Monday, September 21, 2015

Call for submissions: 2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival

Submissions for Hot Docs 2016 are now open.

Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival is North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market. Each year, the Festival presents a selection of approximately 200 cutting-edge documentaries from Canada and around the globe.

The 2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival will take place from April 28–May 8.

Please read the guidelines below before submitting your film.

Nov. 18Dec. 9Jan. 6
SHORT (1-29 MIN)$25$35$50
FEATURE (30+ MIN)$50$100$150

Please note that HST taxes (13%) are not included in the above fees. All deadlines are postmark deadlines.


All submissions:
  • must have been completed after January 1, 2015
  • must be at minimum Toronto premieres (i.e. cannot have been screened publicly in Toronto prior to the 2016 Festival, including broadcast versions of any length)
  • must not be available online in any form (this includes DVDs for purchase in any region)
  • 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)
  • may not have submitted to the Festival previously in any stage of completion (i.e. films that were submitted as rough cuts will not be reconsidered)
Questions? Check out our FAQs or contact us.


All fees outlined above include:
  • submission to the 2016 Festival for programming consideration;
  • inclusion in The Festival Doc Shop;
  • a 12-month presence on The Doc Shop Online, Hot Docs’ year-round market service for buyers, distributors and festival programmers.
Please note: Although inclusion in both of The Doc Shop markets is covered in the fees outlined above, you must also opt-in to both of these markets during the submission process.

In addition, the Festival submission and market fee covers the administrative expenses related to cataloguing, previewing and digitizing each work.

Submission fees are non-refundable.


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 minutes or longer
  • Mid-Length: 30 to 59 minutes
  • Short: under 30 minutes
Country of Production and Submission Categories
Submissions to the Festival are divided into two categories:
  • Canadian Submissions: All films produced in Canada or directed by Canadian filmmakers
  • International Submissions: All films produced outside of Canada and directed by non-Canadians
Country of Production
The origin of the majority of the film’s financing and/or the film’s key crew members, which can also include the location of significant production support.

Rough Cuts/Fine Cuts
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.

Made in… Program
Each Festival, Hot Docs presents a program showcasing recent films from a selected country or region.


Applicants will be notified of programming decisions via email by the end of March 2016. 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.

No screeners or application materials will be returned. Do not send film prints, master tapes or other originals.


  • Hot Docs features two juried competition programs, Canadian Spectrum and International Spectrum, and several non-competitive programs.
  • Selected feature-length films in the Spectrum programs are eligible for jury prizes. All selected short and mid-length films (except those in retrospective categories) will be considered by the jury.
  • All feature films selected for Hot Docs, with the exception of those screening in retrospective programs, are eligible for the Audience Award.

Hot Docs is recognized as a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards® in the Documentary Short Subject category. The winner of the Best Short Documentary at this year’s Festival will qualify for consideration in the Documentary Short Subject category of the annual Academy Awards® without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules.

Hot Docs is also BAFTA-recognized festival, acknowledged to be one of the most trusted and respected arbiters of excellence in the art of short filmmaking. Shorts screened at Hot Docs fulfill an important eligibility criterion for entry to the BAFTA British Short Film and British Short Animation categories at the EE British Academy Film Awards.


For officially selected films, Hot Docs aims to provide as much support as possible to filmmakers attending the Festival:
  • For feature-length films, Hot Docs strives to bring at least one filmmaker to Toronto for each invited film, by providing hotel accommodation and a stipend for travel expenses, as well as an airport transfer, if required.
  • For all selected films, Hot Docs will provide Festival accreditation for every credited director as well as one producer.


Step 1: Online Submission Form & Payment
To submit your film for consideration, you must complete and submit Hot Docs’ online submission form.

If interested in The Festival Doc Shop and The Doc Shop Online, please mark the appropriate boxes noted in the Terms and Conditions section of the entry form.

At the end of the form, you will be asked to make a credit card payment. All major credit cards are accepted. If you get an error message, please call your bank as we have found that some banks block the transaction.

Step 2: Send Us Your Screeners or Vimeo Link
If you would like to submit your film via an online link you can either:
  • Put the link and password in the online submission form under the section titled “Screener Information.”
  • Email with the name of your film, link, and password once you have submitted the online form and payment.
Please note: The password to your film link must not change during our programming process. All links must be received by the deadline that the film is applying to.


You can submit two clearly labelled DVD copies of your film for preview screening purposes. All formats and regions are accepted. Please make sure to test out your DVD screeners in a commercial DVD player. We do not require a printed version of the online 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.

Shipping Address
Hot Docs Film Festival
110 Spadina Avenue, Suite 333
Toronto, ON
M5V 2K4


To submit a film, please complete the 2016 SUBMISSION FORM.

Submission guidelines for Hot Docs are subject to change. Hot Docs reserves the right to rule on all issues not expressly covered in these guidelines.

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