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President Marie Nelson steps down after 12 chaotic months for Canada’s Hot Docs

Marie Nelson is leaving her role as president of Canadian documentary organisation Hot Docs after one year in the role.

Marie Nelson

The veteran executive, who was formerly the senior VP of Disney-owned ABC News, joined the Toronto-based organisation in July 2023, succeeding Chris McDonald.

Her short tenure has been marked by uncertainty and internal conflict, including the resignation of 10 festival programmers on the eve of this year’s event.

The month before, Hot Docs issued a public statement noting that its future was in doubt as it faced a “significant operational deficit” caused by, among other things, the long-tail impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

When it did not receive government funding in the federal budget in April, Hot Docs and Nelson publicly blasted the government for having “picked winners and losers in Canada’s cultural landscape.”

With Nelson’s departure, Hot Docs will be led by interim executive director Janice Dawe and managing director Heidi Tao Yang.

“We at Hot Docs would like to express our appreciation for her invaluable contributions to the organisation, and her unwavering commitment to advancing our mission,” said the board of directors, adding that it has “full confidence” in Dawe and Yang to “capably steer the organisation through this period.”

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