The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival is North America's largest documentary film festival, conference and market, held annually in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The 2015 edition of the festival had a record attendance of approximately 200,500.
At the initiative of Wyndham Wise, then executive director of the Canadian Independent Film Caucus, now the Documentary Organization of Canada, a national association of independent documentary filmmakers, Hot Docs was launched in 1993 by a team led by Debbie Nightingale. Although not directly related to its precursor, the Grierson Seminar, Hot Docs filled the void it left. For the first five years, Hot Docs served as a promotional vehicle for Caucus filmmakers; however, in 1998, Chris McDonald, formerly of the Canadian Film Centre, was hired as its first full-time employee and the festival was put on a more professional footing. The founding chair of Hot Docs was filmmaker Paul Jay.
Much of the festival's success can be credited to the logistical support rendered by scores of volunteers every year. Each year, the festival screens more than 170 documentaries from all around the world. Along with the Canadian and international competitive programs, the festival features The Doc Shop, an international documentary market, and the Hot Docs Forum (formerly the Toronto Documentary Forum), a limited-seat event which was launched in the year 2000. Since then, the Forum has established itself as North America's essential international documentary market event. The festival has been instrumental as the documentary industry's meeting place with more than 2,000 delegates attending. These delegates include commissioning editors, programmers, filmmakers, buyers and distributors from all over the world. Hot Docs also operates The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto.