FAQ Index


How do I purchase Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema tickets?

Tickets can be purchased online at hotdocscinema.ca or in person from the Cinema box office at 506 Bloor Street West, which is open daily, from one hour before the first screening of the day.

View the Cinema Schedule

What does RUSH TICKETS mean?

There are no advance tickets remaining, but tickets may still be available for purchase at the venue in the rush line. Roughly one hour before each screening, a line of people wishing to purchase tickets will form outside of the venue. Fifteen minutes before the screening, Festival staff count empty seats in the theatre and allow the corresponding number of patrons from the rush line to purchase tickets at that time. In the past, over 80 per cent of people who waited in the rush line were able to attend.

How do I purchase Festival tickets in advance of a screening?

Beginning March, 20, 2018 tickets for all Hot Docs screenings can be purchased online, by phone (416-637-3123), or at the Hot Docs Box Office.

How do I purchase Festival tickets on the day of a screening?

Tickets can be purchased on the day of the screening online, by phone (416-637-3123) or at the Hot Docs Box Office, until one hour before the screening. Tickets can also be purchased at the screening venue, beginning one hour before the first screening of the day at that venue until show time. All tickets subject to availability.

Is there a fee for ordering Festival tickets, passes and packages online?

Yes, there is an online service fee of $2.00 per ticket and $5.00 per Pass or Package. These fees help us defray the cost of our new ticketing infrastructure. Note that these fees do not apply on orders placed by phone or in person.

What is Hot Docs’ refund policy?

All sales are FINAL. No refunds are permitted.

Tickets purchased or redeemed on a package can be exchanged in person or by phone until Friday, April 20 subject to a $1 administrative fee.

Please remember to check your online order before it is submitted to ensure accuracy.

How early should I arrive before a Festival screening?

We recommend that you arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of each screening. Seating is guaranteed until 15 minutes before the start of every screening, and no entry will be permitted more than 15 minutes after show time.

Can I attend a Hot Docs Festival screening if I am under 18 years of age?

Hot Docs attempts to have all of its films rated by the Ontario Film Review Board by late March, but unless otherwise noted, films are 18+. For more information on rating classifications and the Ontario Film Review Board, please visit www.ofrb.gov.on.ca.


How do I use a ticket package?

In March, the complete Hot Docs Festival schedule will be announced. At this time, you can use your package credits to get tickets to the Festival screenings of your choice, subject to availability. There are several ways to redeem your credits:

A. Online: Sign in with your username or email to browse films, create your schedule, and get your tickets online 24/7.

B. By Phone: Call the box office at 416.637.3123 during regular box office hours.

C. In Person: Visit us person to the Hot Docs Festival Box Office during regular box office hours.

D. At Venues: You can also use your ticket credits in person during the Festival at any of our participating screening venues for same day or rush tickets. Venue box offices will open 90 minutes before the first screening of the day at the venue, and once open will have tickets for all showings at their venue that day. They will not have tickets for screenings at that venue for a later date, or same-day tickets for screenings at other Festival venues.

How do I use my Premium Pass?

First, you need to pick up your pass from the Hot Docs Festival Box Office.

You can use your pass at Festival screening venues to get one ticket to as many screenings as you like*! Simply present your pass to the box office staff at the venue on the day of the screening. Once you have your ticket, you can join the ticket-holders line. You may be required to show both your Premium Pass and a ticket to access the theatre once the doors have opened.
Venue box offices open 90 minutes before the first screening of the day, and only have tickets for the screenings happening that day.
This pass does not allow the bearer front-of-line access, priority seating or access to Hot Docs industry events/facilities.
With a ticket, seating is guaranteed until 15 minutes before showtime; no entry more than 15 minutes after showtime.
*A block of tickets are held in reserve for pass holders, and tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to availability. If no pass holder tickets remain, a pass holder rush line will form and be given priority over the general admission rush line. Fifteen minutes before the screening, Festival staff count empty seats in the theatre and allow the corresponding number of pass holders from the rush line to obtain a ticket.


What is the application process like?

We ask potential volunteers to fill out our application form and attend one of our orientation sessions in March and April.

We don’t hold any one-on-one interviews, but are happy to meet with new volunteers at the orientation sessions.

