist); Miles Gray (Host, The Daily Zeitgeist); J.M. McNab (Writer, The Daily Zeitgeist).

A candid behind-the-scenes discussion with the comedians and writers of comedy news podcast The Daily Zeitgeist, who will talk about how they consistently find the funny in the often-daunting events of the day.

11:00 AM

Big Stories, Big Ideas with Nishat Kurwa (Executive Producer, Vox Media)
Moderated by Vicky Mochama

The VP and Executive Producer for Audio at Vox Media discusses the creative process that goes into building successful shows like New York Magazine’s The Cut and Today, Explained.

1:00 PM

Listening Party #2
Guests to be announced

Plug in a pair of headphones and join other festival passholders for a listening party featuring exclusive, surprise sneak peeks of some of the hottest new shows of 2021 introduced by their hosts and creators.

3:00 PM

Nostalgia Trip: Pop Chat meets You’re Wrong About
With Pop Chat host Elamin Abdelmahmoud and You’re Wrong About co-host Sarah Marshall.

CBC’s flagship pop culture podcast Pop Chat joins forces with the cult favourite You’re Wrong About to make sense of the cultural drama blowing up the internet and explore the rise of pop culture nostalgia.

6:00 PM

Stories That Slay: Roxane Gay in Conversation with New York Magazine’s The CutBestselling author and Hear to Slay host Roxane Gay joins Avery Trufelman, host of New York Magazine’s The Cut, to discuss her latest cultural and political obsessions—and building the black feminist podcast of our collective dreams.

8:30 PM

ON DEMAND | 20 Questions: Inside the Mind of…
What was the first podcast that inspired you? What is the worst show idea you ever had? What is your favorite snack while you are working? Get inside the minds of podcast makers, producers and execs in this on-demand library of recorded talks inspired by the game 20 Questions.

Featuring creators and hosts from:

Adult-ish, The Allusionist, The Big Story, California Love, Commons, Ear Hustle, The Hopeful, Lost Notes, The Memory Palace, Mike on Much, CBC’s Seat at the Table, CBC’s The Secret Life of Canada, Snap Judgment, CBC’s This is not a Drake podcast, and CBC’s Tony Ho.