Melbourne Documentary Film Festival


5th edition

Jul 19 - Jul 29, 2020
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 The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is currently rated as the Documentary Film Festival of the Year (2018) by FilmDaily.

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 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.

The Melbourne Doc Fest each year curates world class features direct from some of the hottest most prestigious documentary film festivals in the world such as Sundance, Raindance, Slamdance, Sheffield Doc Fest, Hot Docs, Venice Film Festival, New Zealand International Film Festival, Traverse City Film Festival Doc NYC, SXSW, Doc Edge, CPH:Dox and IDFA.

Each year we feature documentaries, directed, produced, narrated by or starring celebrities like Madonna, Sharon Stone, Anjelica Huston, Shia La Beouf, Kevin Smith, Grace Jones, George Michel, Doug Liman, Ed Burns, Stellan Skarsgård, Noam Chomsky, Tony Bennett, Mary J Blige, Naomi Campbell, Whitney Houston, Elton John, Nile Rogers, Bryan Ferry, Stevie Wonder, Christy Turlington, Ricky Gervais, James Corden, Jack Thompson, Tom Wilson, Ryan O'Neil and Matthew Modine.

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

The Melbourne Doc Fest 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 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

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

Each year we programme, Masterclasses, 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

Over the last 3 years we have seen:
6 Feature documentaries picked up by Netflix
5 feature documentaries that became Oscar eligible
4 documentaries picked up by Redbull.TV
3 Documentaries that had limited theatrical runs in Australia
1 documentary picked up by National Geographic

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is the only festival in Australasia to provide feedback on submissions (upon request). The feedback is simple, straight forward, positive and constructive (like a review) and gives you an insight into what the curator thought of your documentary. If you are interested in receiving feedback you need to apply separately for it at by no later than 30th April 2019. Feedback will be provided to you by 31 July 2019.
Our categories of Documentary Photography, Documentary Web Series, and Micro Docs and curated sections on Street Art and Animated Documentaries have never been attempted by a documentary film festival in the southern hemisphere and are ground breaking.

Value for money:
While our film submission fee is in line and bench marked against other film festivals, our incentives for the submitter are much higher than your average film festival.

Successful Feature Entries to the Competition:
1 x Open Access Pass to all festival documentaries
10 x tickets to your session at the festival for crew, friends, and family (not redeemable for cash)
Feedback on your documentary
The opportunity to win cash prizes, distribution deals, wine, and DVD’s
Promo code discount for all documentaries showing at the festival
% of the Box Office or % of Box Office donated to charity of your choosing

Successful Short Entries to the Competition:
1 x Open Access Pass to all festival documentaries
5 x tickets to your session at the festival for crew, friends, and family (not redeemable for cash)
Feedback on your documentary
The opportunity to win cash prizes, distribution deals, wine, and DVD’s
Promo code discount for all documentaries showing at the festival

Unsuccessful entries:
Complimentary double pass to selected documentaries at the festival (not redeemable for cash)
Feedback on your documentary
Promo code discount for all documentaries showing at the festival.
If the documentary scores an 8/10 or higher and does not end up being selected for this year’s competition, the filmmaker will be entitled to a fee waiver for a future edition of the festival.

Post-festival service
We try to find other ways to show case selected documentaries at other festivals that we are aligned with, which gives you double the exposure for the same submission price (more value for money) and try to find distribution for you in Australia after you have completely finished your world-wide festival run.

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.

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.
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kindfilmmaker attended as a guest in 2016

/ 5

I attended all 3 days of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival and found it to be well worth my time. I am an avid fan of the documentary genre and I can honestly say that there were some truly excellent films that were shown. It is true that the credits were cut short during the first session of shorts, but after people mentioned it to the manager this did not occur again for the rest of the films that I saw, suggesting the director actually listens to his audience. The selected films were played in a logical order and many of the sessions were well attended. The mix of people attending the screenings was very interesting and I found everyone involved to be very friendly and approachable. I would really like to commend the director for his openess, for his courage for starting this festival, and for his enthusiasm for promoting documentaries. All in all, its an event not to be missed. I look forward to attending again in future years. Michelle Around 3 years ago

MDFF attended as a guest in 2016

/ 5

No additional comment Lyndon Around 3 years ago

carmenholman attended with The Outliers in 2016

/ 5

This was so poorly organised. Films were shown through a laptop and the audience could see the laptop screen projected in between each of the films. Very poor quality screening (used windows media player?!). One film was even shown via the internet and stopped buffering half way through and had to be restarted - so embarrassing! I have passed on my criticism to the organiser but I would advise others in paying the submission fee as it is quite high and I personally felt there was no benefit for me as a filmmaker in entering and having my film screened. There was hardly anyone at the screening either and no industry professionals in sight. This festival is not what it makes itself out to be through its website and marketing. I only write this because I believe the festival should not be charging such high submission fees if they cant deliver a great festival. Hopefully they can make changes for next year but I would not submit again based on my experience. Carmen Around 3 years ago