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Hot Docs 2024 Presents 168 Film Line-Up Amid Behind-The-Scenes Turmoil

With the news of the mass exodus of ten programming team members still fresh on everyone’s might, and later updated to include news of the departure of Artistic director Hussain Currimbhoy, the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival announced its 2024. At the start of this morning’s Hot Docs 2024 Press Conference, the film festival’s US-based president Marie Nelson, herself the subject of criticism in a post by a Hot Docs employee to Reddit, went off script during her opening comments to address this elephant in the room.

Hot Docs Director of Programming Heather Haynes, introduced with an emphasis on her 17 years with Hot Docs, revealed that the Opening Film of Hot Docs 2024 will be the International Premiere of award-winning director Dawn Porter’s Luther: Never Too Much, about late R&B singer Luther Vandross. This marks a deviation from the tradition of Hot Docs opening with a Canadian documentary, such as 2022’s Into the Weeds or last year’s Twice Colonized. Luther: Never Too Much is also part of a new Hot Docs 2024 programme, “Pop/Life,” showcasing six documentaries about music and musical creators. Other selections in this programme include Teaches of Peaches, about the Toronto-based electro musician, and Eno, a completely A.I. generative documentary about Brian Eno.

With curator Angie Driscoll among the ten departed Hot Docs programmers, I feared about the future of the festival’s Nightvision programme, which focuses on boundary-pushing, outside-the-box docs. The good news is that Nightvision will be part of the Hot Docs 2024 line-up, but the bad news is that this year’s line-up is limited to three films, none of which include horror docs of past years, such as Shooting Bigfoot, The Nightmare, or last year’s It’s Coming. Instead, we will be treated to the International Premiere of Secret Mall Apartment, about people living in a mall, the North American premiere of Invisible People, about Japanese Butoh, and the Canadian Premiere of Grand Theft Hamlet, about a production of Hamlet put on inside Grand Theft Auto Online.

Of the 168 films that are screening at Hot Docs 2024, only 38 of the films, or 22.6% are Canadian. I am bringing this fact up because there is a concern that a deemphasis on Canadian content is part of the reason for the behind-the-scenes turmoil. Concurrently with the Hot Docs 2024 Press Conference, the departed programmers released a statement about their toxic work environment, shared on social media, including by Globe and Mail critic Barry Hertz.

While Hot Docs 2024 features plenty of films I am interested in seeing, such as the North American Premieres of Michel Gondry, Do It Yourself and Pelikan Blue, it still should be said that this is a year that the festival is at a crossroads. However, I am not going to delve too much into what the future of Hot Docs will hold and try to enjoy the Hot Docs 2024 line-up. The 2024 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival will be taking place from April 25 to May 5, 2024.

This post was proofread by Grammarly 
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