When will I hear back about my application?

While applications open in September, you will not hear from us regarding next steps until the beginning of February.

Is there an age requirement to volunteer?

Yes, all volunteers must be at least 18 years of age due to the restricted content of some of the Festival films.

What is covered in an orientation session?

Orientation sessions address Hot Docs’ history and practices, with special attention to:

a) What kinds of opportunities are available?
Hot Docs offers our volunteers the chance to develop their skills, and offers roles in leadership, special events, industry, theatre operations, administration, marketing, and more.

b) What is the online scheduling system?
Our online scheduling system for volunteers is called the Volunteer Portal. You will receive access to the Portal after attending an orientation session, where the basics of the system are reviewed.

c) What kinds of benefits are available?
For every shift that’s completed, a volunteer will receive one or more vouchers. Vouchers are distributed at the end of each shift and can be redeemed for Festival tickets or at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers year-round. Other benefits may depend on the volunteer position.

Do I have to attend a training session?

All new volunteers must attend one orientation session; volunteers will not be invited to participate in the Festival without attending.

Some positions may require additional training. Training sessions will take place after the orientation sessions. While some sessions may not be mandatory, we do recommend attending as it provides on-site experience.

Following the sessions, we do post training materials and manuals on the Volunteer Portal.

How many shifts do I have to complete during the Festival? How long is each shift?

We ask all volunteers to complete FOUR shifts with us during the Hot Docs Festival (pre-Festival shifts DO NOT count toward this minimum). You are welcome to complete more than four shifts, but we advise against doing too many (we want you to see films and have fun)!

Shifts range in length but generally last between four and seven hours. There are a few shifts that may be more than seven hours in length.

Do you offer pre-Festival shifts?

We do offer some very limited opportunities before the Festival. Please note that pre-Festival shifts DO NOT count toward the four shift minimum all volunteers are required to complete.

Most of these shifts are with our street marketing team and in our volunteer or main office. They are a great way to stack up some vouchers to use during the Festival!

Can I sign up for two shifts in one day?

The scheduling system we use does not limit you from signing up for two shifts in one day.

Please be mindful of overlaps and travel time between locations.

What do I have to wear for a shift?

Volunteers are asked to wear the official Hot Docs volunteer t-shirt, clean, appropriate and tidy bottoms, and comfortable shoes while on shift. There are some exceptions to this rule, which is why it’s always a good idea to double-check the dress code requirements in the additional details for each shift. We also advised checking the weather, and coming prepared.

If you fail to show up with your volunteer t-shirt and any other dress code requirements, you may be asked to go home.

Does Hot Docs provide accommodations for out of town volunteers?

No, we are not able to house the hundreds of volunteers who help out each yar.

What if I don’t know my work/school schedule right now? Will I still be able to sign up for shifts?

Yes! If you don’t know your schedule until a week or two in advance, we ask that you wait to claim shifts until your schedule is locked. While our system does allow you to drop a shift 48 hours or more in advance of the shift start time, we ask that you only sign up for shifts you can commit to.

Do you provide transit tokens for volunteers?

We only provide transit tokens for “Floater Volunteers,” a team meets at the Volunteer Office and is then assigned based on what locations need assistance. All other volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to and from their shifts.

How do I get access to specialized volunteer roles?

We offer many specialized volunteer roles in the areas of leadership, industry, marketing, special events, and more. These are usually offered to returning volunteers first, before they are open to new volunteers.

Can I watch films while volunteering?

You should never expect to watch films on shift, as you will usually be busy. There are some very rare cases where you may be able to watch a film, but note that you should always check in with your direct supervisor before leaving your post. Feel free to use your vouchers to check out films when you are not volunteering.

I would like to volunteer only at the Hot Docs Ted RogersCinema. How do I apply?

Volunteer opportunities at the Cinema are available to Hot Docs Festival volunteers only. Due to the overwhelming demand for shifts at the Cinema, we keep the team smaller to engage our Festival volunteers year-round. We ask our Cinema volunteers to complete one year with the Festival before committing to year-round opportunities.


I have registered but have not received a confirmation email. Should I be concerned?

