Charlotte Cook heads to Hot Docs

Canadian festival Hot Docs has hired Charlotte Cook, a former BBC 'Storyville' exec and Edinburgh Film Festival programmer, to be its new director of programming.
November 1, 2011

Canadian festival Hot Docs has hired Charlotte Cook, a former BBC ‘Storyville’ exec and Edinburgh Film Festival programmer, to be its new director of programming.

Cook joins Hot Docs from the Frontline Club in London, England, where she has been the head of film programming for the past two years, overseeing a program that showcased more than 100 documentaries each year.

She replaces previous director of programming Sean Farnel, who left the festival in June after six years in the role.

In her new role, Cook will be responsible for developing the programming vision for North America’s biggest documentary festival, taking charge of a slate that last year saw more than 200 non-fiction titles playing over 10 days in Toronto.

“We had a number of interesting applicants for the role,” Hot Docs executive director Chris McDonald told realscreen. “Commissioners, festival directors, programmers… but Charlotte had great energy, lots of ideas, and a solid reputation as a curator.”

For her part, Cook said that while the festival was already well known for promoting new talent, one of her key objectives was to help develop it into “a conduit for preserving past documentary” material.

‘I really hope we can be something that not only looks to brand new documentaries, but also looks to past documentary and helps get things back into the public domain,” she said.

Cook will manage a programming team that includes Lynne Fernie, Sarafina DeFelice, Heather Haynes and Lynne Crocker. Karina Rotenstein, after four years as programming manager, announced her departure from the festival shortly after the news of Cook’s appointment was revealed. LeFelice, previously an associate programmer, will replace her.

McDonald added that, with the notable exception of IDFA director Ally Derks, “festival programming can be a very male-dominated space, and I like that fact that we’ll have a female perspective on things.”

Prior to serving at the Frontline Club, Cook worked with the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where she programmed the specialist strand ‘Conflict/ Reportage’ and managed several events; and was also a strand coordinator at BBC ‘Storyville.’

Cook will relocate to Toronto in December, following the run of festivals and events through the fall.

The 19th annual Hot Docs festival takes place next year from April 26 to May 6.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.