All About Alumni / Spring 2009
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Film savvy helped Brett Hendrie land one of Hot Docs’ top jobs


Part of Brett Hendrie’s job is to watch movies. But the U of T film grad’s profession involves more than curling up on the couch with a bowl of buttered popcorn. “It’s work,” says Hendrie, 30. “I’m taking notes.”

As the managing director of Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Hendrie (BA 2001 Innis) watches 200 to 250 films between January and April. He and a Hot Docs team choose the 150 movies for the largest documentary film festival in North America, which this year runs from April 30 to May 10. “We look for films that will capture the imagination of the audience, that expose them to new people and new worlds,” he says.

Picks from past years include In the Shadow of the Moon, which features Apollo astronauts talking about their space travels. It went on to win Grand Prize at the Boulder International Film Festival. The festival also screened Anvil! The Story of Anvil, which charts the ups and downs of the aging Canadian metal rock group. It snagged a Los Angeles Film Festival Audience Award.

Hendrie directed his own feature-length documentary, Frosh Forward, in his final year at Innis. The film follows five students during their first year at U of T. While it reveals that their expectations about university are inaccurate, the students aren’t disappointed by what they discover. “First year is a challenging year, and that’s what I wanted to show,” says Hendrie. Orientation leaders have screened the flick during Frosh Week.

Hendrie, who manages the Hot Docs organization, landed his job in 2004 – a fitting role for someone who worked part-time at an investment firm and bank, and sold tickets at the Hot Docs box office as a U of T student. “It’s a good gig,” he says


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