Following the postponement of the 2020 Hot Docs Festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a selection of exclusive first-run feature documentaries that would have debuted at the Festival will now premiere on CBC, the free CBC Gem streaming service and documentary Channel each Thursday, and has started April 16, with some of the films and schedule details below. CBC and Hot Docs will also partner to expand the at-home audience experience with interactive, livestreamed Q&As with filmmakers and other original digital content at CBC Docs. A complete list of 2020 Hot Docs Festival selections was announced by Hot Docs on April 14. 

 “As we all seek out new content to engage and inspire us and provide a sense of meaning and connection during these unprecedented times, we are partnering with Hot Docs to bring these extraordinary, thought-provoking Festival premieres to Canadians at home,” said Sally Catto, General Manager, Entertainment, Factual & Sports, CBC. “We are grateful to have an opportunity to shine a light on some of our documentary filmmakers during this challenging period for our creative communities, and ensure their voices and perspectives can be shared widely with audiences across the country.”

“We are proud to be partnering with CBC to announce these select Hot Docs 2020 titles and premiere them to Canadian audiences,” said Brett Hendrie, Executive Director, Hot Docs. “Postponing this year’s Festival was heartbreaking, but Hot Docs will continue its mission of supporting documentary filmmakers and bringing their work to audiences through these uncertain times. We’re excited by this unique opportunity to share these vital stories, and we look forward to bringing the full 2020 Festival lineup to our audiences as soon as possible.”

In addition to these exclusive 2020 Hot Docs Festival premiere films, documentary Channel will offer an expanded Hot Docs programming slate from April 16 to May 10, showcasing feature-length documentaries from past Festivals. CBC Gem will offer streaming audiences a HOT DOCS AT HOME ON CBC collection, including features from past Festivals as well as a selection of CBC Short Docs from the 2020 Festival including Hollie’s Dress directed by Annie Sakkab and Nancy’s Workshop directed by Aïcha DiopMore than 750 documentary titles are available on the free CBC Gem service. 

Exclusive Canadian Premiere Lineup on CBC, CBC Gem and documentary channel.
Initial schedule started on Thursday, April 16 and runs until Thursday, May 28 (programming will continue past May 28, more details to be announced in the coming weeks)

Thursday, May 7: MEAT THE FUTURE

(Canada, documentary Channel Original, directed by Liz Marshall)

CBC and CBC Gem at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) and documentary Channel at 9 p.m. ET/PT

The prospect of meat consumption doubling by 2050 is a wake-up call for solutions. The planet’s future may lie with cell-based meat, a food science that grows meat from animal cells, without the need to slaughter animals.

Thursday, May 14: THEY CALL ME DR. MIAMI

(Canada, documentary Channel Original, directed by Jean-Simon Chartier)

CBC and CBC Gem at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) and documentary Channel at 9 p.m. ET/PT

In a world obsessed with self-image Dr. Michael Salzhauer is a rising star. This in-demand plastic surgeon livestreams butt lifts and breast augmentations and is followed by millions on Snapchat.  He’s also an Orthodox Jew, married for 20 years, with five children. The film explores both his family life and religious beliefs, along with his internet pop-culture fame and persona, Dr. Miami.

Thursday, May 21: INFLUENCE

(Canada/South Africa, documentary Channel Original, directed by Richard Poplak and Diana Neille)

CBC and CBC Gem at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) and documentary Channel at 9 p.m. ET/PT

Investigating the rise and fall of the world’s most notorious public relations and reputation management firm, the film charts the recent advancements in weaponized communication.


(Canada, documentary Channel Original, directed by Nathalie Bibeau)

CBC and CBC Gem at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) and documentary Channel at 9 p.m. ET/PT

A whistleblower is sued for $1.5 million for plotting to steal a walrus and falls down the rabbit hole of a personal quest against the backdrop of a movement to end marine mammal captivity. 


Hot Docs ( is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing and celebrating the art of documentary and to creating production opportunities for documentary filmmakers. Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market, welcomes audiences of over 228,000 and more than 2,600 industry delegates to Toronto each year. Year-round, Hot Docs supports the Canadian and international industry with professional development programs and a multi-million-dollar production fund portfolio, and fosters education through documentaries with its popular free program, Docs For Schools. Hot Docs owns and programs Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, a century-old landmark located in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood and the world’s first and largest documentary cinema.

CBC Gem is Canada’s free streaming service, offering more than 5000 hours of live and on-demand acclaimed, authentically Canadian programming and a curated selection of the best-in-class content from around the world, including over 750 documentary titles.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.