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A documentary film is “a motion picture that shapes and interprets factual material for purposes of education or entertainment. Documentaries have been made in one form or another in nearly every country and have contributed significantly to the development of realism in films.”  Source: Britannica


Reel Documentary Fans

Are you a documentary enthusiast eager to immerse yourself in the world of captivating real-life storytelling? Look no further! Welcome to Reel Doc Fans, a dynamic and inclusive documentary film group based in Austin, Texas. With over 3,300 dedicated members, we are a vibrant community passionate about the power of documentaries. In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through our film-loving collective, our commitment to supporting local filmmakers, our strong focus on fostering friendships, and our exploration of diverse documentary topics.

The Heart of Reel Doc Fans

At Reel Doc Fans, our core belief is that documentaries are more than just films; they are windows into the world’s complexities, offering insights into the human condition, history, society, and the natural world. Our members come together to celebrate captivating narratives, creating a thriving community of diverse  individuals who share a common love for the art of storytelling through film.

Supporting Local Filmmakers

One of the pillars of our film group is our support for local filmmakers. We understand that these passionate storytellers are the backbone of our industry, and we are committed to helping them thrive. Through film screenings, discussions, and collaborations, we provide a platform for emerging talents to showcase their work.

Building Lasting Friendships

While documentaries bring us together, it’s the friendships we forge that make Reel Doc Fans truly special. We believe that shared interests create bonds that go beyond the cinema screen. Our group events, discussions, and social gatherings offer opportunities to connect with fellow members who share your passion for documentaries.

Exploring Diverse Documentary Topics

Documentaries are incredibly versatile, covering a vast array of topics that spark curiosity and ignite conversation. At Reel Doc Fans, we embrace this diversity wholeheartedly. Our film selections span from socially conscious narratives that challenge the status quo to riveting historical accounts that shed light on forgotten stories. We delve into character studies that offer deep insights into the human psyche and explore fascinating journeys to far-flung corners of the globe. The result? A thought-provoking, eye-opening, and enriching cinematic experience for all.

Engaging with Reel Doc Fans

Joining our documentary film group is easy and comes with a host of benefits. As a member, you’ll gain access to exclusive film screenings, discussions, and events that celebrate the best of the documentary genre. Our engaging blogs keep you updated on the latest releases, film festivals, and local filmmaker showcases. Whether you’re an avid documentary fan or just beginning your cinematic journey, Reel Doc Fans has something for everyone.

Get Connected

Sign-up for our newsletter if you are not a part of our Meet-Up group.  If you are a femme filmmaker, consider being spotlighted.  You will need to fill out a survey Femme Filmmakers Spotlight 

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We’d like to hear from you

Spotlight on the Women Behind the Lens and Beyond

For too long, the significant contributions of women in the film industry have been underseen and often overshadowed. However, throughout cinema’s history, women have persistently carved their niche, weaving poignant tales, creating captivating visuals, and influencing cinematic directions both near and far. Reel Doc Fans is dedicated to spotlighting these unsung heroines. Our collective unites aficionados, filmmakers, and industry experts, emphasizing the monumental achievements of women in film. From crafting mesmerizing stories to pioneering influential film events, these innovators have set unparalleled benchmarks.

Journey with us into the depth of film, relish their compelling narratives, and champion the voices that deserve to be amplified. Dive into the cinematic universe with Reel Doc Fans and let’s celebrate the female force that drives the world of cinema!

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Docs are Special

“In fiction films, there are scripts, drama, and real-life drama, superegos, and big budgets, stars and fanfare. Documentaries can be summed up as a labor of love, minus the money, drama, stars, and egos.” Cara Harpole

Our Story

Over the Years


Reel Doc Fans (AKA Austin Doc Fans)

Cara Harpole takes over the group and starts rebranding it.  Reel Doc Fans becomes its unofficial name.


Over 3,300 members from 464

Our membership grew by leaps and bounds.  We supported filmmakers, hosted events all over Austin.  The highlight of this period was organizing the “Herman’s House” event.


COVID hits, and slowes things down.

Our plans and events came to a dead halt during the beginning of COVID-19. We adjusted like so many other groups and went virtual.


Three groups: Austin, New York, San Diego

We were asked to pick up two film groups that were going to be dissolved-one in New York, and the other in San Diego.  That story has yet to be told.

Who we are

Reel Documentary Fans unites vibrant Meet-Up groups in Austin, New York, and San Diego, boasting a combined membership of over 6,000 avid fans. Our mission revolves around hosting film events that spark lively discussions about social, cultural, artistic, and human topics. Our film selections are not only informative and entertaining but also shed light on pressing concerns. Among our objectives, we aim to arrange film screenings, facilitate Q&A sessions with filmmakers, spotlight emerging talents, and keep our dedicated documentary enthusiasts updated on the latest film festivals, documentaries, and industry happenings

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Become A Part of Our story

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