Melbourne Documentary Film Festival (7)


24 Aug 2021
Call for entries

31 Jan 2022
Early deadline

28 Feb 2022
Standard deadline

28 Mar 2022
Late deadline

16 May 2022
Extended deadline


16 Jul 2022
Notification date

01 Jul 2022
31 Jul 2022


gpo 4007,  3000, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Festival description
Short film festival 41'<
Feature film festival >42'

Festival requirements
 Film festival
 Music Video
 Any Genre
 Any Theme
 Has submission fees
 International Festival
 Physical Location
 January 2013
 Production countries: Any
 Shooting countries: Any
 Director nationalities: Any
 Debut Films 
 School projects 
 Short Films  41'<
 Feature Films  >42'
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Photo of Melbourne Documentary Film Festival
Photo of Melbourne Documentary Film Festival

Photo of Melbourne Documentary Film Festival
Photo of Melbourne Documentary Film Festival


Festival start: 01 July 2022      Festival end: 31 July 2022

2022 Submissions Now Open

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is a popular and beloved institution and has grown over the last 6 years to become an important and essential Australian film festival, showcasing the world's best and most innovative cutting edge documentaries. If accepted you are guaranteed to be part of an incredible, world class line up. Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is a forerunner event in July before Melbourne's premier event Melbourne International Film Festival which starts is in August. Join us as we make the comeback, the fightback against Covid-19 and bring business back to Melbourne in 2021 for the inevitable and triumphant return to cinema. Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is a festival where you and your documentary are the star of our festival! Which thousands and thousands and thousands of people attend each year.

What We Are Looking For:
International and Australian Features, Short, VR documentaries, Video Essays and Documentary Web Series to showcase in our competition in Melbourne, Australia in 2021.

About The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival:
- Premiered over 500 documentaries in Australia
- 4 x Best in the World Documentary Film Festival - Film Daily
- 1 x Best in the Southern Hemisphere Documentary Film Festival - GuideDoc
- In 2020 we created the Southern Hemisphere's biggest online documentary film festival with over 102 documentaries showcased
- Australia's first competitive documentary film festival to go online
- The biggest documentary film festival in the southern hemisphere on Facebook and Twitter
- The only documentary film festival in the world to raise money for charity
- Has brought hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Melbourne economy over the last 5 years
- Thousands of dollars of travel subsides paid out over the last 5 years
- Thousands of dollars hiring out local venues, cinemas and art spaces in Melbourne, Australia
- Thousands of dollars in screening fees paid out over the last 5 years
- Thousands of dollars in prize money paid out over the last 5 years
- Thousands of dollars raised for local, Australian charities over the last 5 years
- Thousands of dollars supporting Australian Radio Stations, Australian Film Critics and Writers over the last 5 years
- Thousands of dollars supporting Filmmakers and Volunteers to attend the Australian International Documentary Conference
Thousands of dollars putting on Masterclasses, parties and functions for Filmmakers and Volunteers to attend.

Over the course of the past 5 years, Melbourne Documentary Film Festival has become established as a rare treasure in the crowded and increasingly homogenous festival scene, without remaining in the slipstream.

Our sixth edition of our young, though quite well-known film event in the circuit promises also to add again to our own line-up of discoveries

Our festival might still be new, but it’s quickly rising to become one of the most well-respected and thought-provoking festivals in the world. Curating features from the world’s biggest and most prestigious global showcases, Melbourne Documentary Film Festival provides a leading platform for the most inventive creative nonfiction films of today.

We are currently recruiting for the world's finest documentary filmmakers + video essayists and the world's best documentaries/video essays to go head-to-head in our festival competition in Melbourne, Australia in 2020. We are looking for exclusive World, Australian or Melbourne premieres. for feature documentaries to showcase in our competition. Let our 45 media partners, and publicist get behind and help promote YOU and YOUR project Down Under and get just the right momentum and exposure behind your project launch in Australia.

Melbourne Documentary Film Festival (MDFF) is currently ranked for the 5th time in the top 2% of all film festivals in the world # 1 Documentary Film Festival in the World for the 2nd time on Film Daily and is unofficially Australia's best indie documentary film festival and proudly independent. Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is the only documentary film festival in Australia to have a short documentary featured in the festival picked up by Netflix our selecting the documentary directly contributed to this short becoming a Netflix Original. Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is also now the biggest documentary-only festival in the Southern Hemisphere on Facebook and Twitter.