Registration and payment are NOT automatic. All registration forms are processed manually on a first-come, first-served basis. You should receive an email within 1-2 weeks of submitting your registration form. If you have registered more than two weeks ago and have not received your confirmation email, please contact Hot Docs registration.

Will I receive a receipt/invoice for my registration fee?

Yes. Once registration is complete, delegates will have the opportunity to view and print their payment receipts. A copy will also be available in the Resource Centre of Hot Docs Online Community.

If I’ve submitted a film to the Festival, do I still have to pay for my pass?

Applicants will be notified by email in early March if their work has been selected to screen at the Festival. If your film has been selected, both the film director and producer (provided they are not one in the same) will receive a complimentary Conference and Networking Pass.

I usually get a press pass. Do I still need to register online?

Yes. Visit the Media section of this website. You will need to fill out the Media Accreditation Form, available beginning in February.

I am unable to attend. Can I transfer my pass to a colleague or receive a refund?

If you are unable to attend Hot Docs, you may transfer your pass to a colleague.

Alternately, a full refund will be available until March 27. If you request a refund between March 28 and April 10, a 50 per cent refund will be granted.

All pass transfers and refund requests must be formally submitted by email to Hot Docs registration, before April 10.

I have registered for the Festival. Where do I pick up my pass?

Hot Docs does NOT mail out any passes or tickets to screenings or industry events. Your delegate package will be ready for pickup at the CBC Docs Industry Centre (93 Charles Street West, one block south of Bloor St., and one block east of Queens Park).

Where can I pick up my screening tickets?

Hot Docs industry pass holders are entitled to one ticket to each screening. Tickets can be redeemed at the theatre’s box office on the day of the performance, beginning one hour before the first screening of the day. For your convenience, a block of tickets are reserved for pass holders. Please note that you must show your pass in order to pick up your ticket.

Will I need my delegate badge to get into parties and conference sessions at the CBC Docs Industry Centre (93 Charles Street West)?

Yes. All delegates must bring their badge to all evening social events; without it you may be refused entry. Social events are reserved for registered delegates who hold a Conference and Networking Pass or All-Access Pass.

Two people from my company want to attend. Can I share one Hot Docs industry pass with my colleague?

No. Each delegate badge will be in the name of the person who purchased it. Every person who wishes to attend Hot Docs must have their own badge to gain entry to events, parties and screenings.

Where can I pick up Doc Mogul tickets that I have ordered?

If you purchased a ticket to the Doc Mogul Luncheon your name has been added to the guest list. Please present your delegate badge at the information desk at the lunch venue on the day of the event. Additional information including details about the luncheon location will be emailed to you closer to the event.

Is there a list available of everyone participating at Hot Docs?

The list of attending delegates is available by accessing the Online Community. The list is updated on a regular basis leading up to the opening of the Festival. Only those who have registered for a Hot Docs industry pass may access the detailed list, including contact information.

Will I have access to the Internet and email in the CBC Docs Industry Centre?

Yes. The CBC Docs Industry Centre (93 Charles Street West) is outfitted with a number of computer terminals that can be used to check email and browse the Internet. The CBC Docs Industry Centre is also equipped with wifi for personal computer and smartphone use. The wifi log in information will be on your pass and available at the Registration Desk.

I have a meeting scheduled, but I have never met the person with whom I meeting and don’t know what they look like. How can I find them?

Most delegates have uploaded a personal photo to their profile in the Hot Docs Online Community. The community is a good resource to get acquainted with your fellow delegates.

I am interested in meeting broadcasters, distributors, sales agents, festival programmers and buyers. How can I tell who those people are if I don’t know them?

All broadcasters, distributors, sales agents, festival programmers and buyers will be distinguished by their delegate badges, which will read “Decision Maker.”

Where is a good place to take a meeting?

All registered delegates have access to the Delegate Lounge at the CBC Docs Industry Centre (93 Charles Street West) where there will be tables arranged for meetings. If you wish to take a meeting off-site, our staff at the Registration Desk will be able to recommend additional places in the surrounding area.


What is the Online Community?

The Hot Docs Online Community is an online space where registered delegates can set up meetings and network before, during and after the Festival. This networking tool is the preferred method of communications during the Festival and is used widely to arrange meetings and to productively manage Festival time.

How do I access the Online Community?

