Hot Docs’ new director of programming Charlotte Cook (pictured) is planning to make the preservation and presentation of classic and rare documentaries a key target for the Canadian festival when she arrives in Toronto next month.
The former Frontline Club head of film programming takes the reins at Hot Docs on December 5, after visiting Amsterdam later this month to attend IDFA, as previously reported.
Talking to realscreen about the Canadian festival, which is the largest of its kind in North America, she said that one of the things it already did really well was encourage new talent and give fresh filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their work to the world.
As such, one of her longer-term key objectives is to help develop the festival 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. “That’s something I really want us to do.”
She added that, having previously worked at the BBC (on the UK network’s ‘Storyville’ strand), she was well aware of how much “amazing archive material” broadcasters had sat on the shelf, explaining that “unless they have a reason to broadcast it again,” it tended to remain forgotten.
“What would be wonderful would be to be able to find some way to have money where you could actually help broadcasters archive things for public or educational use in the future,” she said, “which I’m sure actually a lot of them would love. But that’s a very long-term thing.”
Cook was also keen to pay tribute to the “fantastic” job done by her predecessor Sean Farnel over the past six years, and said she was not overawed by the scale of the job she was taking on.
“It’s a joy to have such a huge program,” she said. “I know some people are intimidated by the sheer size of it, but it’s a blessing in many ways because you can represent so many different countries, so many different filmmakers from all kinds of different backgrounds… We really can be a huge and diverse program; I think that’s what excites me most.”
This past year’s Hot Docs festival saw 201 documentaries playing. The 2012 festival will take place from April 26-May 6.