VR coming in 2020! MDFF is excited to announce we have partnered with Melbourne's Virtual Reality Cinema to offer - VR / 360 Degree and Augmented Reality docos in competition in 2020!

The Hottest Postcode:
Melbourne, Australia has consistently been voted one of the worlds happiest and most livable cities. Our competition represents a great opportunity and reason to visit Australia. This year we had 41 guests to our festival from overseas and across Australia. Which was a combination of the festival paying for the filmmakers to attend, filmmakers paying for themselves to attend, consulates, embassies and film commissions paying for filmmakers to attend and people crowd funding to attend. The festival is a great networking opportunity.

The Coolest Cinemas:
Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is currently part of the Cinema Nova family of festivals including Transitions Film Festival, Melbourne Queer Festival, Monster Fest. Cinema Nova is one of Australia's best cinema's and is the southern hemispheres largest independent cinema with 16 screens in inner city Melbourne and one of the coolest cocktail bars around. All feature, shorts, video essays and documentary web series in competition will be played in DCP on a 4k projector at 24 FPS in Dolby surround sound. The cinema's we will be utilizing for the competition will be 147 to 240 seat capacity. All Q&A's will be conducted by a Film Critics Circle of Australia or Australian Film Critics Association member. We even have curated cocktails at the cinema bar and unmissable parties and networking events.

The Virtual Reality Cinema is Melbourne's dedicated VR cinema and allows us to showcase VR, 360, Augmented Reality and potentially installation documentaries.

The Toughest Competition:
Go head-to-head in Melbourne, Australia and test your mettle with the worlds best, and most prestigious documentary film schools and film festivals like Tribecca, Sundance, Sydney Film Festival, TIFF, Venice Film Festival, American Documentary Film Festival, Raindance, Slamdance, Sheffield Doc Fest, Hot Docs, New Zealand International Film Festival, Traverse City Film Festival Doc NYC, SXSW, CPH:Dox, IDFA and many more. You're in it to win it.

What We Offer:
Masterclasses, Awards and panel discussions are all free to attend for our filmmakers. All successful filmmakers are free to watch any documentaries in the festival at no cost and unsuccessful filmmakers get a complimentary double pass to any documentary session in the festival.

Make it Australian:
The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is an encouraging and supportive platform for local filmmakers and commits to playing at least 40% Australian content in our 2020 fest to support the local industry. Screen Australia, Film Victoria, Create NSW, Screen West, Screen QLD, Screen NT, Screen Tasmania, Documentary Australia Foundation, AIDC, Goodpitch Australia productions are encouraged to apply. MDFF wants to have the very best Australian competition we can from local industry and indie talent. SBS, NITV and ABC productions are also eligible to apply to compete, provided that the production submitted contains new material and is effectively a directors cut.

Melbourne Stories:
We are looking for high quality feature, shorts, VR, web series and video essays made in Melbourne by Melburnians, telling Melbourne stories to showcase in our 2020 competition. The festival represents a great opportunity to attend masterclasses, meet, network and compete against the best local Australian talent.

Points of Difference:
The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is a modern and progressive take on documentary and is the only Australian documentary film festival to have VR / 360 Degree documentaries, Documentary Web Series, Documentary Photography and Video Essay in competition. Our Doc Challenge is an inter-university film school competition and a first for an Australasian doco fest.

A Fantastic Prize Pool:
Total prize pool for 2020 in cash and prizes will be over 10k. With one documentary session that will be used to raise money for a specific cause or charity TBD. As well as winning Melbourne's top honors.

Go To Festival
Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is a go to festival for The Atlantic, Time Magazine, Curiosity Stream, Al Jazerra, ESPN to premiere their documentaries in Australia

The Finest Talent:
Each year the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival features documentaries that have been directed, produced, narrated, starring or distributed by the likes of Werner Herzog, Francis Ford Coppola, Leonardo Di Caprio, Alex Winter, Jack Thompson, Noam Chomsky, Barbara Kopple, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, Susan Sarandon, Grace Jones, Madonna and Sharon Stone. Where all the cool documentary filmmakers premiere.

