Note: DOC NYC 2021 will take place November 10-18, 2021. We are planning an in-person event, but may offer an online component or a hybrid model based on public health guidelines. We will announce updates as we have them via our website: www.docnyc.net.
Submissions for our OINY networking session will open in the spring
DOC NYC, New York’s documentary festival, is an annual event based in Manhattan at the IFC Center, SVA Theatre, and Cinépolis Chelsea. Voted by MovieMaker magazine as one of the “top five coolest documentary film festivals in the world”, the nine-day event showcases new achievements in documentary film along with panels and conversations with acclaimed filmmakers and industry professionals. DOC NYC seeks to make connections that happen “only in New York.” Filmmakers whose projects are selected to screen at DOC NYC will receive badges providing rush access to all regular films as well as to DOC NYC PRO panel programming.
“This cinematic bonanza covers everything new and noteworthy in the world of documentary filmmaking.” – The Huffington Post
“DOC NYC has cemented itself as one of our favorite festivals of the cultural calendar.” – Flavorpill
“DOC NYC has become an essential summit for all kinds of documentary filmmaking.” – Wall Street Journal
“An essential event on the cinephile’s calendar.” – Time Out New York
“The most comprehensive celebration of the nonfiction form in the five boroughs or anywhere else for that matter.” – AM New York
Launched in 2010, DOC NYC quickly became America’s largest documentary film festival. In 2019, the festival showcased over 300 films and events, presented by 500 filmmakers and special guests in person. In 2020, when many festivals cancelled or contracted, DOC NYC served as an online showcase for over 200 films, and presented virtual panel programming throughout the year. Past festival guests include Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Martin Scorsese, Seth Meyers, Agnes Varda, Wim Wenders, Jean Claude Christo, Michael Apted, Michael Moore, Eric Clapton, Whoopi Goldberg, Rashida Jones, Peter Sarsgaard, Itzhak Perlman, Steve Madden, Dan Rather, Ethan Hawke, Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Olympia Dukakis, Gale Ann Hurd, Jim Carrey, J Cole, Sarah Polley, Reverend Al Sharpton, Noam Chomsky, Ricki Lake, Michel Gondry, Errol Morris, Oliver Stone, Darrell Hammond, Sonja Sohn, Jakob Dylan, Eve Ensler, Jonathan Franzen, Dick Cavett, Brian Stelter, Omar Epps, Sonia Sanchez, Jonathan Lethem, Gilbert Gottfried, Yvonne Rainer, Beau Willimon, Kathleen Hanna, Spandau Ballet, Greil Marcus, Bela Fleck, Mariska Hargitay, Nat Hentoff, Chuck Workman, Frederick Wiseman, Barbara Kopple, Jim Jarmusch, Ronnie Spector, Steve Miller, Steven Van Zandt, Cissy Houston, Betty Harris, Tony Alva, Mayor David Dinkins, Billie Jean King, and The Mekons.
2020 grand jury prizes winners included “Landfall,” “Five Years North,” and “Sing Me a Lullaby,” with the audience award presented to “La Madrina: The [Savage] Life of Lorine Padilla.“
DOC NYC’s Short List Awards included recognition for “Time,“ “Welcome to Chechnya,“ “Boys State,“ “76 Days,“ and “A Love Song for Latasha.“
Viewfinders – A competition section recognizing distinct nonfiction perspectives from around the world. Eligibility requires a minimum New York City premiere with preference given to World or U.S. premieres. Past titles include World premieres of “A La Calle,” “The Meaning of Hitler,” “Naila and the Uprising,” and “Cooked: Survival by Zip Code;” and U.S. premieres of “City Dream,” “Sing Me a Song,” “Symphony of the Ursus Factory,” and “The Judge.”
Metropolis – A competition section focusing on New York City or New Yorkers. Eligibility requires a minimum New York City premiere with preference given to World or U.S. premieres. Past titles include World premieres of “Wojnarowicz,” “Moments Like This Never Last,” “Lydia Lunch – The War Is Never Over,” and “Decade of Fire;” and U.S. premieres of “Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco,” “Winter at Westbeth,” and “The Sarnos – A Life in Dirty Pictures.”
Shorts Programs** – Selections of nonfiction shorts, organized thematically. Past titles include Seung-jun Yi’s “In the Absence,” Darius Clark Monroe’s “Black 14,” Rishi Chadna’s “Tungrus,” Lydia Cornett’s “Yves & Variation,” Alison Klayman’s “Flower Punk,” and Laura Poitras and Henrik Moltke’s “Project X.
**The winning short film qualifies in the Documentary Short Subject category of the Annual Academy Awards® without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules.**
Remaining festival sections are all feature-length and require New York City premieres at a minimum, with a preference for World or U.S. premieres. Note: Exceptions may very rarely be made to consider films which have already screened in NYC – contact firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire BEFORE submitting.
Special Events – High-profile events and guests. Past titles include the World premieres of Netflix sensation “Making A Murderer,” the new season of IFC TV’s “Documentary Now!” (with Seth Meyers, John Mulaney, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Richard Kind in person), “Far From the Tree” (with Andrew Solomon in person), “City of Joy” (with Eve Ensler in person), Springsteen doc “The Ties That Bind” (with Thom Zimny in person), “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?” (with Noam Chomsky and Michel Gondry in person), and Amy Berg’s “An Open Secret;” U.S. premieres of “Finding Vivian Maier,” “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band” (with Robbie Robertson in person), “Sing Me The Songs That Say I Love You” (with Rufus Wainwright in person), and “Charlotte Rampling: The Look” (with Charlotte Rampling in person).
American Perspectives – Past titles include the World premieres of “Chasing Childhood,” “Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope,” “Maynard,” and “Sex and Broadcasting;” as well as screenings of “Scandalous,” “We Believe in Dinosaurs,” “Pahokee,” and “Only the Young.”
