Mass programmer Exodus raises questions on eve of hot docs 2024 announcement

Mass Programmer Exodus Raises Question on the eve of Hot Docs 2024 Announcement

Tomorrow morning the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival is scheduled to announce the line- for the 31st annual edition of the film festival to be held from April 25-May 5, 2024. Earlier this month, it was reported that the festival is still trying to recover financially post-pandemic and that there is a chance that this year's festival could be the last if doesn't receive more government funding. Then, in a sudden development , Globe and Mail critic Barry Hertz shared the following on X, formerly known as Twitter:

Today, it was confirmed by Screen Daily that ten members of the Hot Docs programming team suddenly received. While many of the programmers leaving were recent additions to the team, others such as Myrocia Watamaniuk and Angie Driscoll have been part of Hot Docs for 20 years or more. While no solid explanation has been given for this mass exodus, a subsequent report by POV Magazine suggests that the reasoning could be that the 2024 Hot Docs line-up is being shrunk by 15-20%, including the removal of specialty programmes such as the experimental Markers and the episodic Deep Dive, with this year's programming being specifically catered to increase attendance.

I have been going to Hot Docs since 2011 and departing programmers Angie Driscoll, Myrocia Watamaniuk, and Gabor Pertic have been around for that entire period. Angie Driscoll was responsible for my favourite Nightvision programme, Hot Docs' answer to TIFF's Midnight Madness, often featuring horror documentaries or other off-beat subjects. I would be heartbroken if it turns out that Nightvision will be part of the 15-20% cut from Hot Docs.

The Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival was one of the first casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, with both the 2020 and 2021 festivals being completely virtual. The festival then returned with a hybrid format in 2022, before going back to being fully in-person last year. As Hot Docs is arguably second only to TIFF when to Toronto's top Film Festivals, I'm surprised to discover that it is still trying to recover from the financial hit of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will find out soon enough how much Hot Docs has been affected when this year's full line-up is announced tomorrow morning.

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