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Early Bird Deadline:    Mar 26    ($60)

Regular Deadline:      May 21    ($75)

Late Deadline:            Jun  25   ($85)

Extended Deadline:    Jul     9   ($95)



All applicants are subject to the same rules and entry fees. DOCNIFF does not waive entry fees but may, at its sole discretion, offer discounted pricing.



The following rules govern all film submissions to the Documentary Now International Film Festival (hereafter “DOCNIFF” or the “Festival”)


  1. All applicants must submit their films through

  2. All films must be in the English language or be accompanied by  English subtitles at time of submission.

  3. It is recommended that submitted films, or “screeners,” are password-protected. But note, however, that changing the password once submitted risks disqualification.

  4. DOCNIFF screens films as digital files during the Festival and does NOT screen films on Blu-Ray, HD-CAM, or DCP. Do not submit your film if you are unable to meet this requirement.

  5. Films must have been finalized after January 1, 2020 and made available to DOCNIFF at least ten (10) days prior to the Festival event date.  

  6. Films can only be submitted one time for DOCNIFF’s consideration.

  7. Films that have US distribution prior to the Festival event date and films produced, financed or initiated by a major film studio or television network are eligible for screening but ineligible for competition. Selection for screening will be made one month prior to the Festival. Films that have screened on US network or cable television or distributed to theaters prior to the festival dates are also eligible for screening but ineligible for competition.

  8. Films which are making their New York premieres are given priority over films that have been presented to a New York public audience elsewhere.  ‘New York’ here is defined as the New York metropolitan area. While premieres are not required, DOCNIFF favors World, North American, and US premieres. If a film is screened online for the first time as part of a festival’s program, that premiere screening will be considered local to the host festival’s physical address.

  9. DOCNIFF reserves the right in its sole discretion to reject or disqualify an entry without offering an explanation or a refund.



  1. Films must be the original work of the applicants. If a film is based upon another person’s life or book or other underlying work, the applicant must secure the necessary rights to make such adaptation. It is not necessary to submit the adaptation rights agreements to the Festival, however. Neither the Festival nor its jurists investigates or attests to the authenticity of an applicant’s statement of authorship or rights secured. By entering the competition, the applicant represents that all necessary rights have been secured.

  2. Applicants are also responsible for obtaining necessary rights and permissions for use of third-party content incorporated in their film, including but not limited to music, trademarks, logos, copyrights, and other intellectual property. DOCNIFF disclaims any and all liability or responsibility for any such infringement.



Submitted Films may be works-in-progress, but applicants should indicate in a cover letter which elements are incomplete (e.g. color-correction remains, sound mixing in progress, etc.).

Further, films either shot in New York or produced in New York by New York filmmakers are encouraged to indicate such in a cover letter.



  • DOCNIFF has no obligation to disclose any of the following information: identities of screeners or judges; notes, feedback, or information relating to the submitted project; details regarding the submission review or selection process.

  • DOCNIFF disclaims any liability or responsibility for any DNIFF staff/volunteer  comments, notes, or opinions expressed about any submission.

  • Winners will be announced within two weeks after the Festival event.

  • Winners receiving cash prizes are solely responsible for payment of all applicable local, state, and federal taxes.

For questions please see our FAQ here. Or if you still need assistance, email

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