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 festival 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
Launched in 2010, DOC NYC quickly became America's largest documentary film festival. During the pandemic, when many festivals canceled or reduced their line-ups, DOC NYC committed to maintaining its usual size. The 2020 edition moved online, then the 2021 edition welcomed filmmakers and audiences back into theaters, taking place both in person and online. 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 has also hosted a Who’s Who of documentary filmmakers including Barbara Kopple, Werner Herzog, Raoul Peck, Agnes Varda, Wim Wenders, Stanley Nelson, Lucy Walker, Nanfu Wang, Asif Kapadia, Michael Moore, Dawn Porter, E. Chai Vasarhelyi, and Jimmy Chin.
The location of New York City creates unique opportunities for special guest appearances. Past DOC NYC guests include Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, 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, Omar Epps, Sonia Sanchez, Jonathan Lethem, Greil Marcus, Mariska Hargitay, Jim Jarmusch, and Billie Jean King.
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, and The Mekons.
DOC NYC 2021 grand jury prize winners included “Once Upon a Time in Uganda,” “On the Other Side,” “Nude at Heart,” “Hold Your Fire,” and “Nasir,” with the audience award presented to “The Reverend.”
DOC NYC's 2021 Short List Awards included recognition for “In the Same Breath,” “Flee,” “Ascension,” “Faya Dayi,” and “Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma.”
PREMIERE STATUS REQUIREMENTS:
All films at DOC NYC - features and shorts - require a minimum New York City premiere, with preference given to World or U.S. premieres. The only exceptions to the NYC premiere policy are for films playing in the Short List or Winner’s Circle sections.
In 2021, DOC NYC introduced several new competition sections: U.S., International, and Kaleidoscope. These three sections replaced the former Viewfinders Competition section.
U.S. Competition – A spectrum of high-quality documentaries produced in the U.S. Of the 12 films chosen in 2021, eight were World premieres including “Anonymous Sister,” “Be Our Guest,” “Boycott,” “Grandpa was an Emperor,” and “Newtok.”
International Competition – A spectrum of high-quality documentaries produced outside the U.S. Of the 12 films chosen in 2021, seven were U.S. premieres including “Comala,” “The Forgotten Ones,” “F@ck This Job,” and “The Mole”; and two were World premieres: “Go Through the Dark,” and “Young Plato.”
Kaleidoscope Competition – Documentaries that tend toward the poetic and essayistic. Of the 7 films chosen in 2021, four were U.S. premieres: “Invisible Demons,” “The Man Who Paints Water Drops,” “Nothing But the Sun,” and “Nude at Heart.”
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 “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 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 Luminaries, focusing on new work from acclaimed documentarians; Sonic Cinema on music films; Art + Design covering the art world; Fight the Power on activist stories; Photography & Film on stories of image-making; and Portraits that encompass biographical work.
SHORTLISTS AND WINNER’S CIRCLE
DOC NYC has three sections meant to showcase films previously released within the year 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 2022. To be eligible for these sections, films must have fulfilled Oscar-qualification requirements by the 2022 Academy deadline.
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 include “Writing with Fire,” “The Mole Agent,” “Midnight Family,” and “Advocate” that all went on to make the Oscars’ Short List for Documentary Feature.
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 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 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/
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 any section of the festival, with the exception of films in the Short List, Winner's Circle, Special Events, or retrospective films.
• 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 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.
• Generally, DOC NYC preferences newer films for inclusion. For the 2022 edition, we are ideally seeking films that are making their public premiere within the calendar year 2022, or, barring that, had their world premiere no earlier than September 2021.
• 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: Because of the pandemic's impact, for 2022'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.
• All submissions MUST be made via FilmFreeway. We do not accept submissions made by email.
• If you change your Vimeo 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 film prints, master tapes, or other originals.
• All entrants will be notified of their status on or around September 30, 2022, 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;
• damage to or loss of the film print or videotapes en route to or from the Festival or during the course of the Festival's possession of the entry;
• 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:
• Projection print or video by the required deadline. The filmmaker is responsible for the delivery costs of the print shipment to the Festival, including any applicable customs fees. The Festival will return the print to the supplier or to the next domestic destination as indicated by the supplier at the Festival's conclusion. The Festival does not provide extra insurance for originals or masters.
• Press kits, trailers, promotional materials, and additional screeners for preview.
• Screener links for the Festival press liaison (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 d/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 film is shown on DOC NYC’s online platform, the Festival has a program to share revenue with the film’s rights holder. For films that have a director based over 400 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 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.