Six to 10 grants of $10,000-$40,000 will be given annually.

Documentary festival Hot Docs and Blue Ice Film have partnered to create a $1m production fund — the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Film Documentary Fund — to provide financial support to independent documentary filmmakers based in developing African countries, it was announced today at the opening of the Hot Docs Forum co-production pitching event.

“The marketplace has changed and traditional funding sources for docs have become increasingly scarce,” said Hot Docs executive director Chris McDonald in a release. “Blue Ice Film is joining us to create innovative solutions.”

The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Film Documentary Fund will disburse six to ten grants each year to applicants for projects in various stages of production. Grants will range from $10,000 to $40,000. In addition to financing, the initiative will also offer industry connections. The fund is the first international documentary fund administered by Hot Docs.

“There are countless documentaries made about Africa, but not enough are made by Africans,” says a Blue Ice Film principal in a release. “The goal of the Fund is to enable more Africans to tell their own stories and contribute to a new generation of African filmmakers.”

An accompanying mentorship program will allow selected African producers to team with international production partners to bring their projects to international markets, festivals, broadcast and online audiences.

Currently, Hot Docs administers the Shaw Media-Hot Docs Funds, which over the past three years has provided 54 Canadian documentary projects with over $1m in completion grants and $359,000 in no-interest development loans.

The first application deadline for the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Film Documentary Fund will be in the autumn of 2011 and guidelines will be available in September.