×

DocXchange Looks to Boost Doc Biz With Exhibitors Collective

TORONTO – When it comes to the subject of documentary features in brick-and-mortar theaters, the recent run of strong box-office performances is the headline-grabber.

But Hot Docs hopes we’ll see more stories in the near future about other cities launching venues similar to its Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, located on Toronto’s bustling Bloor Street corridor, where audiences gather to watch, discuss, and celebrate first-run documentary features year-round.

To encourage venue operators or doc organizations – and, hopefully, their philanthropic supporters – to take the plunge, Hot Docs has banded with the Maysles Documentary Center (New York), Bertha DocHouse (London), and La Compagna (Florence) to create the Documentary Exhibitors Collective, which they’re dubbing DocXchange.

Spearheaded by Hot Docs’ president Chris McDonald, Bertha’s Elizabeth Wood, and Campagna’s Camilla Toschi, the collective’s mission is to raise the profile of docs by offering “support and collaboration for documentary enthusiasts to create venues – from converted shopfronts to 500-seat deco cinemas – to inspire filmmakers and the public to ‘turn doc’!” said the group.

“We want there to be more venues than ours in the world,” McDonald told Variety at the start of the 2019 Hot Docs festival, which wraps May 5.

“We are sharing best practices, tips on what programs are doing well, films that have performed and under-performed,” he said. “And as the big sister in the foursome, we are opening up our books and our business plans for others to see how we’ve done it.”

The larger goal of this, McDonald continued, is about helping filmmakers. “Our mandate is to showcase this art form and to help filmmakers to get them made and distributed and seen.”

Hot Docs’ own learning curve over the course of running and expanding the festival for over 25 years and, in particular, since launching its own cinema in March 2012, has shown the organization that being competitive isn’t always the best or only choice for finding success. “Over time we realized that the opposite is true. Every time we sit down with another group we are all learning practical things that help us all.

“With a festival, where you get bigger every year, you learn to live within your means, and anticipate and plan for various outcomes,” McDonald said. “In our second year of running the cinema, our box office was down significantly, and it dawned on us—we’re in a marketplace, we don’t control content the same way we do when planning the festivals.”

What the cinema’s programmers learned is that special or enhanced programming helps boost the box office when it’s a slow year for theatrical. In addition to its long-running Doc Soup series, Hot Docs has also created programming such as its Curious Minds series.

McDonald said he and his DocXchange collaborators plan to actively chat up the organization and the benefits of membership on the festival circuit in the months ahead: “We want to take the mystery out of running a dedicated documentary cinema.”

CREDIT: Gabriel Li/Hot Docs

 

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • So Long, My Son directed by

    Wang Xiaoshuai's 'So Long, My Son' Earns Six APSA Nominations

    Chinese drama, “So Long, My Son,” was nominated in six categories for this year’s Asia Pacific Screen Awards. The unprecedented haul makes it a clear favorite. The Wang Xiaoshuai-directed drama about separation, secrets, a lifetime of regret, and the consequences of China’s one child policy, had its premiere in February at the Berlin festival. There [...]

  • Alan Rickman

    Film News Roundup: 'Galaxy Quest' Documentary Set for Release

    In today’s film news roundup, rescue drama “Not Without Hope” is back in development, a “Galaxy Quest” documentary is set for release, “The Two Popes” wins another award, and Ella Joyce gets cast. PROJECT REVIVED U.K.-based financing-production outfit Goldfinch has bought feature film rights to Nick Schuyler’s “Not Without Hope” and signed “The Fog” director [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds John Krasinkski

    Ryan Reynolds, John Krasinski in Talks for 'Imaginary Friends' Movie

    Ryan Reynolds and John Krasinski are in talks to board the fantasy comedy “Imaginary Friends” at Paramount Studios. Paramount recently won the bidding for the property over Lionsgate and Sony. Krasinski will write, direct,  produce and star while Reynolds will co-star if the deals go through. The story centers on a man who can see [...]

  • Willem Dafoe attends the "Motherless Brooklyn"

    Willem Dafoe Joins Guillermo Del Toro's 'Nightmare Alley'

    Willem Dafoe has closed a deal to join Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of “Nightmare Alley.” Collider had first reported that Dafoe was being considered for a role in the film, but sources now say the “Lighthouse” star has closed a deal to join the cast. The “At [...]

  • 'To the Ends of the Earth'

    Busan Film Review: 'To the Ends of the Earth'

    “To the Ends of the Earth,” the story of a young Japanese journalist’s experiences in Uzbekistan filming a report for a Japanese TV travel show, was originally commissioned to celebrate 25 years of cordial diplomatic relations between director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s hyper-developed island homeland and the less affluent, landlocked Central Asian nation. As such we might [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content