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Hot Docs Festival 2023 to Premiere Seven Short Docs from Canadian Filmmakers Commissioned for Its Acclaimed Citizen Minutes Project

Hot Docs will premiere seven original short documentaries commissioned for the second series of Citizen Minutes at Hot Docs Festival’s 30th Anniversary edition, April 27 to May 7 in Toronto. Citizen Minutes is an initiative that seeks to inspire viewers to become change agents in their own communities. These remarkable short docs come from Canadian filmmakers looking to highlight bold and unlikely changemakers, ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things to improve their communities. Citizen Minutes will also feature an educational component to promote youth-led civic engagement, with Hot Docs organizing community screenings to engage young adults, and developing complementary resources linked to curricula to enable educators to use the films as teaching tools. The Citizen Minutes project is made possible through support by The Rossy Foundation.

“Audiences at Hot Docs Festival 2023 will be moved by these essential stories about regular Canadians working to impact their home communities for the better,” shared Paul Lewis, co-executive director, Hot Docs. “It is invigorating to see how this new batch of shorts is engaging with youth changemakers taking proactive steps to improve the lives of people in their spheres. Canadian youth need to see more stories like these—stories where they can see themselves reflected and be inspired to take action on an issue they care about.”

Since their world premiere at the 2021 online Hot Docs Festival, the Citizen Minutes Series 1 short docs have gone on to screen independently at over 25 Canadian and international film festivals, including the Vancouver International Film Festival, ImagineNATIVE, Athena Film Festival, Local Sightings Film Festival, Regent Park Film Festival, Africa in Motion Film Festival, Toronto Lift-Off Festival, and the Inside Out Film Festival, and have won festival awards, including the Vox Popular Media Arts Festival’s People’s Choice Award, which went to director Rachel Garrick’s film, The Gift. Citizen Minutes Series 1 is available to stream online across Canada on Crave and Hot Docs at Home.

The Series 2 commissioned films were chosen by an internal Hot Docs selection committee and produced by producers John Choi and Lisa Rideout.

“These films aren’t afraid to spark uncomfortable conversations about who we are and where we live,” Co-Producer John Choi. “Civic engagement can often be born out of grasping with our collective identity and bravely realizing that change is possible and that one person can make a giant dfference. I am inspired by these Canadian changemakers.”

“We are honoured to work with such bright filmmakers, who are attuned to the communtity needs of engagement and exercising their democratic voice,” said Co-Producer Lisa Rideout. “These filmmakers are bringing fresh, innovative, and youth-centred narratives to the table–stories that reflect life’s challenging realities while brimming with hope and optimism.”

The seven Citizen Minutes Series 2 short films are:

D: Sean Stiller
Joleen Mitton, a Néhiyaw woman and the founder of Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week (VIFW), shows how she build community using fashion, as she works to undo years of trauma–in herself and others.

D: Cat Mills
A couple of activists try to put the mute button on Noise Pollution in Toronto.

D: Kelly Zemnickis, Cass Gardiner
Despite a tumultuous upbringing that would break most, Janelle Niles confronts being Black and Mi'kmaw head-on, embracing her biracial experience and two-spirit identity, while using stand-up to heal and usher in a new era of inclusive Canadian comedy.

D: Josiane Blanc
Teen youth activist collective La Voix des Jeunes Compte try to make meaningful change to school board policy across Quebec.

MIND CHECK 1,2 1,2
D: Ian Keteku
A viral rapper uses his voice to uplift young people struggling with mental health.

D: Sara Ben-Saud
A portrait of the Dépanneur Sylvestre, an atypical place that aims to break down isolation for members of the displaced Gatineau community.

D: Farhiya Ahmed
The first all-female Muslim softball league in North America empowers women through sports in a community where women traditionally don't take part.

To watch the Citizen Minutes Season short doc collection visit

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