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Presenters on stage at Podcast Festival
Together with Inspirit Foundation and Amazon Music, Hot Docs is thrilled to launch this lab serving BIPOC creators who are based in Canada and have non-fiction podcast ideas in development.

The lab will offer eight fellowships designed to provide emerging BIPOC storytellers with non-fiction series ideas in development. Fellows will have the opportunity to develop their podcast ideas and create a proof-of-concept sample that will help take their work to the next level.

Throughout the fellowship, participants will meet as a group and one-on-one with seasoned audio creators and mentors to develop their project ideas, hone their skills, and navigate pathways to success in the podcast industry. Each project will also receive a $1500 creator grant to support the development of their work. For participants living more than 60km from the location of the sessions, a travel and accommodation stipend will be offered from another Canadian location.

Applications for the 2023 program are now closed.

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2023 Selected Projects

Mend It Like Beckham: 21 Years Later
Creators: Sadia Ali and Chloe Navaretnam   
Is Bend It Like Beckham a good movie? We're covering the impact this watershed moment in Desi visibility had on the entertainment landscape and beyond. Sadia and Chloe are fixing their relationship with this film, do you need to too? 

You Deserve Nothing
Creator: Clif Mark
Meritocracy was supposed to make the world a fairer place for everyone. Instead, politicians from Reagan to Obama used it to justify a society that is less equitable, less mobile and ruthlessly nerdy.

25 NorthEast - by IslamicFamily
Creator: Hussain Khan 
A narrative non-fiction podcast about Canadian-Muslim experiences. Each season, the podcast focuses on a theme and tells true stories from the community through people's lived experiences navigating a particular theme. Season 1 focuses on incarcerated Muslims and the people that work with them.

Flight Response
Creator: Kailun Chen
The unhinged diary of a recovering Toronto lawyer who goes surfing once and decides maybe she should quit everything and move to Costa Rica instead. And all the overthinking about whether such a thing could possibly be ethical or whether it's just a delusional escape from millennial angst.

The Baon Box
Creator: Karen-Luz Sison
Journey through the food scene of the most multicultural city in the world. Hear from the Toronto-based immigrants and refugees who make a living through their food—and the origin stories that make the city's food scene so special.

Heart of Greed (alternatively: My Greedy Heart)
Creator: Yasaman Mansoori
The secret pleasure and agony of a double life. It's possible to keep physical worlds separate for a time—but what goes on in the mind (and heart) when you tear yourself in two? What happens when it all comes crashing down?

This is Your Brain on Drugs
Creator: Liz Singh
This is Your Brain on Drugs is a series of short investigative documentary podcast episodes, each depicting a significant person, event, or story from a lesser-known part of our heritage: The Canadian War on Drugs.

Lost and Found – A Podcast About Fatherhood
Creators: Sandro Silva and Sheena Rossiter
Lost and Found is a five-part narrative documentary podcast where an Afro-Brazilian man, raised by a single mother, discovers the real meaning of fatherhood.


Eight fellows will be selected via an open application process. Applicants to the program must:
  • Be of at least one of the following priority groups: Black, Indigenous, a person of colour
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada
  • An emerging or sophomore storyteller (please see "Applicants" section below for more information)
  • NOT be currently enrolled as a full-time student
  • Be able to participate in lab taking place on Wednesday evenings, 5:00-6:00 pm (EST) between June and August 2023 (subject to change)
  • Have a non-fiction limited podcast series idea in early development that can be honed in September and October 2023 in preparation for an in-person October 2023 showcase event in Toronto. (Please see "Projects" section below for more information)
Eligible applicants will be emerging or sophomore storytellers, with a demonstrated interest in podcasting. Applicants may have previously created independent podcasts or may have worked on podcasts that have been released on a major podcasting network, however eligible applicants may not have helmed or created a podcast that has been released on a major podcasting network (CBC, Canadaland, Gimlet, Radiotopia, Frequency, etc.)

Applicants who are new to podcasting and have been working in other storytelling mediums are also eligible for the program but experience with a linear editing Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) that edits non-destructively (ProTools, Adobe Audition, Reaper, Logic) is highly recommended.

