DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, is an annual in-person and online event based in Manhattan at the IFC Center and other venues. Voted by MovieMaker magazine as one of the "top five coolest documentary film festivals in the world," the nineteen-day event showcases new achievements in documentary film along with panels and conversations with acclaimed filmmakers and industry professionals.
Filmmakers selected for DOC NYC’s main slate have the opportunity to make in-person connections with the wider New York and international documentary industry ecosphere by receiving festival badges providing rush access to Official Selection films as well as DOC NYC PRO panel programming.
“In just 13 years DOC NYC has become America’s most influential documentary festival.” - Variety
"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
Launched in 2010, DOC NYC quickly became America's largest documentary film festival. The festival audience continued to grow through the pandemic years as DOC NYC maintained its impressive size and expanded its dates and capacity to include online screenings. The 2023 edition will continue DOC NYC’s hybrid format, welcoming filmmakers and audiences back into New York theaters from November 8 - 16, and then continuing online through November 26. The festival has hosted hundreds of world premieres over the years including “Making a Murderer,” “Amazing Grace,” “Far From the Tree,” “Dean Martin: King of Cool,” and “Adrienne.”
The festival annually attracts a Who’s Who of documentary filmmakers. Past attendees include Barbara Kopple, Werner Herzog, Laura Poitras, Raoul Peck, Agnes Varda, Wim Wenders, Stanley Nelson, Brett Morgen, Matthew Heineman, Margaret Brown, Lucy Walker, Nanfu Wang, Asif Kapadia, Michael Moore, Dawn Porter, Ondi Timoner, Ramin Bahrani, Marina Zenovich, E. Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Shaunak Sen, Sara Dosa and many more.
Additionally, the location of New York City creates unique opportunities for special guest appearances. Past DOC NYC guests include Martin Scorsese, Whoopi Goldberg, Rashida Jones, Peter Sarsgaard, Steve Madden, Dan Rather, Ethan Hawke, Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Olympia Dukakis, Jim Carrey, Sarah Polley, Reverend Al Sharpton, Ricki Lake, Sonja Sohn, Jonathan Franzen, Dick Cavett, Harvey Fierstein, Alfre Woodard, Omar Epps, Sonia Sanchez, Jonathan Lethem, Greil Marcus, Mariska Hargitay, Jim Jarmusch, Billie Jean King, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and many more.
Music films have always thrived at the festival in the Sonic Cinema section and other categories. Special guests over the years include Dionne Warwick, Kenny G, Itzhak Perlman, David Byrne, Kathleen Hanna, Anohni, Bela Fleck, J Cole, Jakob Dylan, Ronnie Spector, Steven Van Zandt, Cissy Houston, Fanny, Spandau Ballet, Idina Menzel, Wynton Marsalis and The Mekons.
DOC NYC 2022 grand jury prize winners included “Casa Susanna,” “How To Save a Dead Friend,” “White Night,” “Fragments of Paradise,” and “Holy Cowboys,” with the audience award presented to “1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted a Culture.”
Episodics are welcome and programmed within existing categories.
PREMIERE STATUS REQUIREMENTS:
DOC NYC gives strong programming priority to World or U.S. premieres for feature films, but the minimum status to participate in the festival for both features and shorts is a New York City (5 Boroughs) premiere. The only exceptions to the NYC premiere policy are for films playing in the Short List or Winner’s Circle sections - these do not require any type of premiere status.
DOC NYC has five competition sections:
U.S. Competition – A spectrum of high quality documentaries produced in the U.S. Of the 11 films chosen in 2021, nine were World premieres including “1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted a Culture,” “26.2 to Life,” “The 50,” “Who is Stan Smith?,” and “Loan Wolves.”
International Competition – A spectrum of high quality documentaries produced outside the U.S. Of the 12 films chosen in 2022, all were World or U.S. premieres including “Lazaro and the Shark: Cuba Under the Influence,” “Big Fight in Little Chinatown,” “Ithaka,” and “Children of Las Brisas.”
Kaleidoscope Competition – Documentaries that tend toward the poetic and essayistic. Of the 7 films chosen in 2022 six were World or U.S. premieres, including “White Night” and “Mother Lode.”
Metropolis – Established in the festival’s first year (2010), this section focuses on stories and personalities rooted in New York City. Past titles include World premieres of “Roberta”, “End of the Line,” “Mr. Saturday Night,” “Wojnarowicz,” “Moments Like This Never Last,” “Lydia Lunch – The War Is Never Over,” and “Decade of Fire;” and U.S. premieres of “Hold Your Fire,” “The Photography,” “Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco,” “Winter at Westbeth,” and “The Sarnos – A Life in Dirty Pictures.”
