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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

“I Work For Documentary”: Sean Farnel Leaves Hot Docs After 6 Years

Sean Farnel, John Grierson

Since its inception, Hot Docs has become the second largest documentary festival in the world, after IDFA in Amsterdam. (I consider it a privilege I’ve attended the past four instalments.) While now-former programming director Sean Farnel doesn’t offer a roadmap to what comes next, his blog entry about leaving Hot Docs offers much about what’s come before: “I’ve watched over 4000 documentaries over the past twelve years. I still have notes on most of them. That’s a lot of reality. Another reality is that there comes a time to change course.” I like what Cameron Bailey tweeted tonight: “Sean Farnel worked 6 years at TIFF, 6 years at Hot Docs. One of the best in the business: taste, grit & humility. A Canadian.” [More at the link.]

[Photo: Sheffield Doc/Fest, November 2008; cradling Margaret Brown’s Youth Jury Grierson award for The Order Of Myths. © Ray Pride]

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“I never, ever, ever read anything about myself. Not my interviews, not stories about me. I never, ever read any criticism of my films. I scrupulously have avoided any self-preoccupation. When I first started, that was not the case. I just pay attention to the work and don’t read about how great I am or what a fool I am. The enjoyment has got to come from doing the project. It’s fun to get up in the morning and have your script in front of you and to meet with your scenic designer and your cinematographer, to get out on the set and work with these charming men and beautiful women and put in this Cole Porter music and great costumes. When that’s over, and you’ve made your best movie, move on. I never look at the movie again — I never read anything about it again.”
~ Woody Allen

I do think the polemic of diversity right now is being handled with a lead pipe. It’s talked about in a way that’s not complex— and it’s a very complex issue. It’s not black and white. It’s not a conspiracy to keep women down. It’s a psychology of risk aversion. Women are question marks to the studios The indie world is changing, television is changing, but if you talk about mainstream Hollywood, they’re still looking at a question mark. [So] it’s not some kind of war. It’s people trying to figure out, imperfectly, how to change a culture that has been one way for a really long time. In terms of this movie, though, Sony was on our ass about diversity from day one. They were like, ‘Look: We want you to make your own movie. We just also want to tell you that there are other options, ones that we’re really open to, and here’s all the people we love.’ And those lists, they were the most diverse lists I’ve ever seen.
~ Jodie Foster

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