Once your Hot Docs industry registration has been processed, you will receive a confirmation email containing your username and password. At that point you can login.

How long can I access the Online Community?

Your access to the Online Community is valid from the time your registration is processed until registration begins for the Festival the following year (January). The earlier you register, the more access you have to this valuable networking tool.


I received an error message when I tried to pay the submission fee!

Please call your bank. We have found that some banks block the transaction. Tell them that you do indeed wish to make the payment. If you are still having problems email us at [email protected].

Can I re-submit my film from last year?

Hot Docs does not accept re-submissions. If you feel your film has changed significantly in structure or approach from the previous submission, please send a list of the changes that have been made to [email protected].

If my film is selected to screen at another Canadian film festival, is it still eligible for submission to Hot Docs?

Yes, as long as it is not a festival in Toronto. A Toronto premiere is the minimum requirement for all submissions, meaning your film must not have screened publicly or been broadcast before a Toronto audience prior to the Festival. That said, premiere status is something our programming team takes into consideration when making final decisions.

Do you accept series?

Hot Docs exhibits one-off documentaries and omnibus feature docs. If your submission is part of a series, it will be considered but must be able to be screened on its own.

How many films can I submit?

You can submit as many films as you like. However, each submitted film must have its own screener, completed submission form, fee, supplemental materials and meet the eligibility requirements. DO NOT put multiple projects on the same screener.

Do you accept rough cuts?

We strongly encourage filmmakers to submit finished versions of their films whenever possible. Please note that the Festival will only accept one cut per film for programming consideration, and the programming decision will be based on the cut you submit. If needed, Hot Docs will request an updated version and will contact those applicants directly. You may indicate the status of your cut and what changes have yet to be made in the online submission form. Before submitting a rough cut, please keep in mind that we will not consider new versions of the same film for future Festivals.

When do I have to send in my screeners? Is it a postmark deadline

Yes, each deadline is a postmark deadline. If you are sending DVDs your package must be postmarked no later than the deadline to which you are submitting.

Do you require a press kit or other materials?

Please do not send trailers, press kits or any other materials. We ask that you only send DVDs of your film.

If your film is selected, you will be asked to provide a press kit and publicity materials at that time.

Do you accept Blu-Ray?

We are not able to accept Blu-Ray screeners. Please also test your DVDs in a regular, commercial DVD player prior to sending.

Can I send you a new version of my film?

We will not accept updated versions during the programming process.

Can I submit through Withoutabox?

No. Films must be submitted through our online submission form.

Will I get my DVD screeners back?

Due to the high number of submissions we receive, Hot Docs is not able to return submission DVDs to applicants.

How do you decide if a film is Canadian or international?

Our general rule is that any film with 51 per cent or more Canadian financing is considered a Canadian film. If you feel your film is an exception to this rule, please contact [email protected]. Films directed by Canadian filmmakers (Canadian citizens) may also be considered in the Canadian submission category, regardless of the financing countries.

How do you determine country of production?

Country of production is generally determined by financing and birth place/permanent residence of the filmmaker(s). In distinguishing between Canadian and international entries, our general rule is that any film with 51 per cent or more Canadian financing is considered a Canadian film. The location of your documentary does not necessarily relate to the country of production, unless significant financing originated in that country or it is the filmmaker’s place of birth/permanent residence. Significant staffing and crew who reside in the location where the film was shot can also be taken into consideration.


A Toronto premiere is the minimum requirement for all submissions. This means that your film must not have screened or have been broadcast publicly in Toronto prior to the Festival. Private, non-publicized screenings do not affect your premiere status. If you feel your film is an exception to this rule, please contact [email protected] to explain your film’s unique situation.

When will I find out if my film has been selected?

We will contact you via email by end of March. Please note that the primary contact listed on your entry form will be the only person contacted and Hot Docs will not disclose a film’s status over the phone.

If my film is not selected, may I speak with a programmer for notes or comments?

Due to the overwhelming amount of submissions, we cannot provide notes or comments on films not selected for the Festival.

What film format is used for the Festival?

If your film is selected for the festival, we will require 2 DCPs of the film. More information will be provided upon acceptance.


What is the Hot Docs Forum?

