Thin Line Fest is a blend of documentary film, multi-genre music, and photography: Texas' International Documentary Film Festival since 2007; one of Dallas / Fort Worth's largest music festivals since 2014; and the highly anticipated photography festival now in its 6th year. The 14th Annual Thin Line Fest is March 24 - 28, 2021.

We are very excited to announce that Thin Line will award nearly $35,000 in cash and prizes at this year's festival including large awards to the Best Feature and Short Documentary, Emerging Filmmaker and Best International Documentary.

Thin Line Fest will give your documentary our undivided attention during the review process. We review documentaries on any topic, of any length, shot on any format, and completed in any year. We want relevant stories with compelling characters and told in a creative way. We want to review your mockumentaries, docufictions and other hybrid forms of documentary. We love films with an uplifting message, or about overcoming adversity, about music or art, or with great characters. Regardless the topic, we want to watch it!

Thin Line Fest is a multi-format festival focusing on three artistic areas: documentary film, multi-genre music, and category-specific photography. We love crossover opportunities and if your film includes a way to include one of the other festival areas please let us know. We also want to know about any Texas connection. Please include this information in your cover letter.

Thin Line Fest is set in Denton, Texas, a progressive community with two universities. The music scene is one of the best in the country with plenty of places to catch a jazz ensemble or an indie rock band around town. Films screen at cinema venues throughout town. Music stages and photography galleries are all located in the downtown area.

Unless otherwise agreed by the Festival in writing, awards will be fulfilled approximately 10-14 weeks after the close of the festival. Any award that includes a certificate of credit will be presented at the Award Ceremony.

Award eligibility is subject to any restrictions or conditions imposed by applicable laws and regulations (international, federal, state or otherwise), and the award recipient is responsible for all applicable taxes, customs, tariffs, insurance and similar charges or costs (if any).

2021 Awards listed in the below Festival sections are subject to change.

Best Feature Documentary
The overall best documentary will be determined by a jury. Only films pre-selected by the festival programming committee will be eligible for this award. The winner will be chosen based on the following characteristics: 1. Be technically and creatively well-rounded and consistent. 2. Contain innovative elements that utilize the array of directorial decisions and creativity including, but not limited to: interview techniques (if there are interviews), narrative flow (traditional or not), overall style and approach to subject matter, as well as interest and importance of the content, subject, and people or things involved in the film. 3. Judges will NOT judge based on personal beliefs about the subject matter itself or any ethical concerns privately held by any one jury member. Feature winner will receive a $15,000 credit with Panavision. Short winner will receive a $5,000 credit with Panavision.
Sponsor: Panavision
Award Value: $15,000, $5,000

Emerging Non-Fiction Filmmaker
This award will go to the documentary filmmaker that shows the most promise for a successful career. Typically this would be a first-time feature filmmaker but it could also be a filmmaker that has a larger body of short film work.
Sponsor: Panavision
Award Value: $5,000

Best Domestic/International Documentary
This award matches the criteria of the Best Feature Award. If the Best Feature is awarded to an International film then this award will be given to the Best Domestic Documentary. If the Best Feature is awarded to a Domestic film then this award will be given to the Best International Documentary.
Sponsor: Panavision
Award Value: $5,000

Denton Award
The Denton Award is a $500 cash or cash value prize for the best feature or short documentary with a 'connection' to Denton County, Texas. A 'connection' can be any tie-in related to the People, Places, and Spirit of Denton County. Here are a few clear-cut examples: the filmmaker was born or currently resides in Denton County, the film's main character was born in or currently resides in Denton County, or the film features a Denton County location or individual city/community. Here are a few not-so-clear-cut examples: the film uses Denton County locations but they aren't featured or identifiable, the film's subject matter deals with a topic or issue currently affecting the people of Denton County, or the film's subject went to school in Denton County. All of the above examples would be eligible for this award. The criteria are meant to be broadly applied; but if you have a question send us an e-mail.
Award Value: $500

