Aiming to become North America’s must-attend doc event, Toronto’s Hot Docs is planning to go to a full seven days in 2000, and will add an IDFA Forum-style pitching format to the schedule. The two-day session will run concurrent to the film fest, which is again taking place in Toronto’s Little Italy from May 1 to 7.
With screening attendees doubling last year over the year before, Hot Docs CEO Chris McDonald says the Toronto event offers more than just bare business. ‘A lot of the buyers and commissioning editors like it when an event such as this is attached to a festival that has a cultural component. They can gauge the general public’s reaction to a film and catch a bit of the buzz, so that it’s not just about the business.’
McDonald gives credit to TVOntario’s creative head of docs, independent production and science, Rudy Buttignol, for being the `Godfather’ of the suped-up event. Buttignol, who first attended the IDFA’s (International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam) Forum for International Co-financing of Documentaries two years ago to support Toronto’s High Road Productions during their pitch for Wrestling With Shadows, says he was struck by the format, and knew it was the perfect fit for Toronto.
‘I think the Forum has two really good aspects to it. One is that you get the commissioning editors around a table for an extended period of time, and if you’ve got the right mix, actual projects are bought and sold. Secondly, for the observers sitting around the Forum, there’s an educational component. You learn the difference between the commissioning editors and broadcasters, the strand briefs, and national tastes. All of a sudden you see that a project that won’t sell in Britain or France will catch on like wildfire between Finland, Austria and Germany.’
While McDonald says that several North American cities were interested in picking up the format, the IDFA wanted the event to go to a city with a strong doc festival already in place. McDonald and Buttignol were happy to provide the venue. ‘They’ve made all the mistakes and have gone through the learning curve,’ observes the TVO exec. ‘For someone to share both the process and the contacts is great.’
Delegate forms for the 2000 event are available at www.hotdocs.ca. Entry criteria are still to be announced.