The Hot Docs Forum is a renowned international financing event aimed at securing co-productions and funds for feature length documentaries. The Forum is the flagship industry event of the Hot Docs Festival, North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market, and could be the launching pad for your next documentary.

What is the different between the Forum and Hot Docs Deal Maker?

The Hot Docs Forum is a dynamic pitching event that stimulates international co-production financing. Taking place over two days, pre-selected international projects are presented to a round table of leading commissioning editors, film fund representatives, financiers, programming executives and delegates from around the globe.

Hot Docs Deal Maker is a one-on-one pitch-meeting program for film teams seeking financing from the international marketplace. Deal Maker participants meet with commissioning editors, film funds, foundations, and other Decision Makers over three sessions. The Forum is held over two mornings (the first two mornings of Deal Maker) and Deal Maker meetings are held in the afternoon and the following day.

All selected Forum projects are automatically enrolled in Deal Maker, meaning that all 19 selected Forum Pitch Teams have guaranteed pre-scheduled meetings with attending decision makers.

All Forum applications are considered for Deal Maker as a “pre-selection” for the program. Therefore, in order to raise ones’ chances for being selected into Deal Maker, it is best to first apply to the Forum and then to Deal Maker.

Please note that Hot Docs Deal Maker has different deadlines than the Forum. Find out more about Deal Maker.

If our submission is accepted, what is the cost to attend the Festival?

The cost of registration for accepted pitch teams is $734.50 ($650 + 13% HST) CAD per pitch team member. As part of this fee, you receive all the benefits of an All-Access Festival pass, including:

* Access to Festival screenings, conference sessions, workshops, producer-to-producer meetings, Close-Up With… sessions * Access to the Hot Docs Industry Centre (93 Charles St. W.) * Access to Hot Docs Online Community for one year * One Hot Dogs Program Guide and delegate bag * One ticket to the Hot Docs Opening Night Gala and to the Awards Presentation * Access to Happy Hour cocktails, evening receptions and parties * On-site and year-round access to The Doc Shop * Access to Distribution Rendezvous applications * Access to the Hot Docs Forum, as well as Forum services, events, lunches and receptions
* One copy of the Hot Docs Forum Buyer’s Guide

Prior to your pitch, you will receive consultations to structure your pitch and target decision makers, and the opportunity to participate in private pitch training sessions with our experts. During Hot Docs, you will participate in the Forum and Hot Docs Deal Maker. You’ll also receive a submission waiver to submit your doc to Hot Docs once it is complete.

Are there travel or other bursaries to assist producers with the costs of attending and participating in the Hot Docs Forum?

The Hot Docs Forum does not have funds to support your travel but we are happy to write letters of support and/or provide information on your behalf about the benefits of exposure to the world market in your effort to secure outside changes. Please contact industry programmer and Hot Docs Forum producer Dorota Lech to discuss how we may be able to help.

In many cases, your local film institute, film board or producers’ association has a program to provide monetary assistance for attending a recognized market like the Hot Docs Forum. As well, since your trigger financier benefits from having the project presented at the Forum, you should consider talking to them about subsidizing the travel costs and fees or accepting it as a line-item in your budget.

The Regular Pitch Category requires I have a Trigger Financier. What is a Trigger Financier? What is Third Party Financing from the marketplace?

“Third party” means a party unrelated to the production team while “the marketplace” refers to the financiers and buyers of documentaries. The documentary marketplace generally includes theatrical and broadcast, the educational/non-theatrical audiences, film funds and commissions, and online broadcast. Production financing from this marketplace generally takes the form of television or Internet cash licenses, pre-sales and distribution advances, which are fees paid in return for exhibition use of the documentary.

Hot Docs also accept grants from foundations, arts councils and other public agencies such as film funds or commissions as well as other types of funds and arts grants on a case-by-case basis. Historically, the Forum has made exceptions for organizations based on their policies of financing international projects for the marketplace.

Trigger financing is not exclusive to production funding can also include development funding.

Projects in the regular Hot Docs Forum pitch program must have a “Trigger Financier” attached. The trigger financier or market partner is a third party financier from the marketplace who has committed funds to your project. The Trigger Financier can be a broadcaster, distributor, foundation, fund, charity or other legitimate documentary market partner who illustrates a confirmed interest in the project and has contributed financially to the budget. Generally this financier is the main funder or investor in place on the project at the time of application. If the project is selected and the funder is a broadcaster or working for a film fund, they will be asked to attend the Forum and publicly support the project.

