🎬 Note Revised Festival Event Dates: June 10 - 13, 2021

In light of ever changing COVID-19 conditions, and the impact on our industry, audience and bottom line we’re moving forward on the 2021 calendar. All other posted deadlines remain in place. If regulations at that time permit, live screenings will again be possible.

Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival is a bridge for independent non-fiction filmmakers from anywhere in the world to reach their audience. Since our beginning in 2007, each film programmed for SDFF is a signature of excellence in craft, character and storytelling. We are driven by an immense curiosity to learn and understand the lives of others, lives different from our own.

Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival is proud to announce that it has been approved by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as an Academy Qualifying Festival for the Documentary Short Subject category. Recipients of the SDFF Jury Award for Short Subject and Jury Award for Mini-Doc are now eligible for consideration in the Documentary Short Subject category of the Academy Awards® without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules.

This past year has been marked by global upheaval of outrageous proportions. That change has only strengthened our commitment to filmmakers: to deliver your work to as wide an audience as possible, while insisting on preserving integrity, security and the value of your endeavors. Our commitment to the audience is to provide the best independent documentary films that engage, inform and excite. We also have a commitment to the safety of all who participate. We are optimistic that SDFF 2021 can take place with few restrictions but are prepared to be flexible in how we fulfill our role in providing exemplary documentary work. We relish the opportunity to experience life through another lens; to reveal storytelling through voices familiar and obscure; to explore frames of information as a base for critical thought and decisions.

Here is the experience of one Film Director:

"What makes a film festival great? Well, there are many answers to that, and some are logistical, have to do with panels, number of screenings, etc. but there is always a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that sends a festival into an entirely different realm. Your festival has that. Somehow when you add up the films, the theaters, panels, and the volunteers and their endless smiles and patience, and the filmmakers in attendance, you come up with a weekend that feeds the heart and soul. That is what you accomplished. Thank you."

Sebastopol is in Sonoma County, California. On a good traffic day, we’re only an hour north of San Francisco. We are a mix of small-town folk, organic farmers, prize-winning vintners, musicians, environmentalists, old hippies and more artists per acre than we can count. We’re curious, engaged, opinionated and welcoming to all. Take some time to see if this is the Festival that fits your film. The documentary film community knows us. Ask around.

Jury Award Feature: $1,000 - 40 minutes & over
Jury Award Short: $750 - 10-39 minutes
Jury Award Mini-Doc: $750 - Under 10 minutes
Audience Award: TBD - Feature
Audience Award: TBD - Short

All films selected for SDFF 2021 are considered eligible for competition except those titles curated and invited for special programs.

If accepted for the program, your film will screen June 10 – 13, 2021 at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival.

Films of any completion date are eligible for submission. However, accepted films must not have been shown commercially anywhere in Northern California* prior to the festival.
*Excludes films curated for special programs



Submission fees are non-refundable. We are sensitive to this issue and keep our fees low. They offset a portion of our administrative costs in bringing you and your audience together.

Passwords must not be changed until submissions have closed and notification of program films is announced.

We do not accept rough cuts, subsequent cuts or more complete versions of submitted films, therefore changing or updating the originally submitted link is not permitted.

Each accepted film may be screened more than once during the Festival. Programming is at the discretion of SDFF.


Exhibition Formats:
SDFF has multiple screening venues. Some require DCP; others do not.
You will be informed of the required screening format when the program is locked.
Acceptable exhibition formats are QuickTime or ProRes files which can be delivered as a download link or mailed to SDFF on a SD card, flash drive or hard drive. If you have a DCP version of your film, we will also need a digital file backup copy (QuickTime or ProRes file).

By entering your film, you agree to provide compatible exhibition format(s) at least 30 days before the start date of the festival to give SDFF print traffic manager time to QC your doc.

Before sending your media, please verify that your film plays correctly. Do not include menus, trailers and other special features.

SDFF will not pay shipping costs to the festival. SDFF will pay return shipping of media files, within the United States, to the designated filmmaker/distributor after the festival concludes provided complete return shipping address labels and contact information is included with the materials. If you want your materials returned to an address/location outside the United States, please provide return postage with your self-addressed return shipping container and put the name of your film on all shipping materials.


Foreign language films must be made available with English subtitles.


Each entry, by any means, needs to include the following contact information:
➯ Director: Full name, email address, phone number, postal mailing address
➯ Rights Holder [if different]: Company name; Contact name, email address, phone number, postal mailing address
➯ Distributor Contact: Company name, Contact Name, email address, department, phone number, postal mailing address.

You are responsible for updating SDFF directly regarding any change to your contact information and ensuring that emails from are not blocked by spam filters.


By submitting this documentary, I understand that I am agreeing to the following:
I own or control the copyright and am duly authorized to submit this film to Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival 2021. Should ownership or rights to my film change, this agreement to screen at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival 2021, will be honored, upheld and not be infringed.

If accepted, I will not withdraw my film from SDFF 2021. Upon selection for screening at SDFF 2021 up to two minutes of footage from the film and materials accompanying my entry may be used for promotional purposes.


All entry deadlines are postmark deadlines. Entries postmarked after the final deadline might not be considered.

NOTIFICATION DATE: January 26, 2021
EVENT DATES: June 10 - June 13, 2021

Overall Rating
  • Jon Osaki

    The SDFF team really made the best of a difficult situation when the pandemic forced them to go virtual. Their Docs Makes House Calls was a brillant pivot. Hope to screen in-person someday!

    September 2020
    Response from festival:

    Jon, Thank you so much for all your support in making it happen Your film, Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066 and conversation enriched the experience for all of us. We too are eager to gather again, when it's safe, to celebrate film.

  • Bob Simmons

    Sorry folks, better luck next time. This year's Sebastopol is either postponed (indefinitely?) or cancelled entirely. I send my most sincere condolences for our loss.

    April 2020
  • Jan Millsapps

    One of my best-ever festival experiences. The staff, including many volunteers, is gracious and generous with their time and expertise. They support and value the filmmakers from start to finish. Screenings were well organized and clearly publicized, and films I saw there were excellent.

    April 2019
  • David Auerbach

    I loved being at the Festival with my short documentary. I stayed with a lovely cinephile host family, saw some inspiring films and made some new friends among the international and local film community. I hope I can come back. Thank you SDFF!

    April 2019
  • Radu Sava

    We had a blast at the festival. The workshops with top professionals were very inspiring. Our hosts were very generous. We made a lot of new filmmaker friends.

    April 2019