Hot Docs laying off staff amid financial woes, temporarily shutting its Ted Rogers Cinema

Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Image credit: Face book page of Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema

Toronto/CMEDIA: Amid reportedly financial difficulties, Hot Docs is closing its flagship Toronto theatre for about three months and laying off staff, Hot Docs Film Festival, Canada’s largest film festival, has said.

 Starting June 12, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema will temporarily be shut.

A statement from the festival says that following slow pandemic recovery, resulting in temporary layoffs would allow the organization to find a path back to profitability. 

They will use the closure to “regroup and engage in critical strategic planning to address our deficit,” organizers wrote in a message to patrons announcing the news.

When asked about how many jobs are impacted by the closure a spokesperson didn’t immediately answer.

“The Festival’s success caps a year of steady post-pandemic rebuilding, with all key metrics for Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema — attendance, box office, membership sales and concessions — far outperforming 2023,” the release continued.

“Hot Docs is on the right track, but our financial situation remains serious despite these successes.”

Anyone who purchased a ticket for a screening or event taking place after June 12, says Hot Docs will get an automatic refund, and notify patrons if certain events are rescheduled or moved to another venue.

 Hot Docs 31st annual festival which wrapped in early May was “a great success” that boasted near pre-pandemic attendance and higher than expected box office revenue, but it is not very optimistic about the events ahead the festival.

Festival organizers, particularly new president Marie Nelson in a series of emails and news articles warned that the festival was in jeopardy, and appealed for support. 

Following the Canadian government’s support of $120 million to various arts organizations, leaving out the documentary festival the public criticized the Canadian government’s  decision of “choosing winners and losers in Canada’s cultural landscape.” 

A statement issued by Hot Docs on Thursday (April 18) says the federal government’s decision to not include the festival within its $38 million relief package for significant cultural institutions is “putting the future of an important theatre and cultural hub at risk, despite ongoing calls for support from our community.”

But for Hot Docs, besides the worrying monetary issues, two high-profile board members resigned just days before the festival began that brought down its total number of board members from 24 last year to 13.  

Just prior to that, 10 employees blamed an “unprofessional and discriminatory environment” for their mass resignation following the quick departure of artistic director Hussain Currimbhoy, who stepped down in March.