The Documentary Center

The Institute for Documentary Filmmaking

Institute video

*We will not be accepting applications for the Certificate in Documentary Filmmaking for Spring 2021.

There are no other intensive graduate documentary studies programs in the nation like the one here at the George Washington University. The Institute for Documentary Filmmaking is held annually between January and June and leads to a Certificate in Documentary Filmmaking. For 30 years, we have been the only institution that offers this accelerated training and education in nonfiction production. Maintaining a standard of excellence found across all of the programs offered by the School of Media and Public Affairs at GW, the Institute for Documentary Filmmaking has been ranked one of the top ten documentary schools in the nation. 




John Dillon


"A year before graduating from the GW Doc Institute I was a college graduate working a minimum wage job in my hometown with the dream of getting into documentary filmmaking. I had worked on a few independent projects but the Institute provided me with a professional skill set in a matter of months. As Producer at the Doc Institute I learned how to manage a team and produce a film on a deadline. Today I am working as a Video Producer in DC and was lucky enough to film in Afghanistan for a nationally aired PBS documentary."

– John Dillon, Class of 2012

Documentary Center News


  • We will not be accepting graduate certificate program applications for Spring 2021. Full statement
  • 2019 Institute films ONE FALL and All The Rage win Capital Emmys
  • Past Institute films Bow With Me (2018) and ONE FALL (2019) are now availble to stream
  • Nina Seavey's A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America is now streaming for free. 
  • Documentary Center Founder and Director Nina Gilden Seavey is stepping down after 30 years. Read her announcement.  
  • Documentary filmmaker Sara Barger joins the 2020 Institute as co-instructor. Learn more about Sara
  • 2019 program alum, Giselle Hall, has been making news for her documentary production in Syria. Read more.



Our Films

Cover for Parables of War

Parables of War

Parables of War explores the intersection of art with the artist and the ways in which art can help bind the wounds of war -- both for the soldiers themselves and for those they left behind.

Ballad of Bering Straight for Web

The Ballad of the Bering Strait

The Ballad of Bering Strait follows seven Russian teenagers who come to America to become country music stars. This true-life story witnesses the transformation of the band’s members as they wend the torturous path to fame that is littered with deals gone awry, unexpected personal sacrifice, hard-to-win audiences, and a revisioning of the American dream.

Cover for the Matador

The Matador

The Matador is the epic tale of David Fandila's quest to become the world’s top-ranked bullfighter. 
It is a love story - of a son for his family, of a people for their traditions, and of the bullfighter’s paradoxical love for the beast that he must kill to create his art.