We accept successful crowdfunding campaigns as third-party triggers. Successful crowdfunding campaigns should be a part of your financing package. Any additional information will be to the discretion of the selection committee.

Hot Docs also accepts financing received through crowdfunding and crowdsourcing as a third party market partner. If you have any questions please email Forum producer, Dorota Lech.

If my project is selected, does my trigger financier need to attend the Hot Docs Forum?

Please note that a Pitch Team consists of at minimum two Pitch Team Members (most often a director and a producer) and a maximum of three Pitch Team Members (sometimes co-directors and a producer or a director and two producers). The Pitch Team does not include the trigger financier.

If the trigger financier is a public broadcaster or a public film fund, they are expected to attend the Forum to co-present the film. The trigger financier will receive a compensated pass from Hot Docs. This scenario will be discussed and decided once a project makes it past the selection point. If you have any questions, please contact Forum Producer Dorota Lech, [email protected].

Per the requirements of the Regular Pitch category, does the 15% confirmed financing have to come entirely from my third party trigger financier?

No. Your total confirmed financing can be a combination of various funds from your Third Party Financier as well as other investments including, but not exclusive to tax credits, funds and grants, pre-sales, and your own companies’ investment.

Pleast note, there is no minimum amount required from your Third Party Financier.


The Outreach and Engagement Strategy outlines who your audience is and how you intend to market to them. This includes your own outreach and that of any distribution or broadcast partners you may have already secured or approached. We want to know how you position your film within the broader market and how will you will work to build a community around your project.


The digital media component is any interactive elements you might have for your project. For example, a website, interactive documentary, version for a mobile device, etc. This part of the application is not mandatory, but if, for example, you already have a website in place or are in the process of developing additional materials, you can submit the URL or upload screen grabs.


Country of Production is defined as the country from which financing for the production originated and/or the birth place/permanent residence of the filmmaker(s.) It does not refer to filming locations. If the film is an official co-production between multiple countries, please be sure to list all partner countries.

Does my project need a Canadian component or Canadian funding?

No. The Hot Docs Forum is an international event and you do not require any Canadian link within your film or funding structure.

Does the Hot Docs Forum recognize Canadian federal or provincial tax credits as arm’s length, third-party financing to form part of the minimum 15 per cent requirement?

Yes, because it is automatic financing, i.e. a third party automatically issues the credits based on the expenditure of the production budget. Please note that it must be accompanied by eligible trigger marketplace financing.

I don’t have a broadcaster locked in quite yet, but foresee this happening by, or very shortly after, the deadline—can I still submit my project?

Yes, however, this requires the approval of the Hot Docs Forum producer. Additionally, the online Hot Docs Forum entry form must be completed and submitted, along with the supporting documents, BY THE DEADLINE in order to act as a marker for the project. Following, we need as much information as possible on the state of your negotiations with the broadcaster in the status report, and to be regularly kept up to date.

Please note that we require partner confirmation before the proposals are sent to the Selection Committee for evaluation. If we have not received written confirmation from your broadcaster and/or other trigger third-party, market financial partner within a few days after the deadline, your project may be withdrawn. Please contact industry programmmer and Hot Docs Forum producer Dorota Lech to confirm your timeline.

If my project is not selected to pitch is there any way I can still attend the Hot Docs Forum?

You can register for an All-Access Pass to attend as a delegate. This allows you the opportunity to watch the presentations, book private meetings with the Forum consultants and grants informal access to broadcasters and other participants at scheduled lunches and coffee breaks. Hot Docs Forum staff will be on hand during these times to facilitate introductions. As a delegate, you are also eligible to submit your business card for one of the lottery presentation slot that is drawn from the “Mountie Hat” on the first day of the Forum. If your card is drawn, you will be granted a public presentation slot on the second day of pitching.

If accepted, can I amend the information I submitted, including synopsis, treatment, scene select and/or trailer?