Shorts – 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”.
Note: The DOC NYC Short Film Grand Jury Prize Winner 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.
Special Events – High-profile events and guests. Past titles include the World premieres of “Kevin Garnett: Anything is Possible” (featuring the NBA star in person), the new season of IFC TV's "Documentary Now!" (with Seth Meyers, John Mulaney, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Richard Kind in person), "City of Joy" (with Eve Ensler and Thandiwe Newton in person), the Bruce Springsteen concert doc "Darkness on the Edge of Town” (with Max Weinberg and Thom Zimny in person), "Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?" (with Noam Chomsky and Michel Gondry in person), Amy Berg’s "An Open Secret;” and 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 can change from year to year. Among these have been Sonic Cinema on music films; Game Face Cinema covering the sports world; Fight the Power on activist stories; Photography & Film on stories of image making; and Portraits that encompass biographical work.
SHORT LISTS AND WINNER’S CIRCLE
DOC NYC has separate sections designed to showcase films that are leading contenders for the Oscars and other awards. For these sections, it does not matter if the film has already been screened in New York City or is currently in release.
Submissions for these three sections will open up separately in Spring 2023. To be eligible for these sections, films must have fulfilled Oscar-qualification requirements by the 2023 Academy deadline. For more information about DOC NYC’s Short List and Winner’s Circle program and how to submit your feature for consideration, please visit: https://filmfreeway.com/DOCNYCShortListsandWinnersCircle. NOTE: Films that are submitted for Short List or Winner’s Circle consideration will not be considered for DOC NYC’s main slate programs.
Short List: Features - This section, launched in 2011, curates 15 features and has been a leading predictor of future Oscar nominees and winners.
Short List: Shorts - This section, first launched in 2018, curates 15 shorts and has quickly established a strong track record for anticipating future Oscar nominees.
Winner’s Circle - This section, introduced in 2019, highlights films that have won major festival awards but might fly below the radar of American audiences. Past films shown in Winner’s Circle that went on to make the Oscars’ Short List for Documentary Feature include “Writing with Fire,” “The Mole Agent,” “Bad Axe,” “A House Made of Splinters,”, “Midnight Family,” and “Advocate”.
WORKS-IN-PROGRESS (DUE FOR COMPLETION IN 2023-2024):
DOC NYC connects filmmakers who have works-in-progress features or series with industry representatives via our Industry Roundtables program (formerly known as Only In New York), part of DOC NYC PRO, the festival’s industry programming component.
Filmmakers whose projects are selected for Industry Roundtables participate in live pitches with industry representatives. Past participating companies have included Netflix, HBO, A&E IndieFilms, Amazon Studios, Sundance Institute, Showtime, and over 40 others. For more information about DOC NYC’s Industry Roundtables program and how to submit your Work-in-Progress feature or series for consideration when entries open in the Summer, please visit: https://www.docnyc.net/doc-nyc-roundtables/
ACCESSIBILITY AT THE FESTIVAL
DOC NYC is committed to working with filmmakers to continually improve accessibility for all audiences.
For online exhibition, we strongly encourage all filmmakers to provide their films with closed captioning via VTT file so all home audience members have the option of watching with captions.
For theatrical play, we strongly encourage all filmmakers to submit their films with closed captioning and descriptive audio. We also welcome open caption versions.
DOC NYC annually presents juried awards to Competition titles, with award details to be announced on docnyc.net. Additionally, DOC NYC presents an Audience Award that is open to all features screening in the main slate section of the festival, with the exception of films in the Short List, Winner's Circle, or retrospective films.
Partnering with Odyssey Impact®, DOC NYC will present the 2nd annual #MyJustice Film Award with the generous support of Paramount/Content for Change Academy. The award consists of a $10,000 cash prize and an Odyssey Impact® led six-month National Impact Campaign to one eligible submitted short film that has a social justice theme and a strong call to action. To learn more about Odyssey Impact and the panel of judges visit:
• Feature documentaries are forty-one (41) minutes or longer. Shorts are forty (40) minutes or shorter, including all credits. Episodics may be any length, but at least 50% of the series episodes should be submitted for consideration.
• 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 or interactive category, so these kinds of projects are not eligible for consideration. Should that change for a future edition, we will include information on requirements and eligibility on both the DOC NYC website and FilmFreeway.
