Special Report for Hot Docs! 98: Joining the Canadian Club

As one of the largest producers of documentaries in the world, Canada has both a financial environment...
March 1, 1998

As one of the largest producers of documentaries in the world, Canada has both a financial environment

conducive to coproduction and a high tolerance for edgy, often controversial subject matter. In honor of Hot Docs! ’98, the Canadian International Documentary Festival Awards and Conference, Gerry Flahive offers a sampling of the Great North’s hottest new docmakers, and Susan Karnay decodes how to capitalize on Canadian financing incentives

Hooking into Hot Docs

The mandate of Hot Docs (March 18-22 in Toronto) was ‘always to celebrate the art and business of documentary film,’ as well as to showcase Canadian doc talent, says executive director Deborah Nightingale. Hot Docs! ’98 will screen 61 films in competition, boiled down from 408 entries, and eight in a curated film series from Germany.

In addition to the festival, the event includes a pitch session (moderated by Pat Ferns of the Banff Television Festival, Discovery U.K.’s Chris Haws, and Jan Rofekamp of Films Transit), micro-meetings wherein producers are matched with commissioners, and ‘Producers Breakfasts’ intended to bring together filmmakers for partnership discussions.

A spotlight on arte is the centerpiece of the industry conference, with head of documentaries, Hans Eisenhauer, and commissioning editor, Christoph Jorg, on hand. The multi-national European broadcaster was invited because of its openness to coproduction with Canadian producers, according to Nightingale.

Also scheduled to be in attendance are Alan Haley and Robin Gutch of C4, Nick Fraser from the bbc, a&e’s Amy Briamonte, Tapestry’s Nancy Walzog and reps from National Geographic and Turner.

Over Hot Docs’ four-year lifespan, the event has become increasingly international. Says Nightingale: ‘We’ve established ourselves as a bridge between Europe and North America.’

International hot docs! contenders

Best International Doc under 60 minutes

In My Father’s House

D: Fatima Jebli Ouazzani

P: Marty De Jong

Mabo: Life of an Island Man

D: Trevor Graham

P: Denise Haslem/

Phillip Nelson

Memories D’Immigres

(In Three Parts)

D: Yamina Benguinui

P: Philippe Dupuis-Mendel

Wasteland (Auf Der Kippe)

D: Andre Schwartz

P: Stephan Schuber/

Ralph Schwingel

Best International

Doc under 60 minutes

The Disappearance of Tisoeur: Haiti After Duvaller

D/P: Harriet Hirshorn

The Diving Bell and

The Butterfly

D/P: Jean-Jacques Beineix

I Don’t Know Where, or

When, or How…

D/P: Zelimir Gvardiol

An Imaginary Life

D/P: Don Featherstone

Out For Love… Be Back Shortly

D/P: Dan Katzir

Best Doc Produced by a Broadcaster Outside Canada

Desert Storm’s Deadly Weapon

A&E Television Networks

The Execution Machine: Texas Death Row


The Fifties: Fear and The Dream

The History Channel

Heart of a Child


The Search For Mother Russia’s Children


In this report:

-The Next Generation: Canadian Docmakers on the rise

-Finding the Canadian Nest Egg: Government Financing via copro and co-venture

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.