🎬 June 1 usually opens calls for entries to the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival. Not this year. As Michael Moore writes, “It is time for us to invent something new, something bold that is progressive and sustainable…”.

SDFF 2023 wrapped as a resounding success. More filmmakers attended than ever before; their films were exceptional; the panels engaging, fun and useful. Our core group of volunteers, again, made it joyfully smooth as if by magic. Now is a perfect time to take a breath.

SDFF is taking a year off from the festival circuit to plan and implement a robust film festival and program within the SebARTS organization, of which we are a part. We are excited at the possibilities of collaborations: opportunities for artists, audience and communities.

The website will continue to be just as active. News about alumni filmmakers, industry conversations and follow-up of topics brought to the festival in films and panels. Connect via <https://sebastopolfilmfestival.org>. Subscribe to the website newsletter to keep up to date on information about special film events throughout the year. Send your own news to director@sebastopolfilm.org.

Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival is proudly progressive, featuring spotlights on social justice and journalism. With the proliferation of AI, documentary might become our only touchstone for what was ‘real’ at a moment in time. We will continue to encourage and provide equal opportunity for filmmakers through open calls for entry; explore what it’s like for any life to wake to its existence. We’re curious, engaged, opinionated, appreciate humor and are welcoming to all.

Come join us in continuing the ageless tradition of storytelling circles. Looking forward to a refreshed SDFF 2025.

The Team of Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival

Awards & Prizes
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 2023 are considered eligible for competition except those titles curated and invited for special programs.

Submission Requirements:

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 the Festival closes all in-person and streamed programs.
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.

Films of any completion date are eligible for submission. However, accepted films must not have been shown commercially anywhere in Northern California* within 60 days prior to the festival.
*Excludes films curated for special programs

Exhibition Formats:
SDFF has multiple screening venues in Sebastopol. Some require DCP; others do not use DCPs . You will be informed of the required screening format when the program is locked.

Foreign language films must be made available with English subtitles.

By entering your film, you agree to provide compatible exhibition format(s) at least 40 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.

Most films can be delivered via digital transfer. You can also ship your film file to us on hard drive/flash drive. SDFF will not pay shipping costs to or from the festival. If you want any materials returned or shipped on to another address, please provide postage with your addressed shipping container. The title of your film must be on all shipping materials.


Each entry 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 programming@sebastopolfilm.org or FilmFreeway are not blocked by spam filters.

All deadlines are firm.

Filmmaker Agreement to Terms of Entry:
By submitting this documentary, Filmmakers understand that they agree to the following:

Filmmakers have ownership or control of the copyright and are duly authorized to submit this film to Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival 2023.

Should ownership or rights to my film change, this agreement to screen at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival 2023, will be honored, upheld and not be infringed.

If accepted, Filmmakers will not withdraw the film(s) from SDFF 2023. Upon selection for screening at SDFF 2023 up to two minutes of footage from each film and materials accompanying selected entry(ies) may be used for promotional purposes.

NOTIFICATION DATE: November 17, 2022
March 16 – 19, 2023 In-Person Theatrical Screenings
March 20 - 26, 2023 Streamed Selections from Theatrical Program

Overall Rating
  • Thank you Sebastopol for screening our awesome client Art & Pep (dir. Mercedes Kane) 💚💙❤️

    May 2023
  • Nora Jacobson

    This is a wonderful film festival. The volunteers were stellar. I enjoyed the experience tremendously.

    May 2023
  • Annie Leclair

    Heartfelt thanks to the lovely and passionate team at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival! It has been a real privilege to have "Grounded" exposed and nominated for the jury's award amongst such incredible films, panels and crowds! Really looking forward to experiencing in person the next edition!!

    April 2023
  • Debi Cornwall

    It was a joy to attend the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival with my short, Jade Helm. I found the team very organized, communication clear and helpful, and a strong program.

    March 2023
  • Michelle Docter

    What a sweet festival! From the moment my film was accepted I felt taken care of and valued. The festival itself was so joyful and it was great to see the community come together to watch beautiful films and talk to the filmmakers after. So honored to be part of the 2023 festival!

    March 2023