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Film Fest of the Week: Melbourne International Documentary Fest

Here at Film Daily we’re crazy for film festivals. Going to your local multiplex is great for pre-packaged, tried & tested safe experiences of the latest blockbusters and Oscar shoo-ins, but you won’t gain the insider knowledge or access to industry superstars anywhere but the festival. A true testament to the experimental & collaborative nature of movie-making, the best fests offer so much more than previews to the year’s best upcoming films.

We want to shine a light on the events outside of the main festival circuit. Places like Cannes, Sundance, and Toronto are world-class, sure, but they can be elitist as hell, havens for the snobbiest of critics, more an exclusive country club than exciting place for movie fans.

Instead, we’re keeping it independent by focusing on smaller fests worth your attention. Launching from our rundown of the best documentary fests, we want to give you a reminder why the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival (MDFF) is our pick for the best of the year, as well as walking you through how you can go about entering.

MDFF emerged from humble beginnings to become one of the most internationally celebrated showcases for thought-provoking, challenging, and revolutionary nonfiction films.

Curating a program from some of the best minds working in documentary film today, last year’s schedule was packed with timely critiques of impending geopolitical disasters, tremendous insights into unexplored pop culture corners, and hypnotic profiles on some of the entertainment industry’s most influential performers.

In under a decade, MDFF has launched itself to worldwide recognition & celebration, consistently placing in the top 2% of some 6,000 or so global film festivals. During its lifetime, the fest has found itself at the top of a number of esteemed rankings, including three appearances in FilmFreeway’s Top 100 Festivals of the Year.

Attracting top-tier prestige talent from all over the world, the fest has nevertheless remained steadfast to its roots. A local festival at its core, MDFF has retained an independent and supportive spirit, taking care to bolster the works of Australian filmmakers all the while, providing an integral platform for the films and crews whose work may have otherwise remained underseen and unappreciated.

Film Daily is taking this opportunity to reach out to amateur filmmakers with a passion for documentary. We strongly recommend making this fest your top pick if you’re looking for a place to submit your passion project; they’re currently open for submissions of features, shorts, web series, and video essays. If you’re looking for a sign to schedule that one last day of shooting or afternoon in the editing room, let this be it and get it finished!

All you need to do is head over to their website and you’ll see a variety of different sites hosting the fest. Take your pick from FilmFreeway, Withoutabox, Festhome and more, and get sending in your masterpiece before the regular deadline of February 25th. As mentioned before, the festival is after documentaries across various media from feature length to short projects, video essays, and web series, so whatever your niche, MDFF has a home for you.

If you can’t get that last edit just right before the 25th, don’t worry. There’s a late deadline at the end of March, and a final, last-minute deadline on April 22nd. The programming this year is especially focused on Asian cinema, LGBTQI & female voices, and indigenous stories, so if you’re an underappreciated filmmaker with something to say and a passionate voice to say it, the festival wants to hear from you.

What are you waiting for? Get shooting, finish your project, and you could find yourself taking center stage in one of Australia’s most receptive and culturally vibrant cities.

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