Hot Docs Canadian Storytellers Project

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Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and Netflix are pleased to announce the Hot Docs Canadian Storytellers Project, a new five-year initiative that invests in core funding and professional development programs for Canadian filmmakers. In recognition of the systemic barriers that continue to exist within the documentary film industry, the Project will serve filmmakers from groups whose stories have been historically underrepresented on screen. The announcement comes at the start of Hot Docs’ industry conference that is taking place during the Festival’s 25th annual edition, on now until May 6.

“Supporting Canadian storytellers is more important now than ever, and Netflix’s extraordinary commitment will be a game changer for many unheralded documentary filmmakers,” said Brett Hendrie, Hot Docs’ executive director. “This program will champion world-class talent and reflect the incredible depth and breadth of communities across Canada. We thank Netflix for their collaboration and partnership, and we look forward to bringing these opportunities to filmmakers.”

“Netflix and its members around the world are passionate about documentary films and series,” said Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s Vice President of Original Documentaries and Comedy. “We are thrilled to partner with Hot Docs to support Canadian storytellers. This project will promote opportunities for emerging filmmakers, who offer a diversity of perspectives and connect their unique voices to global audiences.”

The Hot Docs Canadian Storytellers Project, generously supported by Netflix, will provide year-round opportunities for documentary storytellers who are Indigenous, Francophone, Deaf and/or have a disability, or who are persons of colour. Hot Docs designed the Project with extensive and ongoing consultations with a diverse group of arts and culture organizations and individual artists across Canada. Hot Docs will engage the support of a Storytellers Advisory made up of film and media professionals from the groups served by the Project to provide ongoing guidance. Members of these groups will also be involved in decision-making processes. The project is supported by Netflix’s commitment to support industry development opportunities in Canada, with a focus on developing the next generation of Canadian creators and talent.

Central to the Canadian Storytellers Project is the establishment of the CrossCurrents Canada Doc Fund, which will financially support 25-40 independent documentary projects from emerging filmmakers over the next five years with grants ranging from $10,000-$50,000 CDN. Both short and feature-length projects will be supported with development, production or post-production funding.

The Project will also support ten fellowships annually for Hot Docs’ Doc Accelerator program for emerging filmmakers. Doc Accelerator Fellows partake in a bespoke two-day private lab during the Hot Docs Festival where they learn from industry experts and engage in hands-on workshops before participating in the Festival’s full slate of industry programming.  After the Festival, Fellows are matched with an established documentary production company in their region for a paid professional development work placement.

Further educational opportunities will be provided through Hot Docs’ Doc Ignite labs, which provide emerging and established filmmakers professional development curriculums on such topics as audience engagement, marketing and distribution. The Hot Docs Canadian Storytellers Project will provide no-cost Doc Ignite labs in multiple communities across Canada each year.

Doc Ignite labs supported by the Hot Docs Canadian Storytellers Project will begin in the summer of 2018 and the CrossCurrents Canada Doc Fund will accept applications for its first round of disbursements in the fall of 2018. At this year’s Festival, ten emerging filmmakers from the identified priority groups are currently enrolled in the Doc Accelerator program through Netflix’s support. Applications for next year’s Doc Accelerator program will be accepted in winter 2019.

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