MipDoc concluded about a week ago in Cannes, but there’s little rest in store for documentary sellers and buyers, who will attend Canada’s Hot Docs, taking place from April 26-May 6 across Toronto.
While MipDoc is purely a market, Hot Docs is a bonafide film festival with a market component. Charlotte Cook, program director, said that this year Hot Docs added a new film category entitled “Rise Against,” which includes documentaries that deal with activism in some ways, often as a result of the financial crises around the world.
Of the 189 documentaries that will be screened at Hot Docs, 38 will be world premieres, and they will hail from 51 countries (Germany, the U.S., Canada and Scandinavia are prolific this year, Cook said).
On the market front, Elizabeth Radshaw, Hot Docs Forum and Market director, expects a larger attendance. She says online platforms and VOD platforms like Netflix and Hulu will attend. “There are also aggregators there to purchase documentaries for different platforms,” she added.
As part of their conference program, Radshaw said, Hot Docs would like to help filmmakers figure out how exactly to take advantage of digital distribution. They’re running a new thematic program called “Doc of the Future,” which explores how – thanks in large part to social media – filmmakers can become much more closely connected to audiences than ever before.
The connectivity, Radshaw explains, can be financially advantageous to filmmakers, who can get crowd-funding for their products, and can also tap into an additional source of revenue by selling films directly online.
In addition to the two-day pitching event known as Hot Docs Forum (May 2 and 3), and the screenings, Hot Docs offers “awesome networking activities, including cocktail hours and happy hours,” Radshaw said. There are happy hours every day from Sunday, April 29 through Friday, April 4 between 5 and 6:30 p.m.
But Radshaw said the most intense networking days tend to coincide with Hot Docs Forum. “It’s in the hallways of the forum where some of the best meetings take place.”
When asked about the differences between MipDoc and Hot Docs, Radshaw said, “It’s totally different. I’ve gone to MIP for years, and although I love it, it’s really intensive, with back-to-back 30-minute meetings that require running from booth to booth. This is not that. The industry events at Hot Docs are more approachable and casual. As much as you hear people pitching their projects and trying to make deals happen, they’re also talking about the films that they’ve seen. It lends a different atmosphere,” she said.
“But whether it’s a filmmaker selling to a broadcaster or to distributors or new platforms, there are absolutely deals being done. The event also provides opportunities for international co-productions because there are so many international delegations,” she said.
As far as the conference schedule goes, there will be half a day dedicated to digital distribution, half-day workshops on how to write a business proposal and a half-day workshop on interactive docs, among others.