Music Documentaries:
Over the last 4 years we have showcased music documentaries about Men at Work, Tommy Emmanuel, Placebo, Grace Jones, The Sonics, Agnostic Front, George Michael, Van Duran, Terry Pendergrass, Ronnie Wood, the Velvet Underground, Strange Tenants, Head Like a Hole, Swans amongst many others.

The Best Festival:
Five times now, The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival has been rated as a Top 100 film Festival and has consistently been ranked in the top 2% of the over 7,000 film festival in the world over the last 5 years.

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is currently rated as the Documentary Film Festival of the Year (2018) and (2019) by FilmDaily.
Named Top Documentary Film Festival in the Southern Hemisphere on Guide Doc

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival premieres, screens and showcases more quality local Australian and International documentaries each year than any other documentary only film festival in Australia and gives more talented Indie Filmmakers a chance to compete and screen to a big, receptive audience in Melbourne, Australia. The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is consistently featured on SBS, ABC, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, Time Out, Concrete Playground, and Weekend Notes and had additional short documentaries featured in Federation Square.

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival presents a unique opportunity and supportive platform to showcase YOUR documentary, down under in one of the coolest and most liveable cities in the world, Melbourne, Australia.

What matters to us most is that documentaries are well-made, compelling, thought provoking, passionate and relevant to Australian audiences. The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is very much a filmmaker’s film festival.

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is one of the world newest documentary film festivals and one of the most fun and interesting stopovers on the international documentary film festival circuit. All our international guests genuinely have a good time at the festival, as well as seeing the sites of Melbourne.

Our mission is to discover and promote independent Australian documentaries, and to showcase the best international documentaries to Melbourne audiences. The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival provides a public forum and encouraging and supportive platform to allow emerging filmmakers to showcase their work.

Our values:
We want to highlight and promote all documentaries, but in particular:
• Documentaries from Women in Film
• Aboriginal and Indigenous documentaries
• Asian cinema
• LGBTI documentaries
• Against Ageism
• Against Bullying

Screenings at the Festival:
84% of films screened at the festival are from film submissions
16% are from distributors

Fee waivers
We offer 30 free fee waivers per season at our discretion.

Each year we programme, Masterclasses, Panel Discussions, Seminars and Talks geared towards helping Documentary Filmmakers get ahead. Previous classes have included:
1: History of New Zealand documentary a personal journey with Costa Botes
2: Asian documentary with Nick Torrens
3: VOD and distributions with Beama Films
4: Crowdfunding for documentary with Pozible
5: Self-Distribution with Fanforce
6: Making the Great Australian Music Documentary
7: Making a Personal Documentary
8: Making LGBTIQ and Aboriginal Documentaries

Over the last 5 years we have seen documentaries that we have featured go on to be picked up by the following:
9 Feature documentaries picked up by Netflix
9 Feature documentaries that became Oscar eligible
5 Documentaries that had limited theatrical runs in Australia
5 documentaries on iWonder
4 Documentaries picked up by Redbull.TV
2 Documentaries picked up by Sky Television in NZ
2 on Qantas inflight entertainment
2 on Emirates inflight entertainment
2 Documentaries picked up by ABC Compass
1 Documentary picked up by National Geographic
1 60 Second Documentaries
1 Great Big Story
1 SBS ondemand
1 Short Documentary picked up by Netflix
1 Documentary on West Jet inflight entertainment
1 Amazon Prime

The money we raise through sponsorship and submissions goes back into the Melbourne economy as a direct subsidy helping venues, printers, hotels and media partners that rely heavily on events like ours and plays a vital role in generating business and supporting local bars, restaurants and cinemas over the quiet, winter months.

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival aims to feature the freshest and most innovative documentaries from around the world, from short docs right through to feature length, award winning films. The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival looks to promote the best quality independent documentaries cinema has to offer.

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival team looks forward to bringing you a diverse, challenging slate of documentaries that will entertain, educate and inform, providing our audience with a memorable experience, so lets go make some Melbourne film history together.

At this stage we are still working towards our July festival dates and will make a final decision whether to screen in late May or whether we will instead postpone the festival until December. If there are any questions, feel free to email us at

Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is the ONLY Australian documentary film festival open for 2021. If due to Covid-19 or any other such event in 2021 we will postpone the festival and do one online screening and one cinema screening when it is safe to do so the documentaries would be geo-blocked to Australia and online for no longer than a month.

