The world's five best documentary-only film festivals

Jan. 7, 2018

As a new year begins, Guidedoc has selected for you the most important venues of world documentary cinema so that you can start designing your calendar for the upcoming new festival season.

You can check out the Guidedoc's festival page for more great festivals around the world. GuideDoc is a global curated documentary streaming platform where you can watch the world's best award-winning docs from around the world, we add new movies every day


5 - Cinema Du Réel (Paris, France)



Organized by the Public Information Library of Paris, the Cinema Du Reel has the endorsement of having been founded by the legendary filmmakers Jean Rouch and Jean-Michel Arnold in 1978, which gives it an artistic profile within this list. Around 17,000 spectators per year attend the screenings of the 200 films that are shown mainly in the Pompidou Center and other theaters around the city. The festival takes place every March and organizes a series of workshops, seminars and special presentations whose sole purpose is to honor the nature, new explorations and  history of documentary filmmaking.


4 - CPH: DOX (Copenhagen, Denmark)



Being the youngest of the list, having been born in 2003, the Copenhagen International Documentary Festival appears as a fresh and innovative event, values that have quickly given it a privileged position in the arena of global documentary industry. Focused on independent works of new talents, risk and artistic experimentation are perhaps the main characteristics of its selection. The inclusions of hybrid pieces in its catalog, works that flirt with traditional fiction, have even generated some controversy, like when Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers obtained the CPH: DOX Award in 2009. In addition to its innovative permanent programs, one of its new highlights is the program exclusively designed by guest filmmakers, such as Ben Rivers, Animal Collective, Nan Goldin and Harmony Korine himself.


3 - Hot Docs Canadian Documentary Film Festival (Toronto, Canada)



Considered the largest documentary film event in the Americas, HotDocs has a record of attracting around 215,000 people during its 2017 edition. In addition to presenting more than 200 films from around the world each year, the festival pays particular attention to its Doc Shop, a large documentary market that has positioned itself as an essential stop in the documentary industry with the more than 2,000 delegates attending the event on an annual basis. An important property of the festival is the famous Hot Docs Theater Ted Rogers, one of the few documentary-only theaters in the world.


2 - Visions Du Reel (Nyon, Suitzerland)



The history of Visions Du Reel goes back to the year 1969, when it was created with the name of Nyon International Documentary Film Festival and whose purpose was to make accessible films that were difficult to watch at the time, especially those originated from the other side of the Soviet "Iron Curtain". The political motivation that catapulted it as the most important festival of documentary art has evolved to this day, when it remains as a vital meeting place of world documentary cinema. During its beginnings, the festival collaborated closely with great figures of world cinematography such as Joris Ivens, Roman Karmen and Georges Rouquier. Its founder, Moritz De Halden, has later been director of the renowned Locarno International Film Festival, the Berlinale and the Venice International Film Festival.


1 – IDFA: International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (Amsterdam, Netherlands)



The mecca of documentary filmmaking is in Amsterdam. This year the renowned IDFA celebrates 30 years of history and good health, being today the event where all documentary filmmakers would like to release their film. With 200 documentaries screened annually to some 120,000 people, the festival seeks to disseminate creative and high-quality films that represent the most vibrant social and political realities worldwide. Attending every November an IDFA edition also allows us to live a unique experience by being surrounded by documentary film lovers who come from all over the world to interact directly with the directors of all the films that make up its rich program of shorts, mid length and feature documentary films organized in its various sections.


You can watch documentaries from these great festivals now on Guidedoc


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