The Chagrin Documentary Film Festival is a celebration of documentary storytelling and of the filmmakers who bring us their stories. Founded in honor of late filmmaker David Ponce, the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival is proud to bring stories from around the world to Ohio's beautiful Chagrin Valley.

This inspiring and highly attended documentary film festival is entering its eleventh year. Named to MovieMaker Magazine's prestigious list of "Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee" for eight years, the Festival takes place at venues in and around the lovely century village of Chagrin Falls, Ohio with a focus on honoring talented filmmakers from around the world.Due to the COVID-19 situation, the 2020 festival is currently planned to feature in-person screenings as well as an online streamed festival, including, forums.

The Chagrin Documentary Film welcomed an enthusiastic audience of more than 13,000 in 2019.

The Chagrin Documentary Film Festival is extremely pleased to present significant cash prizes to CDFF award-winning documentary filmmakers as part of the 2020 Festival. The winners will be announced at the live streamed Festival Awards ceremony on Saturday, October 10, 2020 and funds totaling $8,000 will be presented.

ANNOUNCING: In recognition of CDFF's mission to honor the passion of the documentary filmmaker, Gravitas Ventures will guarantee distribution in the United States with a non-binding offer (from Filmmaker perspective) for distribution into over 100 million homes for winners of both The Best of Fest and Emerging Filmmaker Awards. Gravitas Ventures will further guarantee that they will release the films within 6 months of the festival dates.

** CDFF reserves the right to schedule additional screenings of award-winning films.

- The David Ponce Best of the Fest award will include a $3,000 prize.
- True to its mission to support and empower filmmakers to tell their stories, the Festival’s Emerging Filmmaker Award winner will be presented with a $1,500 prize.
- A $1,000 prize will be given as part of the award for these additional categories: Best Feature, Social Awareness, Human Spirit Award and Short Documentary.

The Chagrin Documentary Film Festival (CDFF) is a celebration of the spirit of the documentary filmmaker, video artists and those working with the moving image from around the world and around the corner.

1. Dates and Venue
(CDFF) will take place in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, USA between October 6 and October 11, 2020. Submitting films give CDFF the rights to online streaming of films as well as currently planned in-person screening during the Festival dates.

2. Competition
The Festival reserves the right to place entries into alternative categories if they feel it is to the benefit of the title. Each submission must be entered separately. Entries will be assessed and successful submissions will be programmed for screening and enter the Festival competition.

3. Formats
For the selection process, we accept online screeners ONLY.

Please note: if accepted, we require a ProRes file 1080 either via upload or thumb drive.

Please address your entry to:
Chagrin Documentary Film Festival
PO Box 239
Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44022

4. The Festival committee reserves the right to invite films for the competition and program. The final award-winning entries will be selected by a Festival Jury. The winners in each category to be announced on Oct 10, 2020 in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, USA. CDFF reserves the right to schedule additional screenings of award-winning films.

5. Entry Returns
Submissions copies will not be returned unless requested. To ensure your submission copy is returned include a postage paid envelope.

6. Screenings
It is the responsibility of the entrant to ensure that films for screening are deposited with the Festival organizers at least 30 days before any scheduled screening. The Festival DOES NOT pay screening fees.

7. We reserve the right to use submissions for festival publicity and marketing purposes. Submitted films may be used for Festival and post-festival screenings for 12 months.

8. The administrator's decision is final.
Chagrin Documentary Film Festival (CDFF) is hereby granted the right to utilize a film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the Festival for online streaming and in-person theatrical screening and for promotional purposes for a period of 12 months. The Festival does not pay screening fees for any film submitted to the festival.

The individual or corporation submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to commit the film for online or in-person screening, and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations.

By submitting, you indemnify and hold harmless the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening videos entered.

Overall Rating
  • Simone Barros

    The spirit of this festival sets it apart, as a place to view, engage and celebrate filmmakers and the subjects of our documentaries. The festival staff honored the artists featured in my documentary in ensuring a respectful screening experience. Moreover, the festival reached out several months after the festival for an encore screening of my documentary with a Q&A with me and the subjects of my documentary. They truly seek to give the films in their festivals a life beyond the festival event. Jamie Bullock is awesome! Mary Ann Ponce's sincerity remains a truest homage to the love that inspired her to start the festival. I'm honored to have been screened work here.

    May 2020
  • Zachary Capp

    Mary Ann, Jamie, and the entire team at CDFF put on one of the best documentary film festivals in America. They treat the filmmakers like royalty and the entire town gets behind the festival making it a truly unforgettable experience. I look forward to submitting future works for consideration.

    November 2019
  • Of all the world festivals we've been with our short documentary, AGAINST THE WALL, the most enthusiastic crowds came from a tiny village some 23 miles outside of Cleveland, Ohio called Chagrin Falls. Over 13,000 people flooded the town, hungry for the chance to watch one incredible documentary after another. I've never seen nor experienced anything like it... during our film, we received a 5-minute standing ovation from a packed, standing room only crowd (a first) with the Q & A lasting over an hour (before we had to leave the building so that another film could begin). We were talked about on the streets ("Yours is the best documentary I've seen so far!"), in the shops ("What an incredible story!"), and the restaurants ("Your film deserves an Academy Award!"). The next day, the crowds were larger for the 2nd screening that more seats had to be added.

    And the town itself... I love Chagrin Falls with everything in walking distance from the Inn we were staying at. And the people themselves love us filmmakers and appreciate the work we put into our craft. Of the over 500 docs that were submitted, some 83 were chosen from around the world, and it was a packed five days.

    The other thing I noticed, is that the organizers really go all out to publicize the event months in advance. And every film is sponsored by someone or some business in town, making it that much more personal (not to mention the Home Stay Program where families take in filmmakers to help defray the costs).

    It was an incredible event, and I'm sure I'll be returning someday with another project. If you're fortunate for your film to be selected, you, too, will experience something magical unlike anything you've known before.

    October 2019
  • Carvelynne Graff

    It was an amazing festival in the perfect setting, organized and conducted by extraordinary people. It was an honor for our documentary to be among the many exceptional documentaries selected.

    October 2019
  • Eric Bissell

    Great festival! The town is amazing and rolls the red carpet out for filmmakers. Such a friendly wonderful experience. Communication was top notch and I'd recommend this festival for any filmmaker. The only complaint is, there was not an award or prize for the mockumentary category. But just to be a part of and screen in the fest was an honor.

    October 2019