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Hot Docs Sees 10 Programmers Exit Ahead Of 2024 Festival

Ahead of the 2024 edition of the Hot Docs Canadian Documentary Festival, 10 programmers have announced their exit — among them, Senior International Programmer Myrocia Watamaniuk, who revealed on Facebook that she’d be exiting after spending more than 20 years at the organization.

“I have made the heartbreaking choice to exit the 2024 Hot Docs Festival,” Watamaniuk wrote. “I do so with 9 of my fellow colleagues, listed below. I will continue to fight for films and filmmakers—they are the bedrock of all film festivals, and the reason I do this job.”

Others Watamaniuk cited as leaving included International Programmer, Features Samah Ali (who was with the fest from 2020-2024), International Programmer, Mid-Lengths Vivian Belik (2020-2024), International Programmer, Markers Jesse Cumming (2021-2024), Senior International Programmer, Features & Shorts Angie Driscoll (2003-2024), International Programmer, Mid-Lengths Margaret Pereira (2023-2024), International Programmer, Features Gabor Pertic (2010-2024), International Programmer, Features Kaitlynn Tomaselli (2023-2024), International Programmer, Shorts & Canadian Programmer, Features & Shorts Mariam Zaidi (2016-2024), and Canadian Programmer, Features & Shorts Yiqian Zhang (2023-2024).

Reps for the festival have not yet returned request for comment.

The departures come following recent comments to CBC from Hot Docs President Marie Nelson, suggesting that the org continues to be hampered following shutdowns of the in-person fest and the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema at the height of Covid. “We are now turning back to [the] government to say, yes it was great to provide some support during the pandemic, but let’s not think that the pandemic is over for us,” Nelson said on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning. Past government funding partners for Hot Docs have included the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council.

The largest documentary festival in North America, Hot Docs set Hussain Currimbhoy as its new artistic director, also responsible for overseeing the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, as well as educational initiative Docs for Schools, in November. This year’s festival is taking place in Toronto from April 25 – May 5.

News of the Hot Docs programmer exits was first reported by Screen Daily.

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