NHdocs seeks to build a sense of community among documentary filmmakers from the greater New Haven area (and we are quite inclusive in our reach!). Many of these filmmakers work as independents, some teach at universities in the area, while others rely on various kinds of day jobs. We look forward to showing work that has been or will be shown at prominent International Film Festivals, but we also want to show work being done in the city’s schools and by students at nearby universities. We are resolutely democratic in our embrace of the documentary tradition on the local as well as the international level. We can learn from and support each other.


What we screen: We are a regional documentary film festival with a world-class twist. We solicit material by filmmakers from Connecticut and Rhode Island. We also screen films about Connecticut made by non-local filmmakers. (Of course, we reserve the right to program an occasional exception.) Likewise our student competition is limited to students who have either grown up in Connecticut and Rhode Island or who attend college in these two states.) Our final weekend consistently features a retrospective by a renowned filmmaker(s), whose current work brings then renewed, timely attention. In 2016 it was Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney. For 2017, we featured recent documentaries by Academy-Award winning filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker and his partner Chris Hegedus, concluding with their animal-rights documentary Unlocking the Cage (2016). We also offered a works-in-progress screening for local filmmakers and a series of panels for both aspiring and experienced filmmakers on such topics as Guerilla producing/fund-raising, digital cinematography, and post-production.

Where we screen: The vast majority of our screenings take place at Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center 225-seat auditorium, 53 Wall St, New Haven, CT. We can show DCP, Blu-ray, 35mm and16mm film and regular DVD. We also screen documentaries at the New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Elm St on the first Saturday in the afternoon (June 3rd). On Tuesday evenings, we screen a music documentary in conjunction with a live musical performance at Café Nine, 250 State St, New Haven, CT.

Our philosophy: NHdocs seeks to build a sense of community among documentary filmmakers from the greater New Haven area (and we are quite inclusive in our reach!). Many area filmmakers work as independents, some teach at local universities, while others rely on various kinds of day jobs. We look forward to showing work that has been or will be shown at prominent International Film Festivals, but we also want to show work being done by local filmmakers whose work has not found the kind of recognition it deserves. We also look to faculty and students in the city’s schools and at nearby universities. We are resolutely democratic in our embrace of the documentary tradition on the local as well as the international level.

Our Audience: NHdocs wants to help filmmakers find audiences for their documentaries. And we are presenting documentaries for audiences with a wide range of interests. This has included historical documentaries; music docs; portraits of artists; documentaries about social issues such as immigration, mental health, animal rights, and LGBT students in New Haven schools. We want to engage a variety of social and political issues such as mass incarceration or computer geeks seeking to undermine the world of government secrecy. Our line up is filled with remarkable surprises. People are encouraged to come and not only see but discuss what your neighbors have been doing. Last year we had an audience of approximately 1,800 separate visitors. We expect this to increase to approximately 2,500 in 2017.

Our Origins: NHdocs came together in 2014 when four filmmakers from New Haven gathered together for the first time . . . in Missoula, Montana. That’s right: The Big Sky Documentary Festival in Missoula. And despite being from the same town, a few of us had never met before. It made us realize how desperately New Haven (and Connecticut) needed a film festival that could bring filmmakers together and help build community.

In 2017, The New Haven Documentary Film Festival showed 25 documentary features and over 50 nonfiction shorts. Most were local if not world premieres. The opening night offering, Stephen Dest's I Am Shakespeare: The Henry Green Story (2017), drew a SRO crowd of 250 and was followed by an encore screening. Many of the films took New Haven as its theme or locale, including this compelling portrait of nineteen-year-old Henry Green, who lived the dual life of a brilliant young actor and an inner-city gang member. Shortly after his inspiring performance in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Green was brutally shot and left for dead––only to make a slow but miraculous recovery. Jim O’Connor’s Food Haven (2017) looks at the amazing ethnic diversity of New Haven’s numerous restaurants.

At a time when Immigration laws are very much in the news, we showed documentaries that dealt with local issues including Travis Carbonella’s The Sanctuary City ICE Created: Ten Years Later (2017), Frank Chi and Kica Matos’s Felipe’s Letter to His Three Sons (2016) and the world premiere of Sebi Medina-Tayac’s Tlaxcala Dreams (2018), about the many New Haven residents that comes from the state of Tlaxcala, Mexico, and efforts to maintain ties with family members who live south of the border. Tram Luong’s Elegy for the Time Being looked at the life of Huỳnh Sanh Thông, a Vietnamese immigrant, teacher and translator who lived in New Haven and taught at Yale.

