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:

2021 Film Submissions are now closed.

To submit to our OINY networking sessions, click here. Final deadline August 1.

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 become an essential summit for all kinds of documentary filmmaking.” – Wall Street Journal

“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 canceled or contracted, DOC NYC served as an online showcase for over 200 films, and presented virtual panel programming throughout the year. Click here to see 2020 Festival Award Winners.


U.S. and International Competitions – New in 2021, DOC NYC is creating separate competitions to replace the prior section Viewfinders. Eligibility requires a minimum New York City premiere with preference given to World or U.S. premieres. Past titles from Viewfinders that reflect the material being sought for these new competitions 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.”

Kaleidoscope Competition – New in 2021, the Kaleidoscope Competition will be overseen by veteran DOC NYC programmer Ruth Somalo, who also serves as President of The Flaherty Board of Trustees. “DOC NYC is excited to deepen our commitment to documentaries that engage with the ever expanding potential of the cinematic form,” said Somalo. “In keeping with the name Kaleidoscope, we’re looking for films that change our perspective and delight us.” Eligibility requires a minimum New York City premiere with preference given to World or U.S. premieres.

Metropolis Competition – 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.”  The section is led by longtime DOC NYC programmer Karen McMullen, who also works as the Director of Programming at TIDE and a Features Programmer for the Tribeca Festival. “As New York starts to emerge from the pandemic and reinvent itself, we’re excited for the Metropolis section to explore the city’s past, present, and future,” said McMullen.

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 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).

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.

DOC NYC connects filmmakers who have 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:

DOC NYC accepts submissions via FilmFreeway for both Features and Shorts.

For rules, terms, and eligibility requirements, please visit our FilmFreeway or email


Early Deadline: February 19, 2021
Regular Deadline: March 19, 2021
Late Deadline: April 30, 2021
Final Deadline: June 30, 2021
Extended Final Deadline: July 9, 2021

Notification date:
September 30, 2021