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Introducing the newest pillar of the Hot Docs Canadian Storytellers Project! Generously supported by Netflix, this program is designed for documentary filmmakers who thirst for growth, with a project that shows creative and market potential.

Funding will be provided to the successful team applicant’s project, and each selected team will engage in a series of intensive workshops focused on story, market readiness, and career or company building. The finale of the program will conclude at Hot Docs 2024 where a work-in-progress teaser of the funded project will be presented at the market.

Applications for the 2023 program are now closed.

Five teams of up to two participants (e.g. a director and producer) per project will be selected and will be expected to have previous experience in directing/producing documentaries.

2023 Projects


    Director: Victoria Lean
    Producer: Victoria Lean
    Production Company: Parrhesia Media

    About the Director:
    Headshot for Victoria Lean
    Working in both documentary and comedy, Victoria Lean is an award-winning producer and director whose keen artistic sensibility and forward-thinking approach earned her DOC’s Vanguard Award. She wrote, directed and series produced We're All Gonna Die (Even Jay Baruchel) (Hot Docs 2022) a six-part docuseries about existential threats to humanity for CRAVE. She followed up with The Climate Baby Dilemma for CBC, which premiered November 2022.

    Victoria also executive produced the dramedy I Like Movies (TIFF 2022), one of TIFF’s Top Ten movies for 2022, and produced Matt Johnson’s comedy series Nirvanna the Band the Show (TIFF 2016) for VICE.


    Ever since it confined citizenship to “free white persons” in 1790, American immigration policy has been imbued with racism. The Golden Door explores the cruel realities of immigration for racialized people in the United States, connecting a largely unknown history with some of today’s most disturbing flashpoints.
    Director: Robinder Uppal
    Producer: Marc Serpa Francoeur
    Production Company: Lost Time Media

    About the Director:
    Headshot for Robinder Uppal

    Robinder Uppal is a documentary filmmaker whose work explores issues of social justice and immigration. He is a co-founder (with Marc Serpa Francoeur) of Lost Time Media, which has produced a wide range of linear and interactive documentaries since 2013. In 2020, they released NO VISIBLE TRAUMA, a scathing exposé of police brutality in Calgary, their hometown. In partnership with ITVS and with support from the Sundance Institute, they produced LOVE IN THE TIME OF FENTANYL, which aired on Independent Lens in 2023. Uppal was born in Calgary to Punjabi immigrants and completed his MFA in Documentary Media at TMU.

    About the Producer:
    Headshot for Marc Serpa Francoeur
    Co-founder of Lost Time Media, Marc Serpa Francoeur is an Azorean-Canadian documentarian whose work includes THE WORLD IN TEN BLOCKS (Hot Docs 2016, Sheffield Doc/Fest 2017), THE HEAD & THE HAND (Hot Docs 2018), which was listed by DOC NYC as a top contender for the Oscars’ Documentary Short category, and the CBC Docs Original NO VISIBLE TRAUMA (VIFF 2020, DOK.fest München 2021). Their latest film, LOVE IN THE TIME OF FENTANYL, co-produced with ITVS and the support of the Sundance Institute, had its US Premiere at DOC NYC 2022 and broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens in early 2023.


    Saints & Warriors is the harrowing and inspiring story of how basketball became not only an obsession, but a means for survival on the remote Indigenous nation of Haida Gwaii.
    Director: Patrick Shannon
    Producer: Michael Grand
    Production Company: Ball is Life Entertainment

    About the Director:
    Headshot for Patrick Shannon

    Patrick Shannon, also known as Nang Ḵ‘uulas, is an award-winning Indigenous film director, social entrepreneur, and photographer from Haida Gwaii, Canada. Patrick’s work centres around social and cultural justice, and the elevation of marginalized voices through education, youth mentorship, media, and technology.

    About the Producer:
    Headshot for Michael Grand
    Producer Michael Tanko Grand's most recent documentary work includes SATAN WANTS YOU, which had its World Premiere at SXSW 2023 and has its Canadian premiere at Hot Docs 2023, I’M JUST HERE FOR THE RIOT, an ESPN 30 for 30 that has its World Premiere at Hot Docs 2023, and THE GRIZZLIE TRUTH, about the story of the Vancouver Grizzlies which won the VIFF 2022 Audience Award and is now available on Crave.


    Your future is being written in the sand.
    Director: Kenya-Jade Pinto
    Producer: Shasha Nakhai
    Production Company: Compy Films

    About the Director:
    Headshot for Kenya-Jade Pinto
    Kenya-Jade Pinto is an Indo-Kenyan-Canadian filmmaker. Her training as a human rights lawyer has deepened her practice as a documentarian. She has participated in DOC Institute’s Breakthrough Program as well as HotDocs’ Emerging Filmmaker Program. She’s the filmmaker-in-residence at York University’s Refugee Law Lab, and in 2021, she was named a National Geographic Explorer.

