A new year means a new cycle of documentary film festivals for all those filmmakers wrapping up production and locking final picture.

We all know about the star-studded festivals including Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca, SXSW and IDFA, which can be trajectory altering springboards for a doc especially one that can have a social impact, but there are many other exciting festivals around the world that offer documentarians a chance to shine.

Our friend Jennifer Merin has posted a tremendous list of the Top 25 Documentary Film Festivals that focus on documentaries (with submission deadlines shared!) for 2014 on her blog at About.com, but we have a few more to recommend that didn’t make her list.

For a list of Top Tier Festivals that program both narratives and documentaries, visit PBS’ POV page.

These international festivals, listed below, are part of the Doc Alliance Network.


Visions Du Reel (Festival Dates April-May 2014) Details are not available for the 2015 festival, but stay tuned, the fest has made a name for itself as one of the most important rendez-vous of this speciality cinema, both in Switzerland and on the international scene.

Visions Dud Est (Applications due in May & August)– This festival is meant specifically for Eastern European and International filmmakers, but offers an exciting opportunity to apply for finishing funds to see your documentary or narrative project reach it’s full potential.

International Film Festival – Marseille (Submissions currently closed / Festival dates are July 2014) – Each year 10 international projects are selected, selected with no specific format requirements, length, or subject matter, and including both fiction and documentary films whether they are at the writing stage, in production, or post-production. Different from a market or a platform purely for promotion, FIDLab offers the professional audience a chance to see not only images (locations, rushes, first edits) but also artistic and film influences that may increase our understanding of the work in progress.

Jihlava Documentary Film Festival (Applications due by July 31st / Festival Dates in October 2014) Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival is a celebration of creative documentary film and the largest event of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe.

International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film (Application due March/ Fest dates: November) – With a deadline fast approaching, This unique workshop for documentary films in the rough-cut stage provides half-year long individual mentoring of renowned tutors. Each of the eight selected projects receives great creative input during the editing process and is supported in developing a tailor-made marketing concept and a focused distribution strategy.

And here’s a French festival that programs docs about the environment:

Environmental International Film Festival (February) – This Parisian festival just passed, but there’s always next year and this festival stands out thanks to its free entrance and environmentally conscious focus! Stay tunes for more details for 2015’s festival.

And a new festival, which we are happy to be supporting, programs narratives and docs with socially relevant messages.

Socially Relevant Rated Film Festival – New York (March 2014) SR Rated film festival is a new festival coming to The Quad Cinema in NYC this March 14-20. The festival focuses on socially relevant human stories and raises awareness to social problems by offering positive solutions through the powerful medium of cinema. Rated SR(TM) believes that through raised awareness, expanded knowledge about diverse cultures, and the human condition as a whole, it is possible to create a better world free of violence, hate and crime. For more information: www.ratedsrfilms.org

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!  will be giving a a key note address, “The Impact of Socially Relevant Films”  as well as awarding the Rated SR Social Justice Award starting at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, March 18th.

Tickets are available now.

While you continue on with your research, consider joining the European Documentary Network, a network for filmmakers and documentarians to communicate across the world and keep up to date on the latest festival news!

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