• DOC NYC gives strong programming preference to pre-release new films that have not yet been widely screened. For the 2023 edition, we are ideally seeking films for World or US premieres, or for their potential DOC NYC screenings to be one of the next significant screenings in the film’s journey (for films that have already world premiered elsewhere). Films that have world premiered earlier than September 2022 will not receive programming preference.
• To be eligible for inclusion (other than Short List and Winner’s Circle sections), Features and Shorts 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: *Features that have premiered at otherfestivals/series/events and been part of an online component at those events, provided that the organizers of those events are not based within the five boroughs of NYC, can be exempted from this rule. If you have questions about the eligibility of your Feature, please email email@example.com BEFORE submitting.
• All submissions MUST be made via FilmFreeway. We do not accept submissions made by email.
• If you change your screener link, or the password connected to it, make sure to update this in your FilmFreeway entry and to email the updated information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• 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 DVDs 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 DCPs, film prints, master tapes, or other originals.
• All entrants will be notified of their status on or around September 30, 2023, via email.
• Please keep us informed of any changes regarding your contact information by emailing email@example.com.
• 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS:
By submitting this documentary film (the “Film”), I understand that I am agreeing to the following:
• I have the legal right to represent and to submit this Film to the DOC NYC film festival (the "Festival”) and IFC Theatres LLC (“IFC”) and all statements on this document are true;
• There is no action, suit, claim or proceeding pending, affecting or, to the best of my knowledge, threatened against this Film or its producers, cast, or crew in connection with this Film or otherwise;
• Unless the film is officially selected for inclusion at the Festival, I understand that I cannot use the DOC NYC name or logo in any of my film’s marketing and/or promotional materials;
• Music and any other third party material clearances and all copyright clearances are my sole responsibility and, if selected for the Festival, I agree that the Film will be fully cleared prior to the first screening at the Festival and no part of the Film will violate or infringe upon the rights of any third party. None of the Festival or IFC will be held responsible for any legal disputes regarding the exhibition of the Film. Noncompliance may affect, delay, and/or disqualify my entry.
• If the Film is selected for screening at the Festival, I grant each of the Festival and IFC the right to screen the Film at the Festival;
• I understand and agree that the Film, if selected for the Festival, may be used for promotional purposes for the Festival, IFC and/or its affiliates, partners and sponsors; and I grant each of the Festival and IFC, and its affiliates, partners and sponsors, the right to use provided footage (not to exceed 5 minutes), stills and/or titles and information from the Film for such promotional purposes;
• Should the Film win any award, I am authorized and/or empowered by all parties legally representing and/or owning the Film to receive all cash prizes and awards and to distribute them appropriately;
• I fully indemnify and hold the Festival, IFC, and each of their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, affiliates, sponsors, licensees, and assigns harmless from and against any and all claims, damages, liabilities, costs, and expenses in connection with the Film, including:
• reasonable attorneys’ fees and other expenses of defense arising from or in connection with any breach of any of the foregoing agreements, representations or warranties or from or in connection with any litigation or any claim or proceeding commenced by a third party alleging or arising from libel, slander, defamation, invasion of privacy, infringement, unauthorized use or any other right of such third party or wrongful conduct; and any claims which may arise in connection with the Film.
If the Film is selected to screen at the Festival, you will need to provide the following:
• Digitally uploaded Projection DCP and digital on-line file by the required deadline. The filmmaker is responsible for the delivery costs of the DCP costs to the Festival.
• Press kits, trailers, promotional materials, and screener links (for jury screenings, if selected for competition) for preview.
• Screener links for the Festival’s registered press and industry badgeholders (optional).
Please do not send these materials until your Film is selected for the program. The Festival reserves the right to complete any information not supplied by the filmmaker from whatever source available and will not be responsible if incorrect information is entered.
The Festival strives to make online and in-person screenings accessible to visually impaired and Blind/Deaf patrons. The Festival encourages filmmakers to provide descriptive audio and closed captioning in the Festival’s specified formats, if available, but the Festival will not be responsible for creating these film files.
Note: The Festival does not pay screening fees for films shown in theaters. If a feature film is shown on DOC NYC’s online platform, the Festival has a program to share revenue with the film’s rightsholder (short films are not eligible for this program). For films that have a director based over 200 miles outside of New York City, if the director travels to attend the film’s in-person screening, the Festival can provide a modest flat honorarium in support of travel, but does not otherwise cover any expenses.
Note: The Festival has the right to change any information contained in this document (including Festival dates, venues, events, presentation format, awards, and eligibility requirements) without further notice.