Hot Docs recognizes that podcasting is a collaborative art form and will consider admitting up to two podcast creators to the lab for each selected project. In this case, the primary applicant must meet all listed eligibility requirements, and they should be the one to complete the application form. Please indicate in the application form if you have a co-creator who should join you in the lab. In cases where two creators are admitted to the lab only one creator’s grant of $1,500 will be issued per project. Admission of a second creator will be a Hot Docs’ discretion.

Successful applicants will have a new non-fiction podcast series idea in development. The podcast ideas may not have been previously released.

Projects should be limited series or podcasts with a limited number of first season episodes. Episodes should be connected via narrative trajectory or through the social themes or subject matter that they explore, with each episode contributing to and building on a greater narrative arc or exploration of the subject matter.

Fiction podcasts, chat podcasts, companion podcasts, and news/current affairs podcasts are not accepted.

During the program fellows will work on further developing their projects, creating pitch packages and/or dissemination plans, and will work towards creating either a pilot episode or a proof-of-concept sample that can be used to further pitch their projects.

Program & Benefits

  • Enrollment in Podcast Development Lab
  • Podcast Creator Pass for 2023 Hot Docs Festival
  • Private intensive creative development story sessions, career planning, and skill development sessions encompassing topics such as story structure, pitching, promotion and distribution
  • One-on-one sessions with lab mentors for directed project feedback and career advice
  • $1,500 creator grant (per project) to support the development of the project
For participants living more than 60km from the location of the sessions, a travel and accommodation stipend will be offered.

Lab and Mentorship
Fellows will participate in a private lab taking place from June 2023 – August 2023.  During the lab, fellows will hear from a variety of industry experts and will engage in in-depth workshops. Please note that the lab is held in English, applicants should be comfortably fluent in English in order to participate. The lab sessions and private meetings with mentors will take place virtually using video conferencing technologies.

Fellows will also virtually meet one-on-one with lab mentors to receive specific feedback on their projects and work towards their learning and production goals.

This fellowship program will focus on story development, pitching, navigating the podcast industry, marketing and dissemination. The program will not focus on technical training (editing, recording, mixing, mastering, sound design, etc.)

Selected participants will participate in a follow up survey and feedback reporting after the lab.

Mentors will include seasoned audio creators and industry veterans, and efforts will be made to ensure that they are reflective of the priority groups this program is intended to serve.

Accessibility Support
Hot Docs will work with selected applicants to ensure they are able to fully participate in the program. Resources such as personal support workers or ASL interpreters can be available as needed on an individual basis.

Applications & Selection Process

Applications for the 2023 program are now closed.

Hot Docs is considerate of technological, social and accessibility barriers to the application process. Accommodations that can be provided to support applicants may include an oral or video submission component. Applicants who require assistance are encouraged to request accommodation at least two weeks before the deadline by contacting [email protected].

A jury composed of industry professionals and one Hot Docs representative will review all submitted proposals.

Applications will be considered based on the quality of the proposed project, the applicant’s passion, initiative, experience and promise, and the ability of the program to assist with advancing their goals for their project.

Hot Docs is committed to nurturing, developing, and showcasing new and diverse voices. We believe in storytelling in all its forms as a means to greater empathy and understanding; and we aim to dismantle systemic barriers to allow equal access for everyone to tell their stories and have those stories heard.

Inspirit Foundation funds media and arts for social change, supports young changemakers, and invests its assets to align with its mission to promote inclusion and pluralism in Canada—specifically addressing discrimination based on ethnicity, race, or religion. To learn more, visit

Amazon Music is an immersive audio entertainment service that connects fans, artists, and creators through music, podcasts, and culture. Amazon Music brings fans closer to what they love, with curated and personalized playlists, artist livestreams, artist merch, and Amazon Exclusive podcasts. Prime members get access to millions of songs in shuffle mode, All-Access playlists, plus the largest catalog of top ad-free podcasts, included with their membership. Customers can upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited for full, on-demand access to millions of songs in HD and a growing catalog of Ultra HD and Spatial audio. Anyone can listen to Amazon Music by downloading the free Amazon Music app, or wherever they listen to music including Alexa-enabled devices. Learn more at

Questions? Contact [email protected]

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