Executive Reads: Alan Black

Alan Black is a Gemini-nominated filmmaker and the Associate Director, Operations at Hot Docs, one of the world’s largest documentary film festivals. As a filmmaker, he has taken viewers inside the strange yet wonderful worlds of weightlifters (Strongman), Northern folk musicians (Beautiful and Deranged: The Song of the Yukon), and hardcore Bingo players (Jackpot). In his ten years at Hot Docs he has helped the festival grow from a small local affair to one of the most important festivals on the planet, even having its own theatre, The Bloor Cinema, where multi award-wnning documentaries play. Currently on the marquee are the critically-acclaimed The World Before Her and I Am Not A Rockstar.

Still Life With Woodpecker – Tom Robbins
Not sure how much this book would resonate with me now, but when I read it in my early 20s, it rocked my world. Tom Robbins seemed to know everything about everything. This book was jam-packed with wild ideas and copious amounts of information. This book filled me with a deep desire to travel, read, explore, and learn. As a documentarian, I have been able to gain incredible access to worlds and cultures I would never have otherwise encountered, and at Hot Docs I have been lucky enough to help bring an audience to thousands of transformative films that have hopefully done for people what this book did for me.

Robert Altman: The Oral Biography – Mitchell Zuckoff
Altman was uncompromising in his vision. His films were the product of a fierce ambition, rebellious spirit, and need to experiment and mine for new ideas and ways of telling stories. The book served as a reminder that the best work comes from rebels, pioneers, free sprits, and those unafraid to buck trends and pursue their own passions wherever they lie.

Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
I recently had my first child. For the first few months, I had a very hard time balancing my career and fatherhood. I felt I was underperforming in both roles. A few months in, it became a tradition to read this lovely and touching children’s book to my daughter at bedtime. Each time I read it to her, I am reminded of my priorities and motivated to work hard in my career and harder as a father. Reading this book gives me focus, clarity, and a sense of purpose…three qualities that serve me well in most any situation.