Selected projects will have the opportunity to review the written materials, including synopsis and treatment as well as any update info about budget and pitch team members, before they are printed in the Hot Docs Forum catalogue.

Scene selects and/or trailers can be amended until a week prior to the Hot Docs Forum. The final clip(s) should be around 2.5-3 minutes and require the approval of the Hot Docs Forum producer.

What prizes are offered by the Hot Docs Forum?

1. Hot Docs first look Pitch Prizes
At the 2017 Festival, the inaugural first look program, a curated access program for philanthropic supporters of and investors in documentary film that grants behind-the-scenes access to the industry, awarded $100,000 to two projects. The prizes are underwritten and awarded by participating first look partners.

2. Corus-Hot Docs Forum Pitch Prize
There is a $10,000 prize given to the best Canadian pitch. It is selected by a group of commissioning editors that rotates yearly.

3. The Cuban Hat Award
Providing “real cash, no strings attached” support for powerful and unique films, the winner of the Cuban Hat Award receives money raised during the Hot Docs Forum. The winner is determined by observer ballot and the amount depends on what is collected in the room. Hot Docs matches the funds from the hat.

For more information on our prizes, please see: www.hotdocs.ca/i/forum-pitch-prizes


What is The Doc Shop?

The Doc Shop is Hot Docs’ market service which allows officially selected films to be digitally screened on-demand by hundreds of international buyers, broadcasters, sales agents, programmers and distributors in a secure, password protected environment during the Festival (onsite) or after the Festival (online).

What is the difference between The Festival Doc Shop and The Doc Shop Online?

The Festival Doc Shop is an onsite digital facility available only for the duration of the event (10 days), and is accessible only by registered delegates of the Hot Docs Festival. The Doc Shop Online is a year-round Internet site that is accessible only by registered members that are buyers, distributors, sales agents and festival programmers.

When will my film be available online once I submit it and how long will it be online?

If you submit only to The Festival Doc Shop, your film will be available from the first Friday to the last Saturday of the Hot Docs Festival, an 8-day period.

If you submit only to The Doc Shop Online, your film will appear online one week after the Festival and will be available for one year.

If I am submitting my film to the Festival is it automatically included in both markets?

No. All entrants must choose to be included in The Festival Doc Shop and The Doc Shop Online. The following options are available on the submission form:

The Festival Doc Shop: If selected, I want this submission to be included in the The Festival Doc Shop at the festival, allowing the film to be viewed by attending buyers, broadcasters, sales agents, programmers and distributors.

The Doc Shop Online: If selected, I want this submission to be included in the digitally secure and password protected Doc Shop Online, allowing the film to be viewed for a 12-month period by international buyers, broadcasters, sales agents, programmers and distributors.

You must have selected one or both of the above options when you completed the Festival submission form in order to have your film included in both markets.

If you didn’t opt into either of these options on your original submission form and would now like for your film to be included, please contact [email protected].

If I opt-in to The Doc Shop, can I choose to opt-out at a later date?

Yes, if you decide that you no longer want to be included in either The Festival Doc Shop or The Doc Shop Online, please contact [email protected].

If I have opted into either of these markets, are there any extra fees to pay?

No. If you have already submitted your film to the Festival and paid the submission fee, then you do not need to resubmit the film, complete any forms or pay any extra fees.

If selected for Hot Docs, how do I upload my film to The Doc Shop?

You’ll be invited to create an account on CineSend.com, and allow The Doc Shop access to the screeners in your account. Once your screener is listed on the DocShop, you can log in to your CineSend account to see who’s watched your film.

What are the technical requirements for using The Doc Shop Online?

The Doc Shop utilizes an HTML5 video player. Here are the recommended system requirements for optimal playback:

  • Chrome 35+ (Windows Vista and higher, Mac * OSX 10.9 and higher)
  • Firefox 47+ (Windows Vista and higher, Mac OSX 10.9 and higher)
  • Safari 8+ (Mac OSX 10.9 and higher)
  • iOS 6+
  • Android 4.3+

Are there any specific technical specifications that I need to be aware of when uploading my film(s) to The Doc Shop?

Most video formats are accepted - but we recommend at least a 720p video file with stereo audio. If your file is large, try to upload your film from the best internet connection possible.

How can I promote my film if it is in either of The Doc Shop markets?

