Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 DOC CHICAGO conference will have to be rescheduled. We will still accept entries from Illinois filmmakers through March 23rd, but are not able to guarantee that the Illinois Short Docs Contest and the DOC CHICAGO conference will be able to go ahead this year. We will send an update to all accepted entries at a later date.

The 2020 DOC CHICAGO conference, in partnership with the Illinois Film Office, presents the inaugural Short Docs Contest for Illinois filmmakers. The contest aims to highlight documentary productions from across the state of Illinois and help nurture new talent. Illinois filmmakers are invited to submit a short documentary to compete for a $500 cash prize. The winning entry plus select finalists will screen as part of the 2020 DOC CHICAGO conference at the Chicago Cultural Center on May 1-2, 2020. The DOC CHICAGO conference is a project of the non-profit Percolator Films presented in partnership with the Chicago Film Office/DCASE. Submitting your film and attending the conference is FREE!

The DOC CHICAGO conference will present engaging and informative panels and workshops, opportunities to mingle with other filmmakers, plus a screening of the finalists and winning entry of the Short Docs Contest. You must be a current Illinois resident to enter this competition. Submissions must have been produced between 2018-2020 and be 25 minutes or less in running time.

The winner will receive a $500 cash prize and their film will screen during the 2020 DOC CHICAGO conference. Finalists will also be shown at the conference. Finalists will be determined by a screening committee and an independent contest judge will make the award decision. Contest decisions are final.

ONLY current ILLINOIS RESIDENTS are eligible to enter their short documentaries into DOC CHICAGO's Short Docs Contest without restriction by age, gender, background, professional or student status. The filmmaker (director) had to be a resident of Illinois when making the film and also still has to reside in Illinois. Other production roles filled by Illinois residents (producer, writer, crew etc) do not qualify an entry to be considered if the director is not Illinois-based. Your entry will be automatically disqualified if you are not an Illinois resident.

Films can be up to 25 minutes max in length and must have been produced during 2018-20. Filmmakers can only submit ONE film to the contest.

All documentary styles are accepted, including essay films, observational documentaries, activist videos, interview-driven projects, personal documentaries, hybrid works, and more. Pure fiction, animation, or sponsored projects (e.g. documentary-style promo videos) are not eligible. Student projects and independent documentaries that have received funding through sponsorships, grants, or crowdfunding are eligible.

There is no fee to enter the Illinois Short Docs Contest.

The winner and finalists of the Short Docs Contest grant DOC CHICAGO the right to screen their films publicly during the conference. The DOC CHICAGO conference does not pay screening fees.

Contest entrants allow for short film excerpts to be used for publicity and marketing purposes (e.g. a trailer for the conference). The individual or company submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to enter the documentary into the competition and accepts these requirements and regulations.

It is the sole responsibility of the filmmakers to obtain rights and permission for use of music, copyrighted materials, and all other creative work related to their films. The DOC CHICAGO conference is not responsible for any infringement of such rights. By submitting, you indemnify and hold harmless the DOC CHICAGO conference and its partnering organizations from any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses.

Contest decisions made by the administration of the DOC CHICAGO conference are final.

The 2020 DOC CHICAGO conference is a project of Percolator Films, a Chicago-area 501c3 non-profit media arts organization, and is presented in partnership with the Chicago Film Office/DCASE. The Short Docs Contest is organized in partnership with the Illinois Film Office.