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Hot Docs Artistic Director Hussain Currimbhoy, Programmers Step Down Ahead of 2024 Edition

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Artistic director Hussain Currimbhoy and several programmers have stepped down ahead of this year’s edition of Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival.

Festival director Heather Haynes will now lead the programming department.

A statement from the Toronto-based event said: “Hot Docs has announced that Hussain Currimbhoy stepped down from his role as Artistic Director on March 20th due to personal reasons. Hussain was fundamental in programming this year’s Festival. Festival Director Heather Haynes will lead the programming department in preparations for this year’s Festival, April 25-May 5. Regrettably, some members of the programming team have decided not to participate in this year’s Festival. We thank them for their contributions. We look forward to celebrating this year’s films with our audiences and bringing them together with filmmakers to share their important stories.”

In a statement posted on Facebook, senior international programmer Myrocia Watamaniuk wrote: “I have made the heartbreaking choice to exit the 2024 Hot Docs Festival. I do so with 9 of my fellow colleagues, listed below. I will continue to fight for films and filmmakers – they are the bedrock of all film festivals, and the reason I do this job.”

The colleagues Watamaniuk named are Samah Ali, Vivian Belik, Jesse Cumming, Angie Driscoll, Margaret Pereira, Gabor Pertic, Kaitlynn Tomaselli, Mariam Zaidi and Yiqian Zhang.

While no reason was provided for the exits, Marie Nelson recently told CBC that this year’s festival could be the last without more support from government funding partners, and that the organization is still recovering from pandemic era losses, including the two-year shutdown of the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.

Currimbhoy, who has had stints at Sundance Film Festival, Sheffield DocFest, Melbourne Film Festival, Nordisk Panorama Film Festival, Doc 10 and the Red Sea Film Festival, had taken up his position in November 2023. Variety has reached out to Currimbhoy for comment