Two long-time, fabled festival directors have moved on in the last two months. After many tireless years at the helm, Hot Docs Executive Director Brett Hendrie and Full Frame’s Director Deidre Haj are both leaving their respective leadership roles, having accomplished groundbreaking work. Their impact will remain, but their absences will be felt as documentary festivals try to find a way forward after a year that has turned movie-watching in general, and festivals in particular, on their heads.
Hendrie has been part of Hot Docs for 20 years, spending the last 8 as Executive Director. In that time, he has grown the festival’s audience and the value of its awards and prizes. He has also expanded the festival’s “Docs For Schools” education program, and launched the Netflix-supported Canadian Storytellers Project, which supported filmmakers from underrepresented communities. He has also helped the festival respond to changing conditions in the industry, forging partnerships with digital and cable entities such as iTunes and Encore Plus. Hendrie will be leaving Canada’s Hot Docs for a new role at the University of Toronto.
Like Hendrie, Haj left her mark on Frameline over the course of her tenure, creating a number of public education programs, such as the Speakeasy conversation series, School of Doc filmmaking courses for teens and Teach the Teachers documentary literacy program. Haj helped grow the Festival, establishing a permanent home in downtown Durham, and raising the profile of the festival through it’s Academy Award® qualifying status.
Thank you to Brett Hendrie and Deirdre Haj for your contribution to documentary film. You will be missed!