For the second year in a row the Toronto-based Hot Docs Podcast Festival has had to pivot to an all-virtual format, but that hasn’t slowed the annual celebration of all-things audio. The sixth annual edition runs from January 25 to 28 and offers up a jam-packed schedule of live presentations, panels and creator and storytelling spotlights.
Opening night kicks off with a showcase of CBC podcasts, including Secret Life of Canada, Pop Chat, and White Hot Hate. The latter follows a journalist embedded in a white supremacist hate group and was recently named one of The Atlantic‘s Top Podcasts of 2021. The event will also feature journalist Anna Maria Tremonti sharing stories from her brand new series, Welcome to Paradise—a series set to unpack the abuse and resulting decades of trauma recovery from a marriage in her youth.
Day Two gives attendees a chance to join Ira Glass in conversation with author Michael Lewis, best known for his books Moneyball, The Big Short and Liar’s Poker. Award-winning Anishinaabe journalist and writer Ryan McMahon will also be on hand to preview his new Crave original doc series based around his well-known Canadaland podcast, Thunder Bay.
The penultimate day of this year’s festival directs the spotlight onto two of the most popular culture podcasts around. Hosts Yowei Shaw and Kia Miakka Natisse from NPR’s Invisibilia come together with Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr. and Bethel Habte of Gimlet’s Resistance to discuss the hidden stories, the ones we often overlook. There’s also a chance to look back at more familiar stories with hit podcast Back Issue, a series that takes a look at classic moments in pop culture. In their first ever live episode, Tracy Clayton and Josh Gwynn chat with their special guest, Kelefa Sanneh of The New Yorker, about her new music history book Major Labels.
Hot Docs caters to podcast audiences as well current and future storytellers with their daytime Creators Forum sessions. Learn how to build a career in the medium and how to launch an investigative series, or get Indigenous podcasters’ perspectives on how to tell diverse and important stories. There’s even a session exploring how podcasting provides spaces for fandoms like BTS to thrive.
The whole shebang wraps up on the 28th as late night host, and proud Canadian, Samantha Bee records a live version of her podcast Full Release. The special guest is a surprise but given Bees roster of interviewees has included people like Stanley Tucci and Tig Notaro, you can assume they won’t disappoint.
And if you’re in a podcasting kind of mood, check out one or all of That Shelf’s network of movie podcasts.