Best Student Short Doc Award
The Best Student Short Doc Award is based on the same criteria used in the Thin Line Best Documentary Award except it only applies to short documentaries which are labelled as a Student project in your submission. Student projects are only eligible for student awards.
Award Value: $500

Submission fees are in US Dollars and are non-refundable. Thin Line reserves the right to disqualify a submission, without a refund or credit, if eligibility requirements are not met or if eligibility status changes. Each entry must be accompanied by the appropriate fee. One submission is defined as one film, one band or musician, and one photo. Submission fees may be paid by credit card only (Visa, MasterCard, Discover).

NOTE: Students get 50% off submission fees. Your submission must be flagged as 'student' and your submission profile must include a photo/copy of your student ID. Any issues email

-Student works are accepted.
-Entrant confirms and warrants required legal authority to submit the entry into the Festival and to use all music, images, and content in the entry.
All entrants will be notified by e-mail or phone of their submission status on or around February 1, 2021.
Multiple entries are allowed. If submitting multiple works across different festivals (Film & Photo, etc); you will be required to submit two transactions, one for each festival.
-Make sure to tell us any special info about you or your submission. Some key points could be that you are a Texas-based artist. Or does your work have anything to do with the University of North Texas, Texas Woman's University, or Denton County?
-All three festivals accept (and prefer) digital submission materials.
-Submission materials will not be returned.

If You Are Selected

-You must execute a release agreement wherein you (i) accept responsibility for obtaining any and all clearances necessary to exhibit your film, photo, or music at Thin Line 2021; (ii) warrant that you have the rights necessary to exhibit your film, photo, or music at Thin Line 2021; and (iii) indemnify and hold harmless Thin Line Fest, its parent company, its affiliates, and subsidiaries and any of their respective directors, officers, employees, and representatives against any claim arising out of exhibition of your film, photo, or music at Thin Line 2021.
-You must authorize Thin Line Fest to exhibit your selected work during the 2021 festival.
-You must authorize Thin Line Fest to use your selected work for festival promotion purposes.
-You must deliver to the festival (i) one exhibition copy of the invited film in DCP format; and (ii) any marketing or press materials.
-All filmmakers are encouraged to attend their screening whether virtually or in person based on possible in person screenings TBD.
-You must agree to a radius restriction of 30 days and 50 miles. Any other screening of your film within those limits must be approved by the festival in writing.

Invited Works/Artists

-Thin Line, at its sole discretion, may invite select films/musicians/photographers to participate in the festival.

Overall Rating
  • Thin Line deserves so much credit for being possibly the first festival in 2020 to switch to an online screening format last minute due to Covid. And they pulled it off beautifully. The screenings had a chat box, which was especially cool during the Q&A section. There were some truly stunning award winning documentaries screening at Thin Line, and it was such an honour to have We Are The Prototypes be a part of it.

    September 2020
  • Kristi Tethong

    So happy to have participated in the Thin Line Fest with my film The Visit. Thank you for carrying on despite Coronavirus - hope to see you in person one day.

    August 2020
  • Giovanna Giovanini

    Amazing festival with great line up. ;)

    April 2020

    This festival in amazingly run. Very organized and the communication was great! The festival truly supports documentarians as shown by the generous prizes awarded and sponsored by Panavision. This year during COVID-19, they could have easily cancelled the festival. However, they worked tirelessly to bring it online and ended up having the largest audience in the history of the festival. They even arranged to have filmmakers on Zoom for a Q&A with the audience after their screening. It was a true example of supporting filmmakers and forging on even when sheltering at home. Denton, TX is a vibrant college town and I hope I can physically attend the festival next year. If you are a serious documentarian you MUST submit to this festival. You will not be disappointed.

    April 2020
  • We were so happy to be a part of this festival! The communication was very organized from start to finish and we enjoyed being part of the local Texas programming at this creative fest.

    April 2019