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CHATTER: 30 years of Hot Docs Cinema (April 2023)

August 8th, 2023 · No Comments

The hugely successful Hot Docs Cinema celebrates 30 years of programming built on a century long cinematic history on Bloor Street West. COURTESY HOT DOCS CINEMA

As they celebrated their 30th anniversary, Hot Docs screened 214 films from 72 countries over 11 days (April 27 – May 7) “We wanted to bring the most diverse range of films possible to Toronto. People from all of these countries live in Toronto, and we know curious minds will be interested in their films,” said Shane Smith, artistic director of Hot Docs.

Nonfiction podcast events and author/filmmaker talks were included in the festival. The Hamburg film collective, A Wall is a Screen, presented an interactive walk through Ontario Place, during which an audience followed a moving crew that projected short films onto different walls in the area.

Hot Docs offered free admission to films before 5 p.m. every day to students and seniors during their 30th anniversary festival.

Between 1995 and 2023, documentaries only held 1.04 per cent of the market share of film revenue, despite having more theatrical releases than any other genre, reports film data collective, The Numbers. Hot Docs was founded in 1993 by a group of filmmakers who noticed the under appreciation of documentaries in cinema and wanted to share these films with a larger audience.

“The core mission to showcase documentaries is built into Hot Docs’ DNA, but we have grown and evolved since then to foster an ecosystem of filmmakers,” said Smith. Hot Docs now offers funding for filmmakers, provides workshops, and partners with production companies to give commonly overlooked documentaries the chance to hit the silver screen.

The Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema (formerly the Bloor Cinema, previous to that: the Madison Theatre) opened in the Annex in 1913 and was renovated and reopened in 2012 under Hot Docs’ management. The theatre shows documentaries year-round, providing additional screen time and funding for the not-for-profit organization.

“[When you come to Hot Docs] it’s a really powerful and fantastic communal experience,” said Smith. “A lot of documentaries won’t be in other theatres or going to streaming services either, and there’s something for everyone to enjoy.”

—Fox Oliver/Gleaner News


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