advocacy

DOC Statement about Hot Docs

April 1, 2024

April 1,2024

DOC statement to our community about Hot Docs

As a member-driven organization representing independent documentary creators across Canada, the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) is dedicated to promoting, supporting and developing the art form of documentary filmmaking. This letter to our community is to express our deep concern with what has and is presently unfolding with Hot Docs and to offer our support. Our shared goal is a thriving and long-lasting Hot Docs and we believe this is a moment that can benefit from our working together.

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival was founded by DOC thirty-one years ago as a filmmaker-centered initiative that celebrates the art and craft of documentary filmmaking. While we are two separate organizations, we are intrinsically linked through DOC’s historic representation on the Hot Docs board of directors, and through an annual royalty payment that Hot Docs pays to DOC; an important source of funding for our advocacy work on behalf of the community. 

The DOC National Board met with DOC representatives on the Hot Docs board on March 28th, 2024, to discuss the resignation of the programmers and the festival’s response to date.  From our meeting with the DOC reps on the Hot Docs board, we were made aware that the board of directors responded quickly to concerns raised by the programmers and that there is currently a third party investigation underway. We also now know that there are specific protocols that need to be followed regarding labour contracts that are currently unfolding. We encourage the festival to be as transparent and forthcoming as possible to prioritize communication with the community.   

The departure of the programmers is a huge loss. We are concerned about the underlying issues indicated by the programmers and the questions they have raised in their statement last week. Following our meeting with the DOC representatives on the Hot Docs board, we understand that work is underway to address these concerns.

DOC’s National board wants to support the Hot Docs board, leadership, and staff in exploring the option of a thorough external review, to take place after this year’s festival. We also invite DOC members to gather in Toronto on May 2nd at the El Mocambo, for an important discussion to reflect on the current situation, and possible solutions. This conversation will continue online so members across the country can participate. 

Hot Docs is crucial to Canada’s documentary community. Many of us have grown up with the festival. This is where we have connected with each other, with programmers, audiences, distributors and with funders. We have shared our films and have come together as a community to engage with the public. We want the festival to succeed and thrive this year, and into the future. We thank the remaining festival staff who are working tirelessly to pull the festival together right now.  We look forward to supporting and celebrating all the filmmakers who have films in the festival this year and we encourage our members and supporters to come together for Hot Docs 2024.

The Documentary Organization of Canada’s National Board of Directors