    About the Producer:
    Headshot for Shasha Nakhai
    Shasha is a Toronto-based storyteller with over a decade of experience. Her work has aired on the BBC, CBC, ZDF, and Arte; screened at the MoMA; been nominated for 16 Canadian Screen Awards; named TIFF's Top 10; and shortlisted for an Oscar. She is an alumna of TMU’s Journalism Program, TIFF’s Talent Accelerator, Berlinale’s Toolbox Programme, the Hot Docs Doc Accelerator, WIFT’s Ubisoft Toronto Producer Mentorship, and the DOC Institute Breakthrough Program.


    This Land of Ours is a feature-length documentary depicting the realities of the people of Barbuda, a small island in the Caribbean and the rebuilding process after Hurricane Irma's destruction.
    Director: Ngardy Conteh George
    Producer: Alison Duke
    Production Company: OYA Media Group

    About the Director:
    Headshot for Ngardy Conteh George

    Hailing from Sierra Leone and raised in Canada, Ngardy Conteh George is an award-winning filmmaker committed to working with systematically excluded communities, especially those that represent the rich cultures and complexities of the African Diaspora. Her films include TV hour ‘Mr. Jane and Finch’ (CBC), winner of two 2020 Canadian Screen Awards and award-winning Sundance Documentary Film Fund supported feature-length documentary ‘The Flying Stars’ (Best Documentary – BronzeLens Film Festival, 2015). She is currently producing two feature documentaries and co-directing ‘Black Community Mixtapes’, a documentary series with OYA Media Group, a Black women-led production company she co-founded.

    About the Producer:
    Headshot for Alison Duke

    Alison Duke is a multi-award-winning producer/director and co-founder of OYA Media Group. Her work has aired on Canadian and US networks, including Netflix, Sundance Channel, CBC, PBS, BET, TVO, Much Music, Starz, OMNI and SuperChannel. Currently, Alison is directing 'Bam Bam: The Story of Sister Nancy' for CRAVE and co-directing a five-part unscripted series 'Black Community Mixtapes' for CityTV. In 2018, she initiated the OYA Emerging Filmmakers program to support Black youth in the entertainment industry, and the program's 'Being Black in Toronto' series won the 2021 Canadian Screen Award. Alison is nominated for a 2023 Canadian Screen Award as an EP for 'Evil By Design: Surviving Nygard' series on CBC and Starz. 

The Team

The (co)director(s) will be an equal or majority rights holder attached to the film project.

Team applicants will have demonstrated experience in directing and/or producing, respective to the roles they are attached to the project. They will be required to have each directed/produced or co-directed/co-produced a minimum of one to a maximum of three documentary features that have screened at a recognized film festival, market-backed online or physical exhibition (not self-published), or have related industry experience.

Mid-career directors who also produce are welcome to apply. Producers working on projects with no directors attached are not able to apply.

Team applicants must live in Canada as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, though the project may be filmed in any country.

Team applicants must be committed to participating in:
  • All planned in-person incubator sessions
  • The 2024 Hot Docs Festival, Conference & Market

The Project

  • Project must be in late-development or active production on the submitted project. Projects in early post-production may be considered;
  • Must be for a feature-length format; no series work accepted at this time;
  • Proof of meaningful creative and financial and copyright ownership of the project by one of the team applicants;
  • Projects have the promise of a strong storyline that appeals to a broad international audience;
  • Due to the design and duration of the lab, we are looking for projects that is anticipated not to be completed by Hot Docs 2024 for the work-in-progress screening

The Program

Production funding: 
  • 35,000 CAD grant to be granted to each of the five successful projects;
  • Drawdown schedule: one at the time of signing, and final one after the work-in-progress screenings.
Each Intensive session will be in person and 4-5 days long, delivered in-person and online, with these anticipated dates (subject to change):
  • Intensive 1: June 5 – June 9, 2023
  • Intensive 2: November 6 - 10, 2023
  • Intensive 3: February 5 – February 9, 2024
Sessions will be led by expert facilitators and speakers, at an intermediate/advanced level and will delve deeply into the art and business of documentary, career & company building, and market readiness.

The Intensives are spaced out over a period of 8 months, to allow for progress on the project and incorporation of the advice gleaned in the previous lab.

For Hot Docs 2024, the teams will be required to deliver a high-quality teaser that highlights the film-to-come, so the projects may have a dedicated platform for showcase to international decision makers and Industry delegates.


