Tomorrow, the 15th iteration of the Canadian International Documentary Festival, aka, Hot Docs, will begin. The week’s activities encompass the festival, Doc Soup and Youth Programmes, as well as the Toronto Documentary Forum, The Doc Shop, Conference and Market–lots going on. I will be up there the latter part of the week, but wanted to share some of the wonderful programs being hosted by DocAgora Ontario that will be presented there. The organization aims to increase awareness of new media and its particular impact on the documentary industry.

Open to all delegates at the Rogers Industry Centre, DocAgora Ontario will present a few panels with some stellar international representatives. First up is “Who is Who in Digital Docland” moderated by Neil Sieling, Center for Social Media/American University and, the ubiquitous Peter Wintonick of Necessary Illusions. Guests Paula LeDieu of Magic Lantern (UK), Joel Ronez of ARTE web (France), Andreas Ua’Siaghail of Resolvelabs (Canada) and Lance Weiler of From Here to Awesome (USA) will discuss the changing face of the industry and who is at the forefront in developing the ideas and tools for the next shift in control and form and who is taking advantage of what we have at our disposal today in terms of production, in ways we haven’t yet fully realized.

Later that same day (Thursday, April 24), four teams of media makers will present their projects to a special panel of international and Canadian interactive experts, participants and mentors who will analyze each presentation in what they’re calling a “Convergence Lab Critique,” part of the larger DocAgora Ontario Initiative. (I saw a similar presentation in Amsterdam during the IDFA at the Mediamatic Lab, of which I’m now a member.) The panelists are Gerry Flahive of NFB (Canada), Klara Gruning-Harris of ITVS (USA), Paula LeDieu of Magic Lantern, Andra Shaffer of the Bell Fund for new media and broadcast (Canada), Joel Ronez of ARTE web, Ingrid Van Tol of the Dutch Cultural Broadcast Fund for new media and documentaries (Netherlands), and Lance Weiler.

Lastly, there will be “Short Circuits: Trends in Docs in the Digital Docspace” on Friday the 25th, moderated by Shooting People’s Ingrid Kopp. Guests Jeremy Boxer of Cinelan.com (UK), Klara Gruning-Harris, Noam Muscovich of Ithentic.com (Canada) and Mark Cranwell of Babelgum.com (UK) will discuss digital doc shorts as the hot new media. Shorts and micro-doc series are being aggressively bought for mobile distribution and can be seen in various incarnations all over the web. The panel will provide an overview of shorts in the digital realm and discuss the ways in which flexible delivery modes of short docs affect viewers, faster concept-to-delivery timelines, and the cost/benefit ratios of short-form productions. Makers of shorts, rejoice!–to market, to market where there’s a home (several, actually) for your wares.

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