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is a competitive film festival and has 15 award categories, known as the Australian Documentary Awards, which you can enter, they include:

Pool A
Short Awards
Supreme Jury Prize Short Documentary
Best International Short Documentary or Webseries
Best Australian Short Documentary or Webseries
Best VR Short Documentary
Best Short Director – International /Australia

Pool B
Feature Awards
Supreme Jury Prize Feature Documentary
Best International Documentary
Best Australian Documentary
Audience Choice
Best Director – International / Australia
Best Melbourne Documentary

Pool C
Documentary Photography Awards
Supreme Jury Prize Documentary Photograph
Best International Documentary Photograph
Best Australian Documentary Photograph
Best Documentary Photographer
Supreme Jury Prize Award (Feature and Short) - $1,500
Best Australian Short Documentary - $1,500
Best International Short Documentary - $1,500
Supreme Jury Prize Award - Photography - $500
Best Director - $500
Other prizes TBA June 2022



Please note The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival supports MIFF and AIDC but is independent and not part of either organization.

These rules (the “Rules”) apply to all submissions to The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival Inc (“MDFF”). By submitting your film (the “Film”) for consideration for inclusion in the festival operated by MDFF (the “Festival”), you (the “Applicant” or “You”) hereby agree to be bound by these Rules.


1. Submission

1.1 MDFF will consider each submission received (a “Submission”) against the Eligibility Criteria (defined below).
1.2 A Film which does not meet the Eligibility Criteria as of the date of screening will not be screened.
1.3 MDFF may, at its absolute discretion, decide to accept a submission which meets the Eligibility Criteria, but is not obliged to screen any particular Film at the Festival even if the Film meets the Eligibility Criteria. MDFF reserves the right to change a decision to screen a Film at its discretion.
1.4 A decision made by MDFF to accept or refuse to screen a Film is final. Under no circumstances will MDFF refund any submission fees paid. Please ensure you check all dates, currency conversions and associated costs before submitting your documentary there will be no refund. Due to the amount of submission received individual feedback is not possible, but we can suggest registering for our next Documentary Open Mic by emailing
1.5 Successful applicants will be contacted in late May or early June 2022.
1.6 Successful applicants will be forwarded a copy of the MDFF Screening Agreement. Submissions from successful applicants who do not agree to the MDFF Screening Agreement will not be screened.
1.8 You acknowledge that MDFF does not pay screening fees to applicants.

2. Eligibility

2.1 A Submission is eligible if all of the following conditions are met:
a. The Submission is received before the due date of 31st May 2022
b. Documentaries that commenced production from no earlier than 1st January 2013;
c. The Film has never been, and will not be before 12 July 2020, released on DVD, freely available online or theatrically released other than on Fanforce (however, the Festival may at its discretion accept Films which have been theatrically released or previously screened at other festivals) exceptions to this are Video Essays, Documentary Web Series and some Short documentaries, ABC, SBS, NITV feature documentaries which must contain new material;
d. The Film is in English or contains English subtitles; and
e. The Submission accompanied by the applicable submission fee
(the “Eligibility Criteria”).
2.2 MDFF prefers that Films be submitted for assessment for our competition via Film Freeway, Doc Film Depot or Fest Home or secure YouTube or Vimeo screeners with submission fees sent to paypal!

3. Return of Materials

3.1 Materials submitted will not be returned. We strongly recommend that you do not submit original materials.

4. Warranty

4.1 By submitting your Film, you warrant that:
a. You are free to submit the Film to the Festival;
b. The Film meets the Eligibility Criteria; and
c. You have obtained all necessary clearances in respect of the Film and the Film does not infringe the rights (including without limitation copyright) of any third party.

5: Specs:

Feature, Short, Video Essay, will be played in DCP at 24FPS (not 25 FPS)
360 / VR Docs
-360 microscopic
-4k resolution, 2 by 1 aspect.

-Stereo-Attached to the .mp4 video
-Spatial- Separate file Audio.tbe (41khz only) Video in this case to have no audio attached.

Good luck filmmakers!



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