CBC, Hot Docs team for ‘festival-at-home’ experience

Hot Docs at Home on CBC will bring Canadian films that would have premiered at the documentary festival to domestic TV audiences. (Unlocked)

As festival and conference organizers find creative solutions to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Hot Docs and CBC have announced a new initiative that will bring Canadian films that would have premiered at the documentary festival to domestic TV audiences.

Hot Docs at Home on CBC, unveiled by the festival and broadcaster on Monday, is a “multiplatform festival-at-home experience” that will see first-run feature docs airing on CBC, CBC Gem and documentary Channel. It starts on Thursday, April 16, with new films airing every Thursday until the end of May.

The initiative kicks off next week with Barry Avrich’s Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art and will be followed by Saloon Media-produced, Elizabeth St. Phillip-directed 9/11 Kids, Tamara Mariam Dawit’s Finding Sally, Liz Marshall’s Meat the Future, Jean-Simon Chartier’s They Call Me Dr. Miami, Nathalie Bibeau’s The Walrus and the Whistleblower and Richard Poplak and Diana Neille’s Canada/South Africa coproduction Influence. CBC and Hot Docs are also prepping interactive, live-streamed Q&A sessions with filmmakers, as well as other original digital content, which will appear on CBC’s online doc web page.

In addition to the premiering films, documentary Channel is also expanding its Hot Docs programming slate to showcase feature-length documentaries from past Hot Docs festivals, running from April 16 to May 10.

As well, CBC Gem will offer streaming audiences a dedicated Hot Docs collection, including features from past festivals and a selection of short docs. According to CBC, its documentary library on Gem features more than 750 titles.

“We are grateful to have an opportunity to shine a light on some of our documentary filmmakers during this challenging period for our creative communities, and ensure their voices and perspectives can be shared widely with audiences across the country,” said Sally Catto, CBC’s general manager of entertainment, factual and sports in a statement.

“Postponing this year’s Festival was heartbreaking, but Hot Docs will continue its mission of supporting documentary filmmakers and bringing their work to audiences through these uncertain times. We’re excited by this unique opportunity to share these vital stories, and we look forward to bringing the full 2020 Festival lineup to our audiences as soon as possible,” added Hot Docs executive director Brett Hendrie.

This year’s Hot Docs had been scheduled to run from April 30 to May 10, but was postponed on March 13 as it became clear this year’s edition would not be possible given the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the Toronto festival unveiled 21 projects that will take part in the online edition of the Hot Docs Forum, including Canadian titles such as Kinga Michalska’s Energylandia