The Hot Docs Film Festival – The Canadian International Documentary Festival

In the Spring of 2009, CLAIHR’s innovative spirit found new expression in its exciting new alliance with the Hot Docs Film Festival, North America’s largest documentary film festival which showcases films and filmmakers from over 35 countries around the world.

As a premiere festival sponsor, CLAIHR proudly presented Mugabe and the White African, the true story of white African farmer Michael Campbell’s desperate struggle to keep his farm in the face of brutal violence by Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. Boldly charging him with racial discrimination and human rights violations before an international court for his brutal land reclamation policies, Campbell and his family risk their lives in the pursuit of justice. The film was presented to a sold-out audience and was followed by a post-screening CLAIHR reception where guests and members had a opportunity to mingle with the producers and directors of the film.

In its capacity as a recognized leader of human rights in Canada, CLAIHR was also invited by Hot Docs to the Good Pitch Forum, an initiative providing filmmakers with the unique opportunity to pitch social issue documentary projects and their associated campaign strategies to NGOs, charities, foundations, campaigners, advertising agencies, brands and media. The directors and producers of various film proposals were invited by turn to take a seat at one end of an exquisite antique boardroom table in the historic Hart House and to share a synopsis of the film and show a brief trailer. Following each presentation, industry participants seated around the table made comments or suggestions about the film and offered channels of distribution or other forms of assistance including, in some cases, funding. Participants included notable groups such as Amnesty International, Witness, Rights and Democracy, Ford Foundation, American Civil Liberties Organization and the American Bar Association. Set up in the style of a great theatrical production, all around the Good Pitch table in rows of increasingly elevated seating were hundreds of interested observers. This was a novel and laudable approach to uniting filmmakers and organizations fighting for a common purpose.

CLAIHR has continued its exciting association with Hot Docs. In the Fall of 2009, Hot Docs invited CLAIHR to the World Press Photo Exhibit, which featured photos from the winners of the annual worldwide photojournalism contest. As part of the 2010 Hot Docs Film Festival, CLAIHR has once again been invited to participate in the Toronto Documentary Forum.