• Rough Cut Retreat will take place July 23-28 at The Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselaerville, New York.
  • Five feature films will be chosen to participate, and two members from each filmmaking team will be invited to attend.
  • Five mentors, in addition to True/False and Catapult hosts, will be present at the event.
  • Domestic travel, lodging and food will be booked and covered for filmmaking teams, a modest travel stipend will be made available to teams traveling internationally.


  • Applications for the 2022 Rough Cut Retreat have closed. Any questions can be directed to
  • Projects will be notified of decision on or by June 3rd, 2022.
  • If selected, a screener link of the film’s rough cut must be submitted by July 16th and a digital file (quicktime .mov, .mp4. or equivalent suitable for projection) must be provided by July 19th.


Launched in 2016 by the True/False Film Fest and the Catapult Film Fund, RCR unites nonfiction filmmakers and mentors for five days of screening and discussion. The seventh annual Rough Cut Retreat will take place July 23-28, 2022 at The Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselaerville, New York, and is presented in partnership with the Chicago Media Project, who share Catapult and True/False’s passion for supporting bold and creative new nonfiction filmmaking.

While past RCR projects have been wildly different in form, there are a few common traits. First, projects need to be far enough along to make group viewing beneficial (scene collections do not work) but not so polished that they can’t be pulled apart and reconfigured if needed. Production should be at least 98% finished – while some projects have screened with a missing scene or two, more than that is likely a sign that you’re not ready for the retreat. True/False and Catapult prioritize work that displays an ambitious, idiosyncratic approach – films can be about anything, but are always engaged with the form of nonfiction storytelling.  

The Rough Cut Retreat was built with a focus on filmmakers who do not have established feedback networks. This can be for any number of reasons, including filmmakers who are relatively early in their careers and thus haven’t yet built a support network of peers. That said, If it’s helpful to have some concrete terms –

if you’ve already made two or more features, then RCR is almost certainly not for you. If you can text one or more Oscar nominees and ask them to watch a cut of your film, the RCR is also probably not for you.

Only projects with a realistic projection of a rough cut by mid July will be considered – Assemblies and Works-In-Progress are welcome at the time of application if you will have a <2.5 hour rough cut in time for the retreat. It is in no one’s best interest to be overly ambitious here – in fact, it can be almost detrimental to the process to share a film for this type of feedback too early. 

If the cut you bring to the retreat is over 2.5 hours, it will cut into the time allotted for group discussion of your project. Each project will have a set amount of time in the retreat schedule regardless of run time. With the current format of the Retreat, we cannot consider episodic content. 

Applying to the Rough Cut Retreat is free! You’ll complete the application form, with two paragraphs describing your film and an online screener link of 5-10 minutes that best represents the project. Scenes are always better than sizzle reels. Longer work samples will be considered at the jurors’ discretion, but the first 10 minutes of all entries will always be watched. We will contact finalists for follow up calls in May, and at that point we will ask you to send your longer cut. Those longer samples will be evaluated for fit and final decisions will happen no later than June 3rd.

Try to select a sample that encapsulates the soul of the film. By that we mean something that tells us something about you as a director and your story as a piece of cinema.

Each invited project is assigned a “primary” mentor in advance of the retreat. That mentor will watch your film ahead of time and serve as an “older sibling” as you navigate the retreat. But, by design, all mentors work with all filmmakers over the course of the retreat. Mentors are not there to tell you “how” to make any changes, but more “guide” you to amplify your inner voice.

Each day we screen one or two projects and have long, in-depth group discussions about the projects. We include a lot of time for walks, swims, and casual conversations. Peppered throughout the retreat you’ll also have a series of one-on-one meetings with all of the mentors. And, of course, documentary fishbowl. 

Short answer is “NO.” 

While the RCR is a project of True/False & Catapult, there’s no obligation to screen your films at True/False (though we certainly hope you apply) – and there should be no expectation of additional Catapult support following the retreat. RCR projects, when they do apply to T/F, are screened by programmers who haven’t seen previous cuts. 

For selected films, we ask that the Rough Cut logo be included in the final film. 

The RCR is, first and foremost, for directors. This is your chance to step away from your edit and get a sense of what other people are seeing in your film. We strongly discourage any editing at the retreat—instead take this time to try and gain perspective on your next steps. With all that said, you’ll know best whether you should attend solo or with an Editor or Producer.

No. However, travel stipends for Rough Cut Retreat are for domestic (US) travel only, so you would have to get yourself stateside to attend.


If anything is not covered in the FAQ, contact [email protected] with questions!

For more info about past retreats, see our main Rough Cut page