Hot Docs Programmers Exit Festival En Masse

Sharing the same prepared statement on social media, 10 of the programmers have announced their departure ahead of the 2024 edition

Photo courtesy of Hot Docs

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Mar 25, 2024

Sharing the same prepared statement on social media, 10 Hot Docs programmers have announced their exit from the film festival, Screen Daily reports.

UPDATE (3/26, 8:58 a.m. ET): According to a statement from the organization, Artistic Director Hussain Currimbhoy stepped down last week, and some members of the programming team followed suit. Hot Docs wrote to Exclaim! via email:

Hot Docs has announced that Hussain Currimbhoy stepped down from his role as Artistic Director on March 20th due to personal reasons. Hussain was fundamental in programming this year's festival.

Festival Director Heather Haynes will lead the programming department in preparations for this year's festival, April 25–May 5.

Regrettably, some members of the programming team have decided not to participate in this year's festival. We thank them for their contributions.

We look forward to celebrating this year's films with our audiences and bringing them together with filmmakers to share their important stories.

Samah Ali (International Programmer, Features, 2020–2024), Vivian Belik (International Programmer, Mid-Lengths, 2020–2024), Jesse Cumming (International Programmer, Markers, 2021–2024), Angie Driscoll (Senior International Programmer, Features & Shorts, 2003–2024), Margaret Pereira (International Programmer, Mid-Lengths, 2023–2024), Gabor Pertic (International Programmer, Features, 2010–2024), Kaitlynn Tomaselli (International Programmer, Features, 2023–2023), Myrocia Watamaniuk (Senior International Programmer, 2001–2024), Mariam Zaidi (International Programmer, Shorts & Canadian Programmer, Features & Shorts, 2016–2024) and Yiqian Zhang (Canadian Programmer, Features & Shorts, 2023–2024) have all exited the organization behind the largest documentary festival in North America, which is scheduled to begin its 2024 edition on April 25.

"I have made the heartbreaking choice to exit the 2024 Hot Docs Festival," each programmer 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."

As reported earlier this month, Hot Docs is apparently facing "significant operational challenges" ahead of this year's fest, with The Globe and Mail citing how pandemic-related impacts have affected both Hot Docs membership revenue and ticket sales at the nonprofit's Ted Rogers Cinema.

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