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Documentary Film Festivals Accepting Submissions in Summer 2018

Get your documentary films ready because we have a list of over fifteen festivals accepting submissions this summer. With locations ranging…
Documentary Film Festivals Accepting Submissions in Summer 2018
Egyptian Marquee, 2015. 2015 Sundance Institute. Photo Credit: Jemal Countess.

Get your documentary films ready because we have a list of over fifteen festivals accepting submissions this summer. With locations ranging from New York to Kolkata, there are festivals opening up all around the world that are ready to see your next project.

USA-Based Festivals

AFI Fest: Due July 13

Festival: November 8–15, 2018

Hosted by the American Film Institute and held in Hollywood, CA, AFI Fest is Los Angeles’ longest running international film festival. They accept American, international, and short documentary films, which can still be submitted under their late deadline of July 13.

Atlanta Docufest: Due May 31

Festival: September 13–15, 2018

In its 13th year, the Atlanta, Georgia based festival showcases independent documentaries from all over the globe. They focus on sharing meaningful stories that educate and entertain audiences from every demographic. They are still accepting submissions under their late deadline of May 31, though the final deadline is August 6.

Austin Film Festival: Due May 25

Festival: October 25 — November 1, 2018

The Austin Film Festival in Texas celebrates the importance of narrative in filmmaking, and have categories open to both documentary features and shorts. MovieMaker named them as one of the top 50 film festivals worth the entry fee. While their regular deadline is May 25, you can still submit up to their extended deadline on July 6.

Chicago International Film Festival: Due June 16

Festival: October 10–21, 2018

The Chicago International Film Festival showcases films from both established and emerging storytellers and claims to be the longest-running competitive film festival in North America. Last year, they screened over 140 feature films, including 30 feature-length documentaries.

Cinequest Film & VR Festival: Due October 12

Festival: March 5–17, 2018

Cinequest takes place in San Jose and Redwood City, California. As stated on their site, “Cinequest’s uniqueness and impact result from being ahead of the curve in the powerful integration of creativity and technology. Cinequest fuses the world of the filmed arts with that of Silicon Valley’s innovation to empower youth, artists, and innovators to create and connect.” The early submission deadline for a feature documentary is $50, due August 10, while the price bumps to $60 for the October 12 regular deadline.

DOC NYC: Due May 18

Festival: November 8–15, 2018

DOC NYC is an annual event based in New York City. MovieMaker Magazine voted it one of the top five coolest documentary film festivals in the world. This eight-day festival showcases documentary films along with panels and Q&As with acclaimed filmmakers and industry professionals. The late deadline is May 18, but can be extended to July 6.

Flathead Lake International Cinemafest: Due August 31

Festival: January 25–27, 2019

The Envision Polson! Year-Round Committee, a group formed under the Greater Polson Community Foundation, set out to offer events and activities to the Greater Polson, Montana community. That is how the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest began. The deadline for films 30 minutes or more is August 31 and the submission fee is $25.

LA Film Festival: Due May 21

Festival: September 20–28, 2018

Founded by the non-profit organization, Film Independent, the Los Angeles-based festival is in its 17th year. Over the course of nine days, the festival features projects ranging from documentaries to web series. They are currently accepting submissions with a late deadline on May 21, and an exclusive late deadline for Film Independent members on June 1.

Miami Film Festival: Due September 28

Festival: March 1–10, 2019

As stated on their site, “The mission of Miami Film Festival is to bridge cultural understanding and encourage artistic development by provoking thought through film. By bringing the best of world cinema to Miami, the Festival presents the city and the film industry with a singular platform that fosters creative and technical talent.” The festival takes place in Miami, Florida. The short film submission period is May 1 to September 28 while the feature film submission period is July 2 to September 28.

New Orleans Film Festival: Due June 22

Festival: October 17–25, 2018

As stated on their website, “The New Orleans Film Society discovers, cultivates, and amplifies diverse voices of filmmakers who tell the stories of our time. We produce the Oscar-qualifying New Orleans Film Festival annually and invest year-round in building a vibrant film culture in the South to share transformative cinematic experiences with audiences, and connect dynamic filmmakers to career-advancing resources.” The last day to submit is June 22 under their extended deadline.

Sundance Film Festival: Due September 14

Festival: January 24 — February 3, 2019

Sundance is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, taking place in Park City, Utah. With over 70,000 attendees at last year’s two-week event, Sundance is one of the best places to get your project seen by the masses. Submissions for feature length documentaries are $65. The early submission deadline is August 10, though you can submit until the late deadline on September 14.

International Festivals

British Documentary Film Festival: Due June 1

Festival: November 3, 2018

The British Documentary Film Festival is accepting submissions of any and every type of documentary. It takes place in London, United Kingdom. They are giving out a handful of awards this year including: The Environmental Award, The Life Changing Award, The Wild Animal Award, The Heritage Award, and Best Short Documentary Award. June 1 is the regular deadline, with an extended deadline to September 21.

CAMERIMAGE International Film Festival: Due May 30

Festival: November 10–17, 2018

CAMERIMAGE is an international film festival based in Poland, dedicated to the art and craft of cinematography. This will be its 26th edition. All filmmakers, producers, and distributors are invited to submit feature films, documentaries, music videos, TV pilots and student etudes for consideration. For no fee, the submission deadline is May 30. For PLN 200, you may submit June 30th.

Dublin Doc Fest: Due June 15

Festival: November 2, 2018

Dublin Doc Fest is Ireland’s only film festival purely for short documentaries. It has been running for six years and their goal is to bring short docs to a wider audience. If you miss their regular deadline, you can submit under their late deadline until August 31.

FRONTDOC: Due August 20

Festival: November 6–11, 2018

This film festival in Aosta, Italy, is revolves around the theme of borders and they look for films that explore new frontiers between documentary and other artforms. The festival is in its tenth year and accepts documentaries of any length.

Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival: Due July 31

Festival: October 25–30, 2018

Based in the Czech Republic, Ji.hlava International Film Festival was conceived by a group of students in 1997. It has grown significantly since then, accepting both shorts and features, along with animated documentaries, online documentary projects, or any cross-genre TV formats (docudrama, docusoap, reality show, mockumentary, or virtual reality).

Kolkata Wildlife & Environment Film Festival: Due August 15

Festival: December 14–16, 2018

This film festival takes place in Kolkata, India, and they are looking for films with a central focus on the natural world. Their early bird deadline is June 15 and the latest deadline is August 15. A run time of any length is permitted. Awards will go the best films in the following categories: Best Film, Best Director, Special Mention, Best Debut Film, and Best Cinematography.

Toronto International Film Festival: Due June 1

Festival: September 6–16, 2018

Toronto International Film Festival is still accepting documentaries under their extended deadline f June 1. The fee is $155 and film must have a runtime of 50 minutes or longer, be directed by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and be produced or co-produced in Canada.

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By Lena Drake, Storyhunter Writer