By Ray Pride


At Hot Docs’ recent AGM, the organization said farewell to long-serving Board directors and former co-chairs Louise Lore and Norm Bolen, as well as filmmakers Yanick Létourneau (Peripheria Productions, Montreal) and Danijel Margetic (Balkan Films, Toronto). Hot Docs would like to thank these Board members for their passionate guidance, tremendous support and invaluable contributions to the organization’s dynamic growth and stability.

Since stepping in as Hot Docs’ executive director and its first full-time employee 15 (!) years ago this month, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with five outstanding Board co-chairs. At our AGM last week, Louise Lore and Norm Bolen stepped down from our board after more than 25 years of combined volunteer service. Having them mentor, champion and challenge me and our team has been one of the highlights of my career, and one of the reasons our festival continues to succeed. Louise and Norm set the tone and instilled a sense of professionalism in those early years, and they consistently made the staff feel that they were working for us rather than the reverse. They made us look good and work smarter, and helped us attract other high-performing board and staff who’ve worked together to make this Festival great. On behalf of our Board of Directors, staff and, of course me personally, I offer many, many thanks to you both.

– Chris McDonald, Executive Director

Hot Docs is pleased to welcome Barry Avrich (Melbar Entertainment Group, Toronto), Charlotte Engel (Rock Yenta Productions, Toronto), and Katarina Soukup (Catbird Productions, Montreal) to the organization’s Board of Directors. We look forward to working with them on our upcoming 20th anniversary edition, and for many festivals more.

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“Roger Ebert claimed that the re-editing of The Brown Bunny after Cannes allowed him a difference of opinion so vast that he first called it the worst film in history and eventually gave it a thumbs up. This is both far fetched and an outright lie. The truth is, unlike the many claims that the unfinished film that showed at Cannes was 24 minutes shorter than the finished film, it was only 8 minutes shorter. The running time I filled out on the Cannes submission form was arbitrary. The running time I chose was just a number I liked. I had no idea where in the process I would actually be when I needed to stop cutting to meet the screening deadline. So whatever running time was printed in the program, I promise you, was not the actual running time. And the cuts I made to finish the film after Cannes were not many. I shortened the opening race scene once I was able to do so digitally. After rewatching the last 4 minutes of the film over and over again, somewhere within those 4 minutes, I froze the picture and just ended the film there, cutting out everything after that point, which was about 3 minutes. Originally in the salt flats scene, the motorcycle returned from the white. I removed the return portion of that shot, which seemed too literal. And I cut a scene of me putting on a sweater. That’s pretty much it. Plus the usual frame here, frame there, final tweaks. If you didn’t like the unfinished film at Cannes, you didn’t like the finished film, and vice versa. Roger Ebert made up his story and his premise because after calling my film literally the worst film ever made, he eventually realized it was not in his best interest to be stuck with that mantra. Stuck with a brutal, dismissive review of a film that other, more serious critics eventually felt differently about. He also took attention away from what he actually did at the press screening. It is outrageous that a single critic disrupted a press screening for a film chosen in main competition at such a high profile festival and even more outrageous that Ebert was ever allowed into another screening at Cannes. His ranting, moaning and eventual loud singing happened within the first 20 minutes, completely disrupting and manipulating the press screening of my film. Afterwards, at the first public screening, booing, laughing and hissing started during the open credits, even before the first scene of the film. The public, who had heard and read rumors about the Ebert incident and about me personally, heckled from frame one and never stopped. To make things weirder, I got a record-setting standing ovation from the supporters of the film who were trying to show up the distractors who had been disrupting the film. It was not the cut nor the film itself that drew blood. It was something suspicious about me. Something offensive to certain ideologues.”
~ Vincent Gallo

“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster