The Documentary Film Festival List

Documentary film festival: the genre in which authenticity and controversy play the main role. For FilmFestivalLife’s new list we tried to cover all continents and as many regions as possible.

As usual, we have created handy shortlists for the must have festivals, the important ones and those you should keep on the radar

In addition to our own festival experience, an extensive research and hints from generous filmmaker colleagues, we have applied following criteria whether to include a festival or not:

  • dedicated exclusively to documentaries or a clearly defined focus on documentaries,
  • a respectable international or at least national reputation,
  • a special degree of commitment to and active promotion of the genre.

The list isn’t exhaustive; lots more interesting festivals have documentaries in their programmes, e. g., the big players Cannes, Sundance or Berlinale – which we didn’t include, as obvious targets for any filmmaker. We tried to compile a cross section of those festivals which sole or main focus is the documentary film; festivals you definitely shouldn’t be missing as a documentary filmmaker. Feel free to help us complete the list over time sharing your experience in the comments.

FilmFestivalLife’s special thanks go to Ilse van Velzen from IFPRODUCTIONS, a documentary filmmaker from the Netherlands and experienced film festival attendee, for reviewing and approving the list.

Now, enjoy browsing our new DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL LIST over @FFLSign up to FFL (costless and quick) and get access to our curated festival’s directory!

Nadine Baethke

Nadine Baethke is the Festival Liaison Director and co-founder at FFL. Her film training is grounded in AV media Science at the Konrad Wolf Academy of Film and Television, Potsdam. Her editorial background includes positions as Sports Editor of RBB, Berlin, Editor at the Galileo TV science magazine Pro 7, Berlin and a degree from the Journalism School of Berlin. Reach her at

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