Shortly after the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival unveiled the programming lineup for its in-person 2022 edition, Alan Black (pictured), longtime managing director of the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema and director of operations for the Hot Docs festival, announced via his social media accounts that he will be stepping down from his position following this year’s festival.
“After two decades @hotdocs playing a small but significant role in building an [ever]-growing Canadian community of documentary filmmakers, film lovers, and curious minds, I have decided that this festival will be my last,” wrote Black at the beginning of a Twitter thread posted yesterday (March 31).
“Those who know me well will [chalk] this decision up to Covid or burnout, but the urge has been burning deep within for some time. I might have left a few years ago, but felt committed to helping steer the ship through the scary instability of the pandemic. Now with a visionary new leader in place along with a brilliant executive team and an unbelievably talented staff whom I hope I have in some small way prepared for the future, I am confident I can step away without @hotdocs missing a beat.”
Black first joined Hot Docs in 2001, working his way up from box office manager to the role of managing director of the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema and director of operations for the Hot Docs festival, which he has held for the last 10 years.
Parallel with his work for the festival, he continued his career as a documentary filmmaker in his own right, directing such films as Strongman: Hugo Girard (2002), about the six-time Canada’s Strongest Man champion; Beautiful and Deranged: The Song of the Yukon (2006), which spotlights three of the Yukon’s foremost musicians; and Jackpot (2009), about the regulars at a Toronto bingo hall.
“I came to Hot Docs in 2001 as a young filmmaker looking for a job that would allow me to pursue my passion projects,” said Black in his Twitter thread. “Twenty years later it is clear to me that the job I stumbled into to pay my bills was in fact my passion project.
“I have devoted the better part of my adult life and most of my creative energy to helping turn Hot Docs from a small, local festival into one of the most vital and vibrant cultural organizations in the count[r]y. Now after twenty years, it is time for me to step away and return to some of the passion projects I have put on hold these many years. I am eager to explore new opportunities, tread some new paths, and determine where else I can be of value.”
“Alan shared his plans with us to leave Hot Docs after this year’s festival several months ago and we, or course, are sad to see him go,” said Hot Docs co-president Chris Macdonald in a statement released following Black’s announcement. “His invaluable contributions have helped the organization grow enormously over the past two decades, and we thank him for his hard work and dedication and wish him all the best as he starts a new chapter.”