➜ Call for Entries is open for SDFF 2019 ⬅︎
This is our 12th year of exhibiting non-fiction work of independent filmmakers. Each film we program has characters of extraordinary presence, whether animate or not, and compelling stories. Each is a signature of excellence in craft that bridges a filmmakers’ desire to reach an audience. We are known for programming work to this discerning audience that enjoys being challenged as well as entertained.

SDFF 2019, an iconic program of Sebastopol Center for the Arts, continues its tradition of using film as art to highlight all arts. There are topical panels made up of attending filmmakers who focus on filmmaking craft and issues. Docs In Progress offers Peer Pitch West: an opportunity to give documentary pitches a test run in a supportive environment with fellow filmmakers providing feedback.

Sebastopol is in Sonoma County, California. On a good day, we’re only an hour north of San Francisco. We are a mix of small town folk, organic farmers, prize-winning vintners, environmentalists, old hippies and more artists per acre than most. 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. Here is the experience of a Director who was with us last year:

"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."

Jury Award Feature: 40 minutes & over
Jury Award Short: 10-39 minutes
Jury Award Mini-Doc: Under 10 minutes

Critics Award – Feature
Critics Award – Short
Critics Award – Mini-Doc

Audience Awards

Rules & Terms

If accepted for screening, your film will screen 28 – 31 March 2019 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

Films must be submitted via online screener ONLY through the following portals:
- FilmFreeway and its video player;
- Vimeo with its current password protected private link;
- YouTube as an unlisted link.
Passwords must not be changed until submissions have closed and notification of program films is announced.

If you absolutely cannot upload your film please email programming@sebastopolfilm.org for instructions on mailing a physical screener.

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 accepted.

Each accepted film may be screened more than once during the Festival. It can be selected and exhibited once again during Best of the Fest, a series of 6 monthly screenings following SDFF 2019, until year’s end.

There are no fee waivers. 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.

Format Requirements:
Exhibition Formats:
Acceptable exhibition formats vary by venue and include DCP and Blu Ray disc. SDFF requests DVD and/or Blu Ray disc back-up copies for each title. By entering your film, you agree to provide compatible exhibition format(s) and back-ups.

Foreign language films must be made available with English subtitles.

Before sending your DVD, please try it on several machines, including traditional DVD players and computers. Do not include menus, trailers and other special features.

All entry deadlines are postmark deadlines. Entries postmarked after the final deadline may not be considered. Submission fees are non-refundable.

Each entry, by any means, needs to include the following contact information:

Director: Full name, email address, phone number, mailing address
Rights Holder [if different]: Full name, email address, phone number, mailing address
Distributor Contact: Full Name, email address, department, phone number, mailing address

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

By submitting this documentary, I understand that I am agreeing to the following:
I am currently the copyright owner of this work. Should ownership or rights to my film change, this agreement to screen at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival 2019, if accepted, will be upheld and not be infringed. I own or control the copyright and am duly authorized to submit this documentary film to Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival 2019.
If my film is selected for screening at SDFF 2019 up to two minutes of footage from the film and materials accompanying my entry may be used for promotional purposes


Overall Rating
  • Annie O'Neil

    An absolutely wonderful film festival! I highly recommend you go if you are accepted. Great films, great filmmakers, and wonderful hosts!

    October 2018
  • Halvor Nitteberg

    Love this festival. Hope to see you again.

    April 2018
    Response from festival:

    Halvor, Thank you and Elizabeth so much for being here!

  • Sheila Marshall

    At the airport in London I, by coincidence, met a friend whose film played at SDFF a year or two ago. He spoke very highly of the festival and I wasn't disappointed.

    We had a helpful festival liaison and there was always someone on hand to deal with questions we had. On arrival we received a warm welcome by the festival and volunteers and were well looked-after throughout. I had a fabulous host and and town itself was very friendly.

    There were several opportunities to network with filmmakers and I had a great experience at a pitching session where both filmmakers and film lovers gave constructive feedback on projects.

    Our screening was well attended and was followed by a rich Q&A. I made several new friends and was pleased to widen my professional circle.

    Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival was a very affirming experience. I highly recommend it.

    April 2018
    Response from festival:

    Sheila, It was such a delight to have you here. Your provocative film, "Right Between Your Ears", grabbed our audience as did your participation in Peer Pitch. Thank you for your being a vital part of our event.

  • Howard Steen

    As visiting filmmakers it was a real pleasure to attend this event. We felt extremely welcome and very well supported throughout the whole process of submitting our film, preparing for the event and being there. There was a great selection of films to watch and plenty of opportunity for networking at the social events organised throughout the festival. Sebastopol is a very pleasant and relaxed small town with great cinema facilities and a clearly very dedicated group of local volunteers who make this event what it is - an outstanding documentary film festival. Well worth the effort in our case to travel over from Europe. We made many new friends and, as first time film makers were certainly inspired to keep going!

    April 2018
    Response from festival:

    Howard, It was delightful to have you and Peter here for SDFF 2018. We loved visiting Dubhs Ridge on the West Coast of Scotland through your story. Hope our journey's bring us together again sometime. Be sure to keep us in the loop when you have new work!

  • Harris Cohen

    A pleasure to have participated in the 2017 Festival. Every festival person we met was welcoming and helpful. We felt in good company with the other filmmakers, their films and the intelligent audiences. Sebastopol itself - a treat.

    April 2017