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Documentary Film Festival Submissions: Winter 2018

If you’re ready to put your documentary in front of an audience, then you might want to start submitting to film festivals. Ranging from…
Documentary Film Festival Submissions: Winter 2018

If you’re ready to put your documentary in front of an audience, then you might want to start submitting to film festivals. Ranging from Atlanta to New Zealand, these festivals can help you build an audience and gain recognition for your documentary. Some of these deadlines are coming up soon, so don’t miss out on your chance to submit!

USA-Based Festivals

AFI DOCS: Due January 26

Festival: June 13–17, 2018

This documentary-exclusive film festival takes place in Washington D.C. and Silver Spring, Maryland. It screens films on a wide range of topics and accepts international submissions.

Atlanta Docufest: Due February 28

Festival: September 13–15, 2018

The Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival, or Docufest, celebrates independent documentary films and filmmakers from around the world. Held during the Atlanta Fall Film Series, the festival is part of five unique film festivals that spotlight every film genre.

Brooklyn Film Festival: Due February 15

Festival: June 1–10, 2018

Located in Brooklyn, New York, BFF is an international, competitive festival that offers prizes totaling $50,000 or more. Award-winning films from the festival have gone on to win or be nominated for BAFTAs and Oscars.

Cinema at the Edge: Due February 28

Festival: April 5–8, 2018

Located in Santa Monica, California, CATE is still accepting submissions for documentary shorts and features under its late deadline. With four days of screenings, parties, and artist programs, CATE showcases and accepts domestic and international documentaries about controversial and socially prominent topics.

Dallas International Film Festival: Due January 26

Festival: May 3–10, 2018

Hosted by the Dallas Film Society, DIFF accepts feature-length documentary films or documentaries under 25 minutes in their short-film category. Last year, the festival showcased 172 films from 31 countries to an audience of over 27,000.

New Orleans Film Festival: Due March 16

Festival: October 17–25, 2018

The New Orleans Film Festival in Louisiana showcases over 230 films to more than 25,000 attendees over nine days. Over 90% of the films come from submissions, and the festival is committed to ensuring that over 35% of the films are helmed by filmmakers of color.

New Orleans Film Festival 2016 Documentary Feature in Competition

NYC Independent Film Festival: Due January 31

Festival: May 7–13, 2018

NYC Indie Film Festival is still accepting submissions under their extended deadline. The film screenings take place in Times Square and offers networking and panels for indie filmmakers.

San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival: Due January 26

Festival: June 14–24, 2018

Frameline42, the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, is a competitive film festival that offers cash prizes for their Audience Awards. The festival is one of the largest and most-recognized LGBTQ film exhibitions in the world with almost 60,000 attendees annually.

Seattle International Film Festival: Due February 2

Festival: May 17 — June 10, 2018

Located in Seattle, Washington, this film festival is still accepting submissions via Withoutabox under their extended deadline. They are one of the largest and most-attended film festivals in the U.S., screening over 400 films from more than 80 different countries.

SF DocFest: Due March 3

Festival: May 31 — June 14, 2018

The San Francisco-based festival shows documentaries from around the world in a two-week period. It accepts international submissions.

Worldfest Houston: Due January 31

Festival: April 20–29

This Houston-based international film festival is still accepting entries under its late deadline. Founded fifty years ago, Worldfest was the third competitive international film festival in North America. They offer twelve major competitions and over 200 sub-categories that accept international submissions.

International Festivals

Doc Edge Festival: Due January 18

Festival: May 9 — June 4, 2018

This New Zealand-based documentary film festival is still accepting submissions under its late deadline. The festival, along with a film industry conference, brings filmmakers from all over the world to pitch stories, share their films, and network.

Edinburgh International Film Festival: Due January 18

Festival: June 20 — July 1, 2018

The longest continually-running film festival, EIFF has been taking place in Edinburgh, U.K., for over 70 years. Their film programme emphasizes new talent, discovery, and innovation and presents short and feature-length films from all over the world.

2017 Edinburgh International Film Festival Nominee for Best Documentary Feature Film

Encounters South African International Documentary Festival: Due March 1

Festival: May 31 — June 10, 2018

Taking place in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, the festival is celebrating its 20th year. Beyond featuring over 70 films, it also offers a virtual reality and interactive documentary exhibition. They have separate competitions for African and international documentaries.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival: Due February 28

Festival: June 29 — July 7, 2018

Karlovy Vary IFF is the largest film festival in the Czech Republic and one of the oldest A-list film festivals. Each year it shows over 200 films from around the world and offers a Best Documentary Film Grand Prix award of $5,000.

Sheffield Doc/Fest: Due February 9

Festival: June 7–12, 2018

Located in Sheffield, U.K., Sheffield Doc/Fest has over 30,000 attendees each year. They screen over 180 documentaries from around the world as well as offering talks, sessions, and a marketplace.

Visions du Réel, Festival international de cinéma Nyon: Due January 10

Festival: April 13–21, 2018

This Swiss film festival takes place in Nyon, Switzerland, and offers screenings, master classes, debates, meetings with professionals, and more. They promote the festival films all year at screenings throughout Switzerland. Last year, they showed 179 films from 55 different countries.


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By D. Simone Kovacs, Storyhunter Editor