The Community Stories Film Festival, produced by Docs In Progress, spotlights contemporary and historical documentaries about our people, places, and events of Maryland, Washington DC, and Northern Virginia.

What began in 2010 as a one night showcase of Docs In Progress student work has grown to become a weekend series of public screenings of films by everyone from professional filmmakers to first-time adult and youth filmmakers, sharing stories from our local community. Each year, more than 500 people engage with filmmakers, those who have been filmed, and scholars at screenings, discussions and community workshops.

Please see "Rules & Terms" for additional guidelines since ours are rather specific. Submissions which do not meet these guidelines will be automatically disqualified. Submission fees will not be returned if you do not follow the guidelines.

All submissions must be:

* Documentary films. We cannot accept fiction work, celluloid films, or scripts.

* We ONLY show documentaries about people, places, history, or current events in Greater Washington DC (Washington DC; Maryland; and the Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun, or the Virginia cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church). Unfortunately if your film is about some other place, we are not the festival for you.

* For 2024, we are accepting short documentaries and feature documentaries (up to 90 minutes maximum). We particularly welcome films that are 45 minutes or less.

* Films must include Closed Caption or English subtitles.

* We prefer films created within the past two years, but will also consider older works.

* Entries must be submitted online through FilmFreeway, Vimeo, or YouTube. We do not accept DVD submissions. If you include a password-protected link, please ensure that the password stays the same through March 20, 2024. If our review committee is unable to access a film because the password has been changed, it will not be considered.

* If selected for the festival, we will require you to upload the film in a .MP4 or .mov file onto our secure film festival platform.

* Filmmakers must have rights to use all music and images presented in the films or be using under fair use (see

* We ask that at least one of the filmmakers is available for a Q&A to encourage interaction between the audience and the filmmaker.

* Films with non-English dialogue must be submitted with English subtitles.

* Submissions which do not meet these guidelines will be automatically disqualified. Submission fees will not be returned if you do not follow the guidelines.

Overall Rating
  • Dave Haft

    We were honored to screen our film and have the organizers bring such a positive, engaged audience. This team cares about filmmakers.

    March 2024
  • Sandi Bachom

    Thank you for selecting my first film, "True Believers at the Insurrection" for your festival. What a wonderful experience I had with Docs In Progress Community Stories Film Festival. The communication and the care you took with me was so appreciated. The Q and A was really wonderful to hear from the other filmmakers. And a special thanks to Willmary for your patience in urging me to do a trailer, couldn't have done it without you. So grateful. Filmmakers toil in solitude and the feedback was so helpful and encouraging. Thank you for supporting independent filmmakers in your programs.

    March 2023
  • I had a wonderful time working with Adele, Lynn, Birgitta, and company showcasing my documentary short "Friends with Plans". They offered necessary guidance, patience, and insight throughout the process. I couldn't be more grateful for the experience!

    April 2022
  • The Community Stories Film Festival did a terrific job during this difficult COVID year. Communication was excellent. They did a great job promoting the festival and the films and the Q&A with the filmmakers and subjects was a blast!

    December 2020
  • Simone Fary

    Truly a lovely experience to show your film to a supportive community.

    November 2019