About MDFF

Like many film festivals in Australia, the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival had very humble beginnings. MDFF started off as a small, young, fun, experimental film festival incubated at local art space (to make documentary accessible to everyone) and has gone on to become one of the biggest showcases of documentary and factual filmmaking in Australia via its filmmaking competition. When we started back in 2016 we really wanted to make the genre, modern, progressive, open to everyone and make the genre more broadbased and popular, back in 2016 documentary was considered very geeky, nerdy, bookish, elitist, pretencious and niche with the only documentary series on Australian network TV being Body Hack. We really wanted to make documentary, fun, interesting and appealing, particuarly for young people by playing music, video game, true crime, animated cult, mockumentay and sports documentaries. Now, nearly 5 years later documentary is now one of the hottest genres and highest rated draws on television and also at the local cinema (largely due to Netflix). Music documentaries play at local bars and clubs around Melbourne, double features play the local cineplex and a real documentary scene has emerged, here in Melbourne (which we have played a small but pivotal role in). Our team work exceptionally hard to support the industry and put in hundreds and hundreds of hours each year to help the local and international documentary sector and are one of the only documentary festivals in the world to raise money for charity.

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.

Four times now, The Melbourne Doc Fest has been rated as a Top 100 Film Festival on FilmFreeway and has consistently been ranked in the top 2% of the over 6,000 film festival in the world over the last 3 years.

The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is currently rated as the Documentary Film Festival of the Year (2018) by FilmDaily and 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 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:

Screenings at the Festival


Each year we programme, Masterclasses, Seminars and Talks geared towards helping Documentary Filmmakers get ahead. Previous classes have included:


Over the last 3 years we have seen documentaries that we have featured go on to be picked up by the following:

2018 saw 4 feature documentaries make the Oscar longlist, one of the highest of any documentary-only film festival in Australia.


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 [email protected] 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, Video Essays 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

Successful Short Entries to the Competition

Unsuccessful entries

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.

All selected documentaries, web-series, video essays will be played in a cinema and converted into high definition DCP at our cost.