Friday, September 2, 2011

Call for submissions: 2012 Hot Docs Documentary Festival

The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival has put out its call for submissions for its 2012 edition.

Hot Docs is the largest documentary festival in North America and is an indispensable event for documentary lovers and filmmakers. Founded in 1993, they present an annual selection of  the latest documentaries from Canada and around the world. The festival continues to grow. The 2011 edition presented 199 films and had its attendance expand to over 150,000 people. In addition to the festival, they host a conference and market, and provide many essential networking opportunities for filmmakers.

The early-bird deadline is December 2, 2011. The final film submission deadline is January 13, 2012.

The 2012 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival will take place from April 26-May 6 in Toronto.


Submit a Film

Film submissions to the Hot Docs 2012 official program are now being accepted. The guidelines below are subject to change without notice. The next edition of Hot Docs takes place April 26 to May 6, in Toronto, Canada.
  • Early-Bird Film Submission Deadline: December 2, 2011
  • Final Film Submission Deadline: January 13, 2012
Please consult the submissions FAQ page for additional information. Please note that submission guidelines for Hot Docs 2012 are subject to change without notice.



Hot Docs accepts Canadian and international documentaries of all lengths and subject matter.
All Hot Docs screening programs are curated and all submissions will be fully considered by Hot Docs’ programming team.
For the purposes of eligibility and awards consideration, Hot Docs uses the following definitions:
Film Length
  • Feature Length: 60 min. or longer
  • Mid-Length: 30 to 59 min.
  • Short: under 30 min.
Country of Production/Submission Country
  • Canadian Submissions: All films produced in Canada [more info].
  • International Submissions: All films produced outside of Canada.
  • Country of Production: the country from which most of the financing for the film was received and the residence of the films key crew members i.e. the director(s) and producer(s).
Categories & Awards
Hot Docs features two juried competition programs, Canadian Spectrum and International Spectrum, and several non-competitive programs.
Selected feature-length, mid-length and short films in Spectrum programs are eligible for jury prizes.
All feature films selected for Hot Docs, with the exception of those screening in retrospective programs, are eligible for the Sundance Channel People’s Choice Award.
Applicants will be notified by email by end of March 2012 if their work has been selected.
Final programming, categorization and slotting of films will be determined by the Festival programming team. Their decision is final. Successful applicants will receive this information in their official invitation.
If selected, the entrant grants Hot Docs the right to utilize publicity materials related to the production (e.g. press kits, posters, stills, etc.) for promotional purposes, to broadcast or screen clips of a maximum of five minutes, and to make dubs of their film for publicity and jury purposes.
No screeners or application materials will be returned. Do not send film prints, master tapes or other originals.


All submissions:
  • must have been completed after January 1, 2011;
  • cannot have been screened publicly prior to January 1, 2011;
  • must be Toronto premieres (i.e. must not have been screened or broadcast in Toronto before the Festival);
  • must be in English, subtitled in English or English versioned (non-English language films may be submitted with an English transcript; however, if selected for Hot Docs, it must be subtitled or dubbed into English at the applicant’s expense);
  • must be exhibited in one of the following screening formats, if selected: 35mm film, DigiBeta (NTSC or PAL) and HDCAM [more info]. Full technical specifications will be provided to selected films.
Please note:
  • an English version of a French-language film will be considered eligible if the English version has not been broadcast or screened in Toronto;
  • a feature-length version of a “broadcast hour” length film will be considered eligible if the feature-length version has not been broadcast or screened in Toronto. Please note, however, the film being broadcast will be a mitigating factor on the final decision to include it in the official selection;
  • Hot Docs does not exhibit works-in-progress.
Ineligible Submissions
Hot Docs does not accept resubmissions or rough cuts from previous years. If you have any specific questions please contact us.


All fees outlined below include:
  • submission to the 2012 Festival for programming consideration;
  • submission to The Doc Shop on-site Festival market;
  • a 12-month presence on The Doc Shop Online, Hot Docs’ year-round market service for buyers, distributors and festival programmers.
Short Films:
  • $33.90 CDN per submission ($30 + $3.90 HST)
Mid- and Feature-Length Films:
  • before December 2, 2011: $67.80 CDN per submission ($60 + $7.80 HST)
  • before January 13, 2012: $118.65 CDN per submission ($105 + $13.65 HST)
In addition, the Festival submission and market fees covers administrative expenses related to cataloguing, previewing and digitizing each work. Although inclusion in both markets is covered in fees outlined above, you must also opt-in to both of these markets during the submission process.
Submission fees are non-refundable.


To submit your film for consideration, you must complete and submit Hot Docs’ online submission form.
  • Each film must be submitted as either a Canadian or an international submission. [more info]
  • Rough/Fine Cuts: The Festival will only accept one cut of each film for programming consideration. If needed, Hot Docs will request an updated version and will contact those applicants directly. [more info]
  • If interested in The Doc Shop on-site market and The Doc Shop Online, please mark the appropriate boxes noted in the Terms and Conditions section of the entry form.
  • It is mandatory that you submit two DVDs clearly labeled with the film title for preview screening purposes. All formats and regions are accepted. We do not require a printed version of the online form. Please note the entry form must be submitted to Hot Docs on or before the deadlines outlined above. Submission packages postmarked by the deadline date will be accepted.
All applicants must provide their Visa, American Express (AMEX) or MasterCard information on the entry form.
All submissions must be sent prepaid. The Festival will not accept collect or C.O.D. shipments.
Hot Docs will not assume responsibility for, nor will it accept shipments incurring expenses for terminal charges, duties, taxes or customs brokerage.
Please note: Hot Docs does not accept international shipments via United Parcel Services (UPS) since this courier does not deliver international duty-free shipments to Toronto.

General Information

Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
110 Spadina Avenue, Suite 333
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M5V 2K4
Tel: (1) 416-203-2155
Fax: (1) 416-203-0446
Submission guidelines for Hot Docs 2012 are subject to change. Hot Docs reserves the right to rule on all issues not expressly covered in these guidelines.

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