Heather Conway is the new executive director and co-president of Hot Docs. The organization announced the news today that Conway would replace outgoing executive director Brett Hendrie, who stepped down in March this year. Conway previously held the position of vice president of English services at CBC/Radio-Canada. She will begin her new role with Hot Docs on November 4.
“Heather is a visionary leader who brings with her a sharp intellect, acute strategic skill and an impressive breadth of experience,” said Hot Docs board co-chair Lalita Krishna in a statement from the organization. “At CBC she embraced independent documentary filmmakers and championed diverse stories and voices. Speaking on behalf of my co-chair Robin Mirsky and the entire board, we’re excited that Heather will be leading Hot Docs into its next chapter, and we are eager to work with her to realize the boundless opportunities ahead.”
“Hot Docs is a hugely valuable cultural institution as famous for its down-to-earth friendliness and inclusion as it is for its commitment to documentary filmmakers and their important work,” added Conway. “I’m thrilled to be joining the team that has so successfully grown the organization into one with such impact and relevance.”
Conway joins Hot Docs after leading CBC’s English services through some transformative years in 2013-2018. Her tenure oversaw the public broadcaster’s digital re-imaging and the launch of CBC Gem. On the documentary front, she emphasized independent point of view documentaries over in-house programming, and guided the CBC towards some of its most popular dramatic and comedic series including Schitt’s Creek, The Book of Negroes, Kim’s Convenience, and Baroness Von Sketch.
This appointment makes Conway the leading executive officer of North America’s largest documentary festival. Conway will collaborate with Hot Docs co-president Chris McDonald and Hot Docs directors Alan Black and Erin Lau on the direction of the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, Hot Docs at Home video-on-demand platform, and partnerships in funding and strategy. Black and Lau were recently added to Hot Docs’ executive team as managing directors.
Conway joins the organization after two challenging years for the festival. Hot Docs was among the first major film festivals to pivot online successfully during the COVID-19 pandemic and grew its reach nationwide through the Hot Docs at Home VOD platform when provincial guidelines shut cinemas in March 2020. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema re-opened its doors to the public on September 10, 2021.