There are several ways you can promote your film:

If you are attending the Festival, you have access to our Online Community where you can contact individuals to set up meetings and/or let them know about your film.

Research each of the broadcasters/distributors and their specific programming/portfolio mandates. When you know which broadcasters/distributors would be interested in your film, contact them via their websites or the Online Community.

Do entrants give Hot Docs any distribution rights to the film by submitting it to The Doc Shop?

No. Hot Docs only uses the digitized version of your film during the festival dates if the film was registered with The Festival Doc Shop only, or for one year if submitted to The Doc Shop Online.

Is Digital Rights Management (DRM) employed by Hot Docs to ensure someone cannot copy my film?

Yes, The Doc Shop uses DRM (Digital Rights Management) to protect your film by encrypting the media data. When your video is loaded into the Doc Shop player, the player communicates with a licensing service to obtain permission to play the video. This secured request is invisible to viewers. DRM prevents viewers from downloading your film without permission.



A senior producer is an experienced producer who meets the Fund’s eligibility requirements, who can serve as a mentor and vouch for the applicant.

What does ‘meaningfully attached to a project’ mean?

The senior producer agrees to executive produce and oversee the project, and confirms their support in a written letter by them, on their letterhead with a signature.

Can a senior producer also apply with his/her own project to the same Fund?

Yes, a senior producer can support one emerging producer, and also apply to the same fund as the main producer of their own project. This may be a mitigating factor in the selection committee’s decisions.

What qualifies as a commercial release?

Films that were acquired in the market by a third party, and either released: theatrically, or by broadcast, DVD or online platforms/VOD.

My work has screened at film festivals in Canada, but has not been broadcast or theatrically released. Am I eligible?

No. Film festivals are not commercial screenings, and therefore are not an eligible exhibition for this criteria.

Must the primary market partner be Canadian?

No, as long as the project fulfills all other requirements as an eligible Canadian production. The project should eventually be made available to Canadian audiences.

Is a sales agent considered a market partner?

Unfortunately, a sales agent is not an eligible primary market partner. To be eligible, the primary market partner must be able to exhibit the project commercially within one year.

What are examples of new media platforms?

These include partners like iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, broadcast VOD, or any online distributor who purchases a license/rights to the project, in their given territory.

Does “All documents must be submitted in English” include agreements?

If you do not have an English version, please provide a document with the English translation of the terms outlined in the agreements.

What are examples of eligible costs for the Completion Fund?

Production costs, including additional shooting, and post-production costs, including music clearances, archival footage, editing, and sound mix.

What are examples of ineligible costs for the Completion Fund?

Expenses incurred prior to applying to the Corus-Hot Docs Funds; language versioning (audio dub or subtitling); 35mm blowups.

Do Development Fund eligible costs include cutting a trailer to secure more funding?

Yes, this would be an eligible cost for the Development Fund.

If selected, when can I start spending the Development Fund loan?

You can start spending the money as of the date of signing the Corus-Hot Docs agreement.

If a company’s investment is in the form of deferrals, how much can be claimed?

Combined deferrals shouldn’t exceed 10 per cent of the Dev budget total. The gap should be covered by the production company (if there are no other investors).


How does the CrossCurrents Doc Fund define an underrepresented community?

We want you to tell us. It is important for us to understand from your perspective how the community you are telling the story from has been historically underrepresented.

What are considered as eligible costs?

Eligible costs include standard industry production and post-production expenses.

  • Finishing costs (e.g. captioning, versioning, prints) are NOT eligible
  • Proposals seeking support for costs generally incurred as part of film’s development process (e.g. research, development of a script and story proposal, and production of a teaser or trailer) are not eligible, unless in exceptional circumstances.
  • Marketing, distribution and community engagement costs may be eligible as a portion of the grant (maximum 20 per cent). A detailed engagement and distribution strategy should be included with this request.

What are considered as a professional credit?

Professional credits include any commercial (distributed theatrically, on broadcast, DVD or via viable/curated digital platforms like iTunes, Netflix, Hulu) or festival-run short, feature-length or series project (fiction or documentary) where you held the role as director.

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Presenting Platinum Partner

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Signature Partner

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Presenting Partners

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Major Supporters

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