Presented by the esteemed Parajanov-Vartanov Institute, DOC LA [Los Angeles Documentary Film Festival] will screen and award outstanding films by students, emerging auteurs, and established masters to give Angelenos an opportunity to see great examples of World and American cinema, and to bring the students and the master filmmakers together to inspire and learn from one another. DOC LA furthers the mission of the annual Parajanov-Vartanov Institute Awards established in 2010.

DOC LA doesn’t require a Los Angeles premiere for short films, but we prefer it for features. And, although the festival’s focus is documentary and short cinema, we will program films of any genre and length whenever we discover unique or charming work. We are also enthusiastic about unusual, strange and unclassifiable films since the festival presenting institute is named after the renowned nonconformists Sergei Parajanov (1924-1990) and Mikhail Vartanov (1937-2009), who overcame censorship, persecution and low budgets, and earned praise for their daring point of view from many of cinema’s greatest luminaries.

The festival’s programmer is their disciple and UCLA alumnus Martiros Vartanov, who has served as a curator and juror at festivals in Busan and Beverly Hills and worked on the restoration of the The Color of Pomegranates selected for Festival de Cannes. He also presents the institute's annual awards whose recipients include Academy Award ® winning director Martin Scorsese, Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan, French cinema icon Jean Vigo, Oscar ® winning actresses Emma Thompson, Marion Cotillard and Susan Sarandon, as well as Mark Ruffalo, Usher, Emilio Rivera, Alfred Molina, Angela Bassett and the Grammy-winning rock band System Of A Down.

Best Documentary Award
Best Short Documentary Award
Best Student Film Award (Gold, Silver, Bronze)

DOC LA, at its discretion, may award cash prizes and special awards:

Directing Award
Cinematography Award
Screenwriting Award
Editing Award
Composer Award
Producer Award
Animation Award
Audience Award
Experimental Award


January - September 2019.


On rolling basis, and by appx 30 September 2019.


DOC LA must receive the screening copy of your film within 7 days from notification of acceptance.


Student films: any length.
Short films: 1 to 15 min.
Mid-Length films: 16-39 min.
Features: 40 min and up.

DOC LA accepts online screeners only (Vimeo, FilmFreeway player etc)..

By submitting to Los Angeles Documentary Film Festival (DOC LA) you understand and agree that:

a). if your film is selected, it cannot be withdrawn for any reason.

b). that you will provide DOC LA with the screening copy of your film (MOV/Quicktime file, or DCP, or Bluray) within 7 days from notification of acceptance. The festival reserves the right to change any dates, deadlines, terms, and venues at its sole discretion.

c). that the festival will not be held liable in case your exhibition materials are lost, stolen or damaged, or for any claims arising from improperly secured rights/permissions for your film.

d). that you have all the necessary rights/permissions for your film.

Overall Rating
  • Steve Wystrach

    I felt truly honored to have my film, MANRY AT SEA, invited to DOCLA, definitely one of the best experiences I had among the two dozen festivals the film toured. A shining example of a well-run, filmmaker-centric festival (a lot of them are not). It’s the only one in which the festival director called me multiple times to coordinate my participation – what – a festival director calls you?

    Max put together an inspired roster of films. They were all produced by truly independent, mostly first-time filmmakers - no big-name established filmmakers. Personally, I thought a couple of films were a little rough around the edges and probably didn't receive many invitations, but they were all fascinating to see for a whole host of reasons. That's very gratifying to directors of personal, though somewhat offbeat films. And really, aren't those the kinds of films we all aspire to? Very cool, indeed.

    Normally, if a film screens early in a festival, most filmmakers can’t afford to hang around for several days for a closing awards ceremony where you [might] receive an award. Not here. Unique among the festivals I attended, awards were presented at the end of each film screening - not at a single, end-of-festival ceremony - so the audience, which in my case included some friends and family, got to share the experience. That was fun!

    Plus – it’s held at one of Hollywood’s iconic studios, which dates back to 1915. It’s always fun to get onto a studio lot.

    Many kudos and thanks to Max for delivering a first-rate, one-of-a-kind, event.

    September 2019
  • David Trevino

    Doc LA was such a great experience for a first time film maker. Max was on top of everything and answered all my questions very quickly! He took the time to talk to me at the event and we have been in contact ever since.

    June 2019
  • Roser Corella

    Doc LA gave us the chance to premiere the film in Los Angeles, among other interesting films, selected with the criteria of those who really love cinema, out of the commercial and conventional criteria of the industry. We really appreciate that. Good luck for the coming editions!

    March 2019
  • Harry Moses

    We were honored to be selected for DOC LA and to receive an award at the festival. Max is a wonderful host who believes passionately in all the films they select.

    November 2018
  • Kristy Guevara-Flanagan

    What a wonderful festival. Max and the staff were so supportive and gracious, even for our minor little short. The audience was super film literate and the after-showing conversations still stick with us. The programming was sophisticated, thoughtful, and challenging. We see big things ahead for this fest. Thank you!

    November 2018