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Citizen Minutes Fund: Short doc collection

Commissioned by Hot Docs, Citizen Minutes is a short doc collection that highlights ordinary Canadians doing extraordinary things to better their communities.
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Currently open with a deadline of May 24, 2024.

The Opportunity

Hot Docs is seeking emerging and early career filmmakers to direct the third installment of Citizen Minutes. This is an opportunity for emerging directors to have a fulsome experience with film production, exhibition, distribution, and impact.

We will be commissioning 5–7 films, less than 8 minutes in length, that explore themes such as resilience, democracy, empathy, empowerment, and fairness, as the subjects work to improve their community’s social and cultural wellbeing. These stories should celebrate and inspire civic engagement—especially among young people.

Detailed below, the opportunity consists of:

  • Funding and creative support for films;
  • Training in an in-person and online documentary film intensive lab;
  • Short film premiere at Hot Docs Festival 2025;
  • Educational package and circulation in schools;
  • Participation and training in an impact and engagement campaign.

The successful applicants will direct their short films with the support of a seasoned creative and business producer (or producers) selected by Hot Docs.

This cohort of successful applicants will participate in an in-person filmmaker lab in the early summer 2024. A new addition to the Citizen Minutes program, the lab is designed to support career growth through a diverse curriculum and invaluable network-building opportunities.

The third installment of Citizen Minutes films will premiere at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in 2025, at a special promotional event. Filmmakers will receive an All-IN industry all-access pass to the Festival. The films will later be distributed and exhibited across Canada, with select shorts also submitted to other festivals.

Hot Docs will work with the filmmakers and seasoned impact producers to activate an impact and engagement strategy around the films, with the goal of using the films as tools for positive change in educational, community, and professional settings. The full series will also become a core part of Docs for Schools, Hot Docs’ educational program providing documentary content to support curricula for students (grades 5-12) across Canada. As such, we are particularly interested in stories that centre youth-led civic engagement.

Hot Docs is the commissioner of the films and will have the exclusive rights to the films for a set period. When that term is complete, Hot Docs will maintain a non-exclusive rights share with the creators.



Applicants must:

  • Be the (co)director(s) attached to the film project;
  • Be Canadian citizens or permanent residents;
  • Have at least one prior filmmaking credit (short films accepted).

There is a maximum of two projects per applicant.

The following are not eligible:

  • Projects produced as course work for any school or institute;
  • Projects that are part of an existing series;
  • Fiction films;
  • Completed films (we will consider projects with some development or production work already completed, provided all rights are available and can be assigned to Hot Docs).

Film projects must be completed by the end of December 2024.

Preparing Your Application

As part of your application, you will be asked to consider the following:

  • How does your story demonstrate civic engagement?
  • Who are the intended audiences? Keep in mind the films will also be used for outreach to Canadian students.
  • Do you have an established relationship with, and access to, the person or people featured in the story? What makes you the right filmmaker or filmmaking team to tell this story?
  • The estimated project budget.
  • The feasibility of the project within the allotted time frame.

Please review our evaluation criteria for further information or refer to the FAQs section.

Application Requirements

The online application must be submitted in English or French before the deadline. The program welcomes francophone applicants; however, please note that all program sessions will be conducted in English. There is no application fee. All materials received by Hot Docs are confidential. Please read the eligibility rules and guidelines before proceeding to the online application form.

Application Support

The Citizens Minutes application is considerate of technological, social, and accessibility barriers to the application process.

While the application questions are in English, the applicant may complete it in either English or French. The application process will be considerate of the applicant’s ability to communicate their submission; accommodations that can be made may include a video component.

Potential applicants who require assistance are encouraged to request accommodation at least two weeks before the deadline date by contacting or by leaving a voicemail at 416.203.2155 ext. 249.

Selection Process

Applicants will be informed of the Selection Committee’s decision in July 2024. Applications deemed complete and eligible will be submitted to a Selection Committee made up of and determined by representatives from Hot Docs and the creative producer(s).

Learn more about this Opportunity


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