April 17th, 2024

Ten programmers quit ‘toxic’ Hot Docs workplace as festival announces lineup

By The Canadian Press on March 26, 2024.

TORONTO – Ten programmers say they quit the Hot Docs film festival en masse as a result of what they describe as a toxic workplace.

In a joint statement released the day the documentary fest announced its 2024 lineup, they say the organization failed to respect protocol and dismissed or diminished team members’ voices.

They say they were “expected to work in an ever-changing, chaotic, unprofessional and discriminatory environment.”

The programmers say they brought their concerns to human resources, senior management, the president and the board before leaving.

At a press conference to announce the festival’s lineup, Hot Docs’ president says she prioritized change rather than taking care of her people, which she says was a mistake.

Nelson says she would like the programmers to return – if not next week, then for next year’s festival.

This year’s edition is set to run April 25 to May 5 and open with the Luther Vandross portrait, “Luther: Never Too Much,” from director Dawn Porter.

Earlier in the month, Nelson announced Hot Docs was in dire financial straits, and said this year’s edition of the festival could be the last.

Hot Docs also announced that its artistic director had left the organization.

The departed programmers say they “fully support” the films in this year’s lineup.

Also announced Tuesday, the Canadian Spectrum Competition will feature the world premieres of “A French Youth,” about two young North African bull racers in the south of France; and “Curl Power,” which follows five high school friends seeking to become Canadian National Curling Champions.

The International Competition will include “The Weavers’ Songs,” about the importance of weaving in San Pedro Amuzgos, Oaxaca; and “Standing Above the Clouds,” which tells the story of three Native Hawaiian families defending Mauna Kea, their sacred mountain.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2024.

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