The Top 10 Documentary Film Festivals to Submit Your Film to in 2023

If you’re a documentary filmmaker, then you know that submitting your film to documentary films festivals is a necessary step in the filmmaking process. Film festivals provide filmmakers with an opportunity to have their films seen by industry professionals, as well as a chance to win awards and recognition. There are many different film festivals out there, but not all of them are worth your time. In this blog post, we will discuss the top 10 documentary film festivals that you should submit your film to!

The International Documentary Film Festival

The International Documentary Film Festival is a celebration of documentary filmmaking from across the globe! We built this event to be solely focused on achievements in the craft of great documentaries, and since then, it’s become a source of value, education, connection, development and showcases of greatness in this creative world.

The International Documentary Films Festivals is all about passion for the documentary world. Of course, a major component of our festival is the chance to screen incredible works from diverse filmmakers around the world.. But beyond that? IDFF is loaded up with panels, discussions, interviews, resources, networking opportunities, tools and more. The goal is always to bring value to everyone in attendance. Whether an official selection, a finalist, an award winner, a sponsor, or a member of the audience: We strive to make the International Documentary Film Festival a valuable opportunity for anyone and everyone!


The American Documentary and Animation Film Festival and Film Fund (AmDocs)

The American Documentary and Animation Film Festival is a documentary films festivals taking takes place every year in Palm Springs, California. AmDocs is one of the largest Docs and Animation only festivals in the United States, located near the media capital of Hollywood. This unique event focuses on international films in both the short and feature categories as well as showcasing animation.

Recipients of the festival’s qualifying awards will be eligible for consideration in the Documentary Short Film category of the Academy Awards® without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules.

In conjunction with the festival is the American Documentary Film Fund where U.S. filmmakers compete for start-up or finishing funds in order to complete their film masterpieces. AmDocs, seeing the bigger picture. The AmDocs Film Fund provides grants and awards to documentary filmmakers who attend the festival. So all-in-all, it’s an amazing opportunity for documentary filmmakers.

The Top 10 Documentary Film Festivals to Submit Your Film To

The Documentary Filmmaker Showcase by LiftOff

Liftoff’s Documentary Showcase is a platform for documentary filmmakers looking for a global audience. The Documentary Showcase is a documentary films festival that aims to celebrate some of the incredible and insightful content that we receive. The event will consist of a screening for the selected films, which includes a chance to receive feedback and discuss further development in the documentary genre. Followed by participating in our Twitch stream which will be centered around valuable industry-focused documentary tips and tricks and then finishing on a tour of the world-famous Pinewood Studios itself.

The Sheffield Doc/Fest

The Sheffield DocFest is the UK’s leading documentary festival and one of the world’s most influential markets for documentary projects. We champion and present the breadth of documentary form – film, television, immersive and art – in the vibrant city of Sheffield each June. We offer makers and audiences a place for inspiration, debate, development, learning and challenge. Our programming represents our core values – creativity, empathy, freedom, inclusivity and internationalism.

The Top 10 Documentary Film Festivals to Submit Your Film To

Melbourne International Documentary Film Festival (MIDFF)

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is a popular and beloved institution. We have grown over the last 7 years to be the go-to Australian documentary film festival for Australian, UK, North American, Asia, European and documentary filmmakers worldwide to compete at. At the same time becoming an important and essential Australian film festival, showcasing the world’s best and most innovative cutting-edge documentaries. If accepted, you are guaranteed to be part of an incredible, world class line up. The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is a forerunner event in July before Melbourne’s premier event Melbourne International Film Festival which starts in August.

Melbourne Documentary Film Festival

is Australia’s biggest indie doco fest – 150 + documentaries over 31 days. We are currently recruiting for local Melbourne, Australian, and International Feature Documentary… Short Documentary, Documentary Web Series, Video Essays, Documentary Photography, VR and Interactive Documentaries that are looking for Oceania, Asia-Pacific, Australasia, Australia and Melbourne premieres to compete in our Australian Documentary Awards held during our July 2023 festival.

IDFA: International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam

IDFA believes in the power of documentaries. In creative documentaries that deepen, reveal and inspire. In documentaries that bring people closer together. And in documentaries that stand for change by inspiring people to act. IDFA aims to bring creative documentaries and audiences together. Therefore, it stimulates the production and distribution of a wide range of documentary films while also developing the demand for them. In this way, IDFA contributes to expanding and improving the international documentary climate, specifically by promoting inclusivity and giving a voice to underrepresented filmmakers.

The Top 10 Documentary Film Festivals to Submit Your Film To

Berlin International Film Festival – Berlinale Talents – Doc Station

Berlinale Talents is the annual summit and networking platform of the Berlin International Film Festival for outstanding creatives from the fields of film. The Doc Station invites ten participants to share their non-fictional scripts or concepts with a line-up of internationally acclaimed film consultants. In a tailored combination of group work and one-on-one sessions, each project is dissected, discussed and developed, culminating in a public presentation under the keen eyes of industry players.

Open City Documentary Festival

Open City Documentary Festival creates an open space in London to nurture and champion the art of non-fiction cinema. Based at the UCL Centre for Public Anthropology, we deliver training programmes, an annual documentary festival, the bi-annual Non-Fiction journal and events throughout the year that aim to challenge and expand the idea of documentary in all its forms.

man in black and gray plaid dress shirt sitting on chair

RiverRun International Film Festival

Moviemaker Magazine’s called it one of the “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” in 2018. The RiverRun International Film Festival is a regional festival based in Winston-Salem, NC. It is principally known as a filmmaker-friendly event to showcase the year’s best, new international cinema. Each spring, RiverRun screens new narrative, documentary, student and animated films of all lengths from established and emerging filmmakers around the world. In addition to the Festival’s annual short and feature-length juried competitions, RiverRun also presents a broad range of special events, regional premieres of significant films, celebrity tributes, family programs, retrospectives, panel discussions and parties. RiverRun is also an Academy Award qualifying festival in the Documentary Short and Animated Short categories!

Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

The 31st Annual The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is the longest running non-fiction festival in North America. HSDFF offers multiple awards categories. And it’s a designated Academy-Award© -qualifying festival for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Documentary Short Subject. MovieMaker Magazine has named HSDFF to its global list of “50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee”. Each year, HSDFF presents multiple special sidebar programs. One of the most recent being Women Behind the Lens: Diverse Perspectives in 2016. Funded by a grant from the Academy.

The Top 10 Documentary Film Festivals to Submit Your Film To

Wrapping up: Is submitting your film to a documentary festival worth it?

Yes! Film festivals are a great way to get your documentary film seen by industry professionals. And increase the chances of it being distribution. The top documentary film festivals are worth submitting to… Because they offer networking opportunities. Feedback from industry professionals. And a chance for your documentary to be recognized by peers. So, if you’re looking to submit your documentary film… Look no further – the top documentary film festivals are waiting for you!

This has been… The Top 10 Documentary Films Festivals to Submit Your Film To

Explore more about documentary films festivals across FILMNET!