Gaining traction in the film industry, or really any industry, is difficult when you don’t know which direction to go in, or what step to take next. If you’ve made a short film, you’ve already done most of the hard work. Next comes submitting your film to festivals in the hopes that your work is shared with the public and gains recognition or acclaim.
Here is a list of 20 film festivals, both domestic and international, that are worth submitting to in the upcoming year:
Park City, Utah
This festival is the largest independent film festival in the US, with upwards of 50,000 guests annually. Sundance offers a number of different categories, in both feature-length and short. This years entry fee for short film was $60, and though this is one of the most competitive film festivals in the world, it might be worth the money as acceptance into the festival is sure to skyrocket your work into Hollywood’s spotlight. To qualify for the Short Film competition, the work must be 50 minutes or less, including credits.
The Cannes Film Festival is an incredibly well-known international event held in France every year. Their Short Film category accepts works of 15 minutes or less, with no fee upon submission. This star-studded event is no joke, so if your film isn’t in its most polished form then this might not be for you, but with no submission fee you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain from sending out your film to this prestigious festival.
Palm Springs, California
This oscar-qualifying short film festival is the largest short film festival in North America. With a focus on nurturing new filmmaking talent, this festival is a must for submitting your short, especially if you are new to the game. Over 100 films have gone on to win an Academy Award since 1996, which is evidence that this festival fosters success if you are so lucky to be accepted. Your short must be no longer than 40 minutes to be considered.
This festival is the largest international film festival for short films, and has been for the past 40 years. The event has two different sections, one National for French filmmakers, and an International for filmmakers from across the globe. The maximum runtime for short film submissions is 40 minutes, and there is no fee that comes along with entering your film.
In it’s 26th year, this festival is an Oscar-qualifying, internationally-recognized event held annually. Your film submission can not exceed 40 minutes in length. Though there is an $80 fee upon entering your film, those accepted into the festival are provided with lodging and transportation. Plus, the winners of the festival are eligible to receive a cash prizes of up to $2,500.
New York, New York
This film festival, started by Robert DeNiro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff, takes place in the heart of NYC and offers a competition for both Best Narrative Short and Best Documentary Short. The submission must be 40 minutes or under to be eligible and there is a $60 fee upon entry. The festival caters to both “emerging and established voices”, making is a viable option for those newer in the industry.
Culver City, California
This annual festival is a part of Film Independent, and hosts over 36,000 people every year—it is also a qualifying festival in short films for the Academy Awards, making this event a great opportunity for acclaim. The “short” short films are required to be under 26 minutes and the “mid-length” short films must be between 26-45 minutes—additionally, there is a $45 submission fee.
Held in the beautiful Telluride, this international film festival is a bit smaller compared to those festivals mentioned so far, accepting about 24 shorts per year. The festival comes just after Cannes, taking place each year on Labor Day Weekend. Shorts should not exceed 60 minutes, which is a bit longer than most maximums, but there is a $95 submission fee.
This festival is the biggest indie film festival in the UK, held in London’s West End film district. The shorts that go on to be accepted to the festival will qualify for Oscar and BAFTA considerations. The fee for submitting shorts is £35—There is a short film maximum runtime of 45 minutes in the following categories: “Narrative Short”, “Documentary Short”, and “Animation Short”.
Otherwise known as “Berlinale”, this German festival is considered to be the largest publicly attended film festival in the world, with over 300,000 tickets sold annually. The fee for short films is € 60. The maximum length varies from category to category: the maximum length for short films in the “Berlinale Shorts” competition is 30 minutes, for “Generation” it is 20 minutes, for the “Perspektive Deutsches Kino”, which is german films only, the max is 45 minutes.
Park City, Utah
This festival gets thousands of submissions, but its a great option for those filmmakers who are new to the film festival scene, as they mainly focus on lower-budget films and emerging artists—of the submissions, 70 shorts are chosen. The maximum runtime for shorts is 40 minutes, with a $50 entry fee. There are four categories for shorts: “Narrative”, “Documentary”, “Animation”, and “Experimental”, so there are plenty of options to choose from.
Contrary to its title, this festival doesn’t actually take place in America, but is held annually in Poland. The festival is the only event in Central Europe to focus intently on American independent film, and the festival was created to be a viable avenue toward European distribution and co-production. There is no entry fee, so submitting your short to this festival is well worth it, as you won’t be losing any money in the process.
New York, New York
This NYC festival is organized by the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and generally focuses on first-time filmmakers. This festival is unique because the shorts only accept submission by artists who are 30 years old or younger at the time of the end of production. The standard runtime for shorts in “Fiction”, “Documentary”, “Animation”, and “Experimental” is 54 minutes, with a submission fee of just $5.
This Canada-based festival hosts over 480,000 people annually, making it one of the most widely attended festival in the world. In terms of reputation, it is a notably prestigious event, with many celebrities and stars coming from across the globe to be a part of the festival. TIME magazine even dubbed the festival as “the most influential film festival, period.” The maximum length of international shorts can not exceed 49 minutes, and there is a $5 CAD fee upon submission.
This festival is the oldest film festival in the world, having originated in 1932, and is a part of the “Venice Biennale” which is an arts organization that puts on a number of exhibitions in film, architecture, contemporary dance, and theatre. There is a 60 Euro fee for shorts, as well as a 40 minute maximum runtime for the submission. In its 74th year, this festival has consistently been named one of the most reputable film events in history.
This 8 day festival focuses on the writer’s contribution to film making, and its original name was the “Heart of Film Screenwriters Conference”. With the name change, this festival now caters to all filmmakers and contributes to Austin’s rich art community by creating year-round recognition that highlights the value of storytelling in film. There is a submission fee of $60 and a 40 minute cap on film runtime in the short categories of “Narrative”, “Documentary” and “Animation”.
Another Austin based festival, the SXSW is a 9 day event that strives to feature a diverse set of film selections by directors who are new to Hollywood. There is a $55 submission fee for short films, with options to submit to “Narrative Short”, “Documentary Short”, and “Animated Short”. The short must be under 40 minutes, and SXSW does not accept rough cuts, meaning your film must be completely polished by the time of submission.
This 6 day festival caters specifically to short films, and strive to “discover, support and develop new talent in filmmaking.” The international festival as been labelled an official gateway to the world’s most well-known awards including the BAFTAs, European Film Awards and is a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards. Shorts can not exceed 30 minutes in runtime, and there is a $25 submission fee upon entering the festival.
The British Film Institute London Film Festival, which takes place in the UK annually, screens over 300 films, shorts, and documentaries from over 60 countries across the globe. The maximum runtime for shorts can not go beyond 60 minutes, which is quite generous for a short, and there is no submission fee, which makes this festival a great option for a longer work without the risk of losing money in the process of submitting.
Edinburgh International, in it’s 71st active year, is the world’s oldest continually running film festival, having initially started in 1947 and running strongly since then. There is a submission fee of $30, and the shorts should not exceed 30 minutes in overall runtime. The festival features fictional, experimental, animated, and documentarian works, giving it a wide range of possible submissions categories.