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  • 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 difference between the Forum and 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, distributors and sales agents over three days. 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 20 selected Forum Pitch Teams have guaranteed pre-scheduled meetings with attending decision makers.
  • If our submission is accepted, what is the cost of participating?

    Each pitch team member must register for a Hot Docs industry pass. Selected projects will receive details about pricing and registration.

    Additionally, 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.

  • The Regular Pitch Category requires 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.

  • Does my project require a broadcast partner to apply for the Regular Pitch Category?

    No. Please see above for an explanation of what qualifies as a “Trigger Financier.”

  • If my project is selected, does my trigger financier need to participate in 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 participate in 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 10% 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 "interactive / digital / VR components" include any interactive, digital, or VR elements you might have for your project. For example, a supplementary interactive documentary, a version for a mobile device, a VR component, 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 10% 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 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 two to three minutes and require the approval of the Hot Docs Forum producer.

  • Can I supply additional materials (i.e. a pitch deck, stills, etc.) to my submission?
    No. In an effort to ensure that all projects are considered equally, we do not accept additional materials of any sort.
  • Can I update my application after the closing deadline?
    No. We do not accept updates to applications once they have been submitted or after the submissions close.
  • May I have an extension to submit?
    No. Our submissions are open for 10 weeks and we do not provide extensions under any circumstance. We also encourage applicants to submit well before the deadline in the case of unforeseen circumstances.

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