ffow-hot-docs.jpgWhile documentaries have enjoyed some commercial success over the last few years, Jerry Seinfeld’s dismissive Oscar monologue showed that the genre continues to be underappreciated in certain sectors of the film world. Luckily, for documentary-makers and fans alike, festivals like Toronto’s Hot Docs more than make up for this lack of love, creating a space where documentary film is the sole focus, to be appreciated in all its myriad forms.

Hot Docs, which is the largest documentary film festival in North America, is now in its 14th year and has grown from an event geared primarily toward Canadian moviemakers to a large-scale celebration of nonfiction moviemaking on an international scale. “We’ve created a filmmaker-friendly event that strikes a nice balance between being a large cultural festival with a huge public following and a significant market and conference,” says executive director Chris McDonald.

In addition to screenings, parties and awards ceremonies, Hot Docs devotes a significant portion of the festival program to helping participating moviemakers find distribution. The Documentary Forum was created to help independent doc producers find international financing, while the Doc Shop provides distributors with an on-demand videothèque facility that allows them to preview more than 1,500 documentary works for possible acquisition.

Though the mainstream movie world may not pay as much attention to documentaries as they should, festivals like Hot Docs ensure that the genre can still find its niche in the moviemaking community.

The 2007 Hot Docs festival will run from April 19-29. For more information, visit www.hotdocs.ca.

Sound Off: How do you think we can expose mainstream audiences to more documentary moviemaking? If you are a documentarian, what have been your most successful methods for getting your work seen? Let us know in the comments section!

–Jennifer Straus