Participants will be an alumnus of Hot Docs and receive these benefits, in addition to:
  • Complimentary Conference & Networking Pass to 2023 Hot Docs Festival;
  • Complimentary All-Access Pass to 2024 Hot Docs Festival;
  • For participants living more than 60km from the location of the Incubator sessions, a travel and accommodation stipend will be offered from another Canadian location.


  • A strong teaser for the project that will serve as a calling card and assist the team in business development for the project, including pitching to financiers, distributors, commissioners, platforms and others;
  • Progressed on the development/production of their film with experts working in tandem;
  • Increased confidence from the cross-discipline sessions that helps enhance practical knowledge on the craft and business of documentary filmmaking for application towards future projects and opportunities;
  • Establish or enhance relationships with fellow filmmakers in the cohort.

Equity Statement

We actively encourage and are prioritizing applications from members of groups with historical and/or current barriers to equity, including, but not limited to:
  • First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, and all other Indigenous peoples;
  • Members of groups that commonly experience discrimination due to race, ancestry, colour, religion and/or spiritual beliefs, or place of origin;
  • Persons who are disabled or neurodiverse;
  • Persons who are Francophone.
We recognize that many of these identities intersect and that therefore, equity, diversity and inclusion can be complex. We value the contributions that each person brings, and are committed to ensuring full and equal participation for all in our community.


The online application must be submitted in English or French on or before the deadline. There is no application fee. All materials received by Hot Docs are confidential.

Applications for the 2023 program are now closed.

Application Questions & Required Supporting Documents
To learn more about the application questions and required supporting documents, please review our Required Information. This information is for reference only; all applicants must complete an online application.

Application Support
The Hot Docs Incubator application is considerate of technological, social and accessibility barriers to the application process.

The electronic application is available in English and French. The application process will be considerate of the applicant’s ability to communicate their submission; accommodations that can be made may include an oral or video submission component.

Potential applicants who require assistance are encouraged to request accommodation at least two weeks before the deadline date by contacting [email protected] or by leaving a message at 416.203.2155 ext 286.

Incubateur Hot Docs

Nous sommes fières de vous présenter le nouveau pilier du Canadian Storytellers Project : l'incubateur Hot Docs. Généreusement supporte par Netflix, ce programme est conçu pour les cinéastes documentaires qui visent à grandir, avec un projet qui démontre de la créativité et du potentiel commercial. Le projet de l'équipe sélectionnée se verra finance, et chaque équipe choisir prendre part a une série d’ateliers intensifs qui viseront à travailler la narration, l'aptitude sur le marché, et le développement de carrière et/ou de compagnie de production. Le programme prendra fin au festival Hot Docs 2024, durant lequel un teaser « projet-en-cour » sera présenté pour le marché documentaire.

Les candidatures pour le programme 2023 sont désormais closes.

Cinq équipes, formées d'un ou deux participants par projet (ex. un réalisateur/trice et producteur/trice) munies d'expérience en réalisation/production de documentaires, seront sélectionnées.


Les (co-)réalisateurs/trices devront êtres détenteurs égaux ou majoritaires des droits attachés au projet.

Les membres de l'équipe auront démontré de l’expérience en réalisation et/ou production, respectivement aux rôles qu'ils/elles prennent dans le projet soumis. Ils/elles seront chacun requis d'avoir produit/réalisé ou co-produit/co-réalisé entre 1 et 3 films documentaires (court ou long-métrages) qui ont été présentés a un festival de film reconnu, qui ont été exposés en personne ou en ligne (excluant l'autopublication), ou qui ont toute autre expérience équivalente.

Les réalisateurs/trices de mi-carrière qui produisent également sont encouragées à soumettre une application. Ce programme n'acceptera cependant aucun projet soumis par un/une producteur/trice sans réalisateur/trice attachés/ées.

Le projet soumis peut être tourne en dehors du Canada, cependant les candidats doivent vivre au Canada en tant que citoyens Canadien ou résidents permanents.

Les candidats doivent nécessairement s'engager à participer :
  • aux séances incubatrices préplanifiées en personne ;
  • a la conférence, au marche et au festival Hot Docs 2024.

