Indie directors in Africa got a major boost Wednesday with a C$1 million fund ($1.04 million) fund dedicated to increasing the quality and quantity of documentaries announced at the opening of the Forum, Hot Doc’s two-day pitching event.
The fund was established by Toronto-based Blue Ice Film and will be administered by Hot Docs, with six to 10 disbursements (ranging from $10,452 to $41,816) made each year for five years.
“There are countless documentaries made about Africa , but not enough are made by Africans,” said Blue Ice’s Neil Tabatznik, who founded the company in 2005 with director-producer Steve Silver (“The Bang Bang Club”).
The initiative will also offer successful applicants resources and industry connections, including a mentorship program to help African producers bring projects to international marts, fests and broadcasters.
Hot Docs administers the Shaw Media-Hot Docs Fund, which has given out more than $1.5 million in completions grants and no-interest loans to 54 Canuck productions over the past three years. The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Films Documentary Fund is the first international fund run by the fest.
“The marketplace has changed and traditional funding sources for docs have become increasingly scarce,” commented the fest’s executive director Chris McDonald, adding he hopes this new initiative is just the latest addition to an expanding portfolio of production funds.
Fund guidelines will be available in September and the first application deadline is in the fall. The five-member selection committee will consist of Hot Docs and Blue Ice reps and other industry pros. Hot Docs closes Sunday.