Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema | Handout

Departed Hot Docs Programmers Speak Up

Statement sheds more light on departures

3 mins read

The ten former Hot Docs programmers who resigned late Sunday night are offering more information about their departure. In a joint statement shared via social media and email, the programmers offer further information about the rocky programming department and toxic work culture at the festival. Later on Monday, Hot Docs announced the departure of artistic director Hussain Currimbhoy.

Hot Docs announced the full line-up for this year’s festival this morning. President Marie Nelson and director of programming Heather Haynes thanked the programmers for their work, encouraged the public to come see the films they programmed, and welcomed their return at this year’s festival or a future edition. There is no word yet if anyone plans to return.

“The ten programmers who have left Hot Docs 2024 have done so independently of any other Hot Docs personnel,” noted the programmers in their joint statement “We consider ourselves to be a principled, process-driven programming team, but this year we were unable to carry out that process.

“Programming Hot Docs is a labour of love: love for both the films/filmmakers, and for the process of selection. We, as programmers, uphold a standard of care for filmmakers – there is an implicit trust between us. Hot Docs does important work, operating under the values of inclusivity and equity.

“Recently, the once welcoming programming environment was turned into a toxic workplace by:
1. a lack of respect for protocol and business communication;
2. the dismissal and/or diminishment of team members’ voices;
3. breaches of contracts across various programmes

“We were expected to work in an ever-changing, chaotic, unprofessional and discriminatory environment. Programming team members approached HR, Senior Management, the President and then the Board in good faith to share our concerns. There was an effort by all parties to work together until a request by the programming team for public transparency (regarding the above concerns) was denied.

“In order for a world-class event like Hot Docs to remain relevant and thriving, the programming team believes it must be kept accountable and transparent. Trust and respect is essential, as is a deeply-held commitment above all to filmmakers – none of this would exist without them, and they’re the reason we do this work. The programming team fully supports and celebrates the films in the festival this year, just as we support all documentary filmmakers working to speak truth to power.”


This year’s festival runs April 25 to May 5.+

Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, Xtra, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association and an international voter for the Golden Globe Awards.

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