Le projet

  • Le projet soumis doit être en fin de développement ou activement en production. Certains projets en début de préproduction pourront êtres considérés.
  • Il doit être de format long-métrage. Pour l'instant, aucun projet de série ne sera accepté.
  • Les candidats doivent démontrer que le projet est le produit de leur investissement créatif et financier, et qu'ils/elles sont les détenteurs majoritaires des droits attachés au projet de film.
  • Les films sélectionnés seront juges prometteurs narrativement et potentiellement attrayant pour un large public international.
  • Due à la conception et à la durée du laboratoire, nous cherchons des projets qui ne sont pas prévu d'être complété avant HOT Docs 2024 pour les séances de « projet-en-cour »

Le programme

A quoi s’attendre pour le financement de la production :
  • Une bourse de $35,000 CAD sera allouée à chacun des cinq projets sélectionnés ;
  • Calendrier des paiements: Un après avoir signé, et ; Le dernier après les séances de projet-en-cour.
A quoi s’attendre pour les ateliers intensifs :
Chaque séance intensive durera entre 4 et 5 jours, sera en personne ou en ligne, en prendra prendra place (sujet a changement) :
  • 1ere seance: 5 Juin – 9 Juin 2023
  • 2eme séance: 6 Novembre – 10 Novembre 2023
  • 3eme séance 5 Fevrier – 9 Fevrier 2024
Chaque séance sera guidée par des porte-paroles professionnels, a un niveau expert/intermédiaire, et visera à réfléchir en profondeur l'art et le commerce des films documentaires, l'établissement de carrière et d'entreprise, et la préparation au marché ;
Ces programmes prendront place sur une période de 8 mois, pour permettre à la progression du projet soumis d'y être intégré graduellement, et vice versa, d'incorporer les outils glanés dans les ateliers aux projets.
A quoi s'attendre pour la séance de "projet-en-cour”:
Pour Hot Docs 2024, les équipes sélectionnées devront présenter un trailer de haute qualité, qui mettra en valeur le projet à venir, pour que ces projets puissent avoir une plateforme de visibilité international ciblée aux délégués de l'industrie.
A quoi s'attendre pour la bourse :
Les participants seront des gradues de Hot Docs, recevront ces bénéfices ainsi que :
  • un laisser-passer Conférence & Réseautage pour le festival Hot Docs 2023;
  • un laisser-passer tout-accès au festival Hot Docs 2024.
  • Pour les participants qui vivent a 60km ou plus du lieu de rencontre des séances incubatrices, un fond de voyage et de logement sera accessible à partir d'un point de départ au Canada.


  • Un teaser efficace pour le projet qui servira de carte-d'affaire et aidera l'équipe a développer le projet commercialement, a le présenter a de potentiels investisseurs/trices, distributeurs/trices, commissaires, plateformes, et al.
  • La progression du projet en développement ou en production réalisée en tandem avec des professionnels de l'industrie ;
  • Une confiance accrue provenant des séances interdisciplinaires qui aidera a renforcer les connaissances pratiques sur la pratique et le commerce du cinéma documentaire, applicable à de futurs projets et opportunités ;
  • Les fondements ou le renforcement de relations durables avec les autres cinéastes prenant part au programme.

Declaration d'equite

Nous encourageons vivement et priorisons les applications provenant de membres de groupes faisant face historiquement et/ou présentement a des barrières de non-équité, dont, non-exclusivement :
  • Les peuples Premières Nations, Métis et Inuits, et tout autres peuples Autochtones ;
  • Les membres de groupes communément discrimines en raison de leurs race, descendance, couleur de peau, religion et/ou croyance spirituelle, ou lieu d'origine ;
  • Les personnes incapacitées ou neurodiverses;
  • Les personnes Francophones.
Nous reconnaissons que ces identités peuvent souvent s'additionner et qu'ainsi l'équité, la diversité et l'inclusion peuvent être complexes. Nous valorisons la contribution de chacun et chacune, et sommes engagés à assurer une participation pleine et équitable de tous les membres de notre communauté.


Exigences pour appliquer

Le formulaire en ligne doit être soumis en Anglais ou en Français avant la date finale de soumission. Il n'y a pas de frais d'inscription. Tous matériaux reçus par Hot Docs sont confidentiels.

Les candidatures pour le programme 2023 sont désormais closes.

Questions concernant l’inscription & documents requis
Pour en savoir plus sur toutes questions concernant l'inscription au programme, dont quels documents justificatifs sont requis, veuillez consulter notre page d'Information Requise. Cette information est seulement à fin de référence ; tous candidats doivent compléter une inscription en ligne.

Le programme d'inscription à l'Incubateur Hot Docs est attentif aux barrières technologiques, sociales et d'accessibilité qui peuvent affecter les candidats.
Le formulaire électronique est disponible en Anglais et en Français. La procédure d'inscription prendra en compte la capacité du candidat à communiquer sa candidature ; l'adaptation pourra inclure, entre autres, la soumission de composantes sonores ou vidéos.
Les candidats potentiels qui requièrent de l'assistance sont encouragés à placer une demande d'adaptation au moins deux semaines avant la date limite, en contactant fun[email protected] ou en laissant un message au 416.203.2155 ext 286.


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