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Hot Docs Picks Charlotte Cook As Top Programmer

North America's largest documentary festival has hired the British film specialist to program the annual Toronto event.

TORONTO – At major international documentary festivals, women suddenly rule.

With founder Ally Derks leading the IDFA in Amsterdam, the rival Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival has followed suit and chosen British film programmer Charlotte Cook as its new director of programming.

“Film programming can be a bit of a boy’s club. She’s a breath of fresh air,” Hot Docs executive director Chris McDonald said Wednesday about her appointment.

Cook was most recently head of film programming for two years at the Frontline Club in London, a private club for independent journalists, and especially war reporters.

“She was screening 100 films a year. I’m delighted to have a woman in that role here. Also, she happens to have a European perspective,” McDonald added.

Cook replaces Sean Farnel, who stepped down in June after programming Hot Docs for six years, and before that picking films for the Toronto International Film Festival for five years.

Before the Frontline Club, Cook programmed for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and was strand coordinator with BBC Storyville.

Cook will oversee a Hot Docs programming team that includes Lynne Fernie, Karina Rotenstein, Heather Haynes, Gisèle Gordon and Lynne Crocker.

She arrives at Hot Docs just as the Toronto festival enjoys growing audiences and a higher international profile, even as Canadian documentary makers face falling government subsidies for their films,

The 19th edition of Hot Docs, North America's largest documentary festival, is scheduled to run April 26 to May 6, 2012.