Melbourne Documentary Film Festival


5th edition

Jul 15 - Jul 26, 2022
Melbourne, Australia

Open Call Open to Public Competitive Market Special Fees

Festival type Real Venue Festival
Types of films Docu-feature, Documentary, Experimental, Hybrids, Multimedia, Narrative fiction
Film length Mid-length, Short
Genre Alternative, Art, Biography, Environmental, Foreign, Human rights, Independent, LGBT, Medical, Mockumentary, Music, News, Parody, Post modern, Realism, Social issues, Transgender, Underground

Mission / description We're taking documentary Down Under! Where you and your documentary are the star of our festival! Which thousands and thousands and thousands of people attend each year.

Over the last 4 years we have premiered over 400 documentaries in Australia. The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is one of the biggest showcases of documentaries in the Southern Hemisphere. 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 fifth 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 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.

Breaking News:
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 Cinema:
Our documentary competition will be held at Cinema Nova, one of Australia's best cinemas. 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 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.

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.

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.

The Best Festival:
Five times now, The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival has been rated as a Top 100 film Festival on FilmFreeway 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

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
4 Documentaries picked up by Redbull.TV
4 Documentaries that had limited theatrical runs in Australia
2 Documentaries picked up by Sky Television in NZ
2 on Qantas inflight entertainment
2 on Emirates inflight entertainment
1 Documentary picked up by National Geographic
1 60 Second Documentaries
1 Great Big Story
1 SBS ondemand

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.

If we are unable to screen our festival in July for any reason we have a contigency plan is to screen the festival in December. All accepted submissions will be played in competition in a cinema in Melbourne.
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Festival website

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Class Founded: 2016
Festival category: C (national relevance, national player)
Dates Open call: Sep 07, 2019

Early bird deadline: Jan 31, 2020
Regular deadline: Feb 28, 2020
Late deadline: May 08, 2020

Notification date: May 31, 2020

Favorite this festival or add it to one of your lists to be alerted about open call, deadlines and notification date.
Fees Fees range from 18.30 to 54.90 USD . See submission categories for details about fees. Submission through FFL is up to 5.10 USD cheaper than on other submission platforms for Film Plan subscribers.
Awards Total prize money: 7,000.00 USD
Other prizes: TBC
Please note The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival supports MIFF and AIDC but is independent and not part of either organisation.

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.
1.5 Successful applicants will be contacted in late May or early June 2020.
1.6 Successful applicants are eligible for six (6) free tickets to selected screenings at the Festival (not redeemable for cash). Unsuccessful applicants are eligible for a double pass to selected screening at the Festival (not redeemable for cash). Applicants must contact to redeem their tickets.
1.7 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 2020
b. Production of the Film was not completed prior to 1 January 2013;
c. The Film has never been, and will not be before 12 July 2017, released on DVD, freely available online or theatrically released other than on (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 in one of the following formats: 16mm, DCP (DCI Compliant), HD CAM, DVD, Blu Ray. All zones are acceptable. MDFF may accept other formats (such as Vimeo): please contact to arrange this.
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, Micro Docs will be played in DCP at 24FPS
360 / VR Docs
-360 microscopic
-4k resoluction, 2 by 1 aspect.

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

Good luck filmmakers!