The many films about New Haven were balanced by an array of accomplished documentaries by other Connecticut-based filmmakers, which took on a wide range of topics and issues. Lindsay Thompson’s Travel Light revealed the joys and challenges of pilgrimaging through Spain while Margaret Costa’s My Name Is Joan (2018) investigated practices of forced adoption in Ireland. Other achievements looked at a high school ambulance service in Darien with Tim Warren’s High School 9-1-1 and the sometimes cold business of religion with John Follis’s Leaving God.

This past year we introduced an Audience Award for feature-length documentaries over 60 minutes. It was won by Jennifer Abod’s The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen (2017). Bowen, who has had a long and adventuresome life, spent many years in New Haven where she ran a now mythic dance studio.

Once again, the festival sponsored a Student Competition for high school students and college undergraduates: 15 films from 6 colleges and 2 high schools were screened among many others submitted for consideration. In addition, a short documentary film made by 3 middle school students was screened out of competition. Four of the films in the student competition were recognized with prizes and special citations by judges Karyl Evans (jury head), Rebecca Abbott, Anthony Sudol and Adrian Correia.

…….. First Prize went to Resettled: New Haven's Refugee Community (2018) directed by Yale University student Sanoja Bhaumik. This timely and compelling film explores New Haven's refugee community and their advocates in a shifting political landscape. Second Prize went to Two Tails of One City, directed by Quinnipiac University student Brooke Mommsen. She tells the story of the economic disparity in Los Angeles, through the lens of Downtown Dog Rescue, an organization helping dogs and humans in poverty. Third Prize went to Daryl's House directed by Charlotte Chauvin from Western CT State University. This documentary gave us a special look inside rock legend Daryl Hall's unique restaurant and live music club in Connecticut. All prize winners received Western Digital MyPassport hard drives, while First and Second prize winners received $250 and $100 respectively.

The Organizers: NHdocs co-directors Gorman Bechard and Charlie Musser are veteran filmmakers who span the infamous town-gown divide. New Haven-born Bechard has directed 14 feature films (documentaries and fiction) since 1983. Charlie Musser has been teaching documentary filmmaking and a range of courses on film history/theory and criticism at Yale since 1992. Our two other co-founders (Lisa Molomot and Jacob Bricca) taught at Wesleyan but have moved to Arizona. Now we have been teaming up with other local New Haveners as our organization continues to grow.

NHdocs Student Competition 2017


1. Students must be residents (out - Residents) of Connecticut or Rhode Island or attend schools in these two states for their documentary to be eligible.

2. Documentaries must be completed after January 1, 2017.

3. Students must have begun their documentary before graduation and completed it within six months of graduation. Collective efforts (multiple producers, directors, etc) are encouraged but (out- submissions will be reviewed for eligibility:) the submitted documentary must be made predominantly by a student or students who meet the criteria for eligibility.

4. There are three prizes. A First Prize of $250 plus a My Passport portable hard drive and a Second Prize of $100 and a My Passport portable hard drive, and a third prize of a My Passport portable hard drive. All films screened at the festival will receive a certificate of participation. An awards ceremony will follow the screening of student films.

5. Documentaries will only be officially accepted once the requisite media for the screening has been received. This will include a .mov file or Blue-Ray plus a regular DVD.

6. Works in Progress in an advanced stage may be considered. Acceptance is contingent upon the final documentary being completed two weeks before the festival begins.

7. DVDs of student documentaries will be donated to the Yale Film Archive after the festival screening.

We are looking for documentaries made by Connecticut/Rhode Island-based filmmakers only. Shorts and features. You must be a Connecticut/Rhode Island filmmaker OR the film must be about a subject related specifically to Connecticut/Rhode Island. Completed after January 2015.

Screening MUST be a New Haven area premiere.

Please DO NOT submit if you do not meet the above requirements.

Overall Rating
  • A great festival with creative curation in terms of matching my film with other films shown on the night the film was screened.

    June 2018
  • Martha Gorzycki

    Informative festival, well organized and very welcoming. Gorman and Charles do a fantastic job fostering a community that encourages dialog among audience and filmmakers. Thank you for a great festival experience!

    June 2017
  • John Follis

    The films, programs, and staff, were amazing and made some great new connections.

    June 2017
  • Fred Cantor

    Superb festival run by two veteran filmmakers with as nice a screening venue as I have been in: the auditorium at Yale's Whitney Humanities Center. The icing on the cake was a brunch for filmmakers featuring D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

    June 2017
  • Jim O'Connor

    Great festival, amazing workshops, venue was incredible! Hope to be back here in the future!

    June 2017