International Perspectives – Past titles include the World premieres of “Ganden: A Joyful Land,” “Afterward,” “New Homeland,” and “Lovesick;” North American or U.S. premieres have included “School of Seduction,” “Golda,” “Kosher Beach,” and “Soufra;” and screenings of “Once Upon a Time in Venezuela,” “Red Penguins,” “In My Blood It Runs,” “Ask the Sexpert.”
In addition, DOC NYC annually presents several thematic strands, which often change from year to year. Among these have been Masters, focusing on new work from acclaimed documentarians; true crime-focused Investigations; environmentally-themed Green Screens; the current affairs-oriented New World Order; science/technology-based Science Nonfiction; sports-themed Jock Docs; music-focused Sonic Cinema; films-on-films Behind the Scenes; arts-focused Art & Culture; performance-based Centerstage; activism-oriented Fight the Power; animal-themed Wild Life; photo-focused Photography on Film; institutional portraits In the System; and love and romance-oriented True Love.
WORKS-IN-PROGRESS (NOT TO BE COMPLETE UNTIL 2022-2023):
DOC NYC connects filmmakers who have with works-in-progress features or series with industry representatives via our Only In New York program, part of DOC NYC PRO, the festival’s industry programming component. Filmmakers whose projects are selected for Only In New York participate in meetings with industry representatives. Past participating companies have included Netflix, HBO, A&E IndieFilms, Amazon Studios, Sundance Institute, Showtime, and over 40 others. Note: This is NOT a public-facing program; no public screenings of the WIPs are held.
For more information about Only In New York and to submit your Work-in-Progress feature or series for consideration when entries open in the Summer, please visit: https://filmfreeway.com/DOCNYC-OnlyinNewYork
Awards & Prizes
DOC NYC annually presents several awards, with award details to be announced on docnyc.net:
Viewfinders Jury Prize
-Open to the features selected for the Viewfinders Competition.
Metropolis Jury Prize
-Open to the features selected for the Metropolis Competition.
Shorts Jury Prize
-Open to all selected short films screening in festival-curated shorts programs or before feature presentations.
DOC NYC Audience Award
-Open to all new features screening in any section of the festival, with the exception of films in the Short List, Winner’s Circle, Special Events, or retrospective films in the Redux section.
Pitch Perfect Award
-Open to the works-in-progress selected for Pitch Perfect, part of the Only In New York program. For more information and to submit your Work-in-Progress project, visit: https://filmfreeway.com/DOCNYC-OnlyinNewYork
Rules & Terms
• Previously submitted documentaries will not be accepted, unless the film has undergone significant content changes (60% or more) and meets all other submission requirements.
• Feature documentaries are forty one (41) minutes or longer. Shorts are forty (40) minutes or shorter, including all credits.
• If the documentary is in a language other than English, it must be subtitled or dubbed in English (subtitling is preferred).
• Promotional, instructional, industrial films, or raw documentation of performances are not eligible.
• At this time, DOC NYC does not have a VR category.
• Generally, DOC NYC preferences newer films for inclusion. For the 2021 edition, we are ideally seeking films which are making their public premiere within calendar year 2021, or, barring that, had their world premiere no earlier than September 2020.
• To be eligible for inclusion, Features must not have screened in-person publicly in NYC prior to the Festival, nor have been broadcast on US television or made available online before the festival, nor commercially released on DVD/Blu-ray, VOD, or for download to the public. Note: Because of the pandemic’s impact, for 2021’s festival we *will* consider Features that have participated in other online festivals/series/events, provided that the organizers of those events are not based within the five boroughs of NYC. If you have questions about the eligibility of your Feature, please email email@example.com BEFORE submitting.
• For non-competition Feature sections, exceptions may very occasionally be made to consider films which have already screened in NYC in certain cases – contact firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire BEFORE submitting.
• While a NYC premiere is not a firm requirement for Shorts, strong preference is given to short films that have not yet screened in the five boroughs of New York City.
• DOC NYC will consider Shorts that have had an online presence, though our preference is to spotlight work that has not already reached a large audience. Note: Again, we will consider the pandemic’s impact when making selection decisions.
• All submissions MUST be made via FilmFreeway. We do not accept submissions made by email.
• When submitting your video, DOC NYC prefers that you link your film from Vimeo to your FilmFreeway project rather than upload your video directly to FilmFreeway.
• If you change your Vimeo link, or the password connected to it, make sure to email the updated information to email@example.com.
• While you may update your submitted video link with a revised cut of your film, please note that we generally are only able to view one cut of a submission. If your update takes place after we have already reviewed the previous cut of your film, we cannot guarantee that we will watch the revised cut.
• Please Note: We do not accept DVD as a submission format. All entries must be submitted by link connected through your FilmFreeway entry.
• Filmmakers may submit more than one documentary, but each documentary must be accompanied by its own Entry Form and Entry Fee.
• The Entry Fee is non-refundable.
• Mailed materials will not be returned. Please do not send film prints, master tapes, or other originals.
• All entrants will be notified of their status on or around September 30, 2021 via email.
• Please keep us informed of any changes regarding your contact information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Due to the number of submissions received, DOC NYC unfortunately cannot provide feedback on entries.
• Unless your film is officially selected for inclusion in the festival, DOC NYC’s name or logo may not be used in any of your film’s marketing and/or promotional materials.
• Filmmakers cannot submit Features to specific competitive or thematic sections. The DOC NYC programming team determines section placement after film selections have been made.
• For questions regarding submissions, see Festival Description or email email@example.com.
Early Deadline: February 19, 2021
Regular Deadline: March 19, 2021
Late Deadline: April 30, 2021
Final Deadline: June 30, 2021
September 30, 2021