Christine Choy as seen in The Exiles | Hot Docs

Hot Docs Industry Programming Focuses on Diversity and Equity

Fest confronts damning audit at Knowledge Network

3 mins read

Academy Award nominee Christine Choy leads the schedule of speakers and events for the industry programming of Hot Docs this year. Choy will be at the festival as the subject of the official selection The Exiles, which won the Grand Jury Prize in Sundance’s U.S. Documentary Competition. The film sees the iconoclastic filmmaker revisit her documentation of survivors’ stories from the Tiananmen Square Massacre. If The Exiles is any indication, Hot Docs delegates are in for an engaging roller coaster ride of a master class.

Equity and inclusion is again at the forefront of Hot Docs’ industry programming. Of particular note on the Canadian front is a panel devoted to the damning findings in racial disparity at British Columbia’s public broadcaster Knowledge Network where an independent audit revealed that only 1.7% of pre-commissioning dollars went to production companies led by Black creatives or People of Colour in the last seven fiscal years, while none of the public broadcaster’s pre-commissions went to Indigenous-owned companies. The findings have triggered a public call for the removal of Knowledge Network’s CEO Rudy Buttignol, who has held the leadership position for 15 years. (Buttignol was also among the founding members of POV.) The event will foster an industry dialogue focused on achieving equity through a racialized lens. Members from the Documentary Organization of Canada, the Racial Equity Screen Office, and the Vancouver Asian Film Festival will participate in the event.

Other industry events include the marquee Forum, which will be held virtually. Hot Docs also features many conversations about gatekeeping and inclusion, including panels on festivals and the role of film criticism in documentary (albeit with no active film critics and only academics, curators, general journalists in the conversation).

Hot Docs’ Micro Meetings return to offer face time with key industry players. The series kicks off with European Film Promotion’s Festival Checklist, which offers a virtual bootcamp to prepare filmmakers for the process of navigating the circuit. The Micro Meetings series also including a session on pitching for Crave, Canada’s premiere cable channel and streaming, which runs the Canadian broadcasts for American networks like HBO and Showtime in addition to hosting many Canadian theatrical features following their festival and/or commercial runs.

Parties are also back to give delegates a return to in-person networking so that everyone can meet colleagues after two years of Zoom. Many panels in Hot Docs’ industry programming will be recorded live and air later in the festival.


Hot Docs Industry events run April 28 to May 7.

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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