29 Film Festivals to Enter Your Short Film

By Kate Ferguson

29 Film Festivals to Enter Your Short Film

Image by Alex Litvin

First of all, congratulations. If you’re here you’re probably either ready to start submitting your completed short film or you’re somewhere in the process of making one, which we all know is no small feat.

As of writing, I myself am gearing up for production on a short that’s been in progress for many months. This will be my first time doing a serious film festival run, so I’ve naturally been doing some research on the different types of film festivals that accept short films! (Next, I’ll be creating a list of places to distribute short films online, another important resource.)

The following film festivals range in size and prestige. We’ve got the biggest, the best, and some newer ones that still don’t charge any submission fees. It’s good to mix it up right? Some of these are film festivals that happen to have a short film category, while others are short-film specific. With each, I’ve listed the months that their festival takes place…but keep in mind that submission dates are way before the festival itself. (Click through to learn more about each individually.)

The following are 29 film festivals to enter your short films – let us know how it goes!

1. Palm Springs ShortFest


Where: Palm Springs, CA

When: June

Fee: Yes

The Palm Springs ShortFest is one of the film festivals that qualifies for both the Academy Awards and BAFTA. It’s a sister festival to the prestigious Palm Springs International Film Festival, which is held each year. Films must be under 40 minutes, and Submissions open October 1.

2. No Coast Film Festival

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Where: Emporia, KS

When: August


The No Coast Film Festival is a brand new film festival held in Emporia, Kansas - that doesn’t charge a submission fee. Their intention is simply connecting people through great films.

3. Austin Film Festival


Where: Austin, Texas

When: October

Fee: Yes

The Austin Film Festival has been referred to as a “writers film festival” thanks to the fact that they pay a particular focus to the writers involved in filmmaking. They offer year-round events and a Young Filmmakers Program in addition to holding the main yearly film festival.

4. Sundance Film Festival


Where: Park City, Utah

When: January to February

Fee: Yes - $60

Sundance is one of biggest and most prestigious film festivals. Getting a film in could change the trajectory of your career. To qualify for the short film portion, films must be under 50 minutes of run time.

5. Salute Your Shorts Film Festival


Where: Los Angeles, CA

When: August

Fee: Yes

L.A.’s Salute Your Shorts Film Festival curates short films in all genres from all over the world. Judges include actors, producers, and writers who are currently working in the industry.

6. Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival


Where: Clermont-Ferrand, France

When: January to February

Fee: Free

The Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival is the largest international short film festival. Shorts must be under 40 minutes long, and entry is free. They have different categories for French filmmakers and international ones.

7. Telluride Film Festival


Where: Telluride, Colorado

When: August to September

Fee: Yes - $95

The Telluride Film Festival is a bit pricier to submit than some of the others, but they accept fewer shorts so getting in makes a big impact. Short film submissions must be under 60 minutes long.

8. The New Directors/New Films Festival


Where: New York, NY

When: March to April

Fee: Yes - $5

For new filmmakers under the age of the 30, the New Directors/New Films Festival in New York is an awesome place to submit projects. The festival is put on by MOMA and the Film Society Lincoln Center.

9. Aspen ShortsFest


Where: Aspen, Colorado

When: March to April

Fee: Yes

The Aspen ShortFest is another Oscar qualifying short film festival, with categories for Animation, Comedy, Documentary, Drama, and Short Short.

10. Los Angeles Short Film Festival


Where: Los Angeles, California

When: March

Fee: Yes

The Los Angeles Short Film Festival showcases a variety of short film types from all over the world. (While similarly named, it’s not connect to #10 there.)

11. L.A. Shorts International Film Festival


Where: Los Angeles, California

When: July

Fee: Yes

The L.A. Shorts International Film Festival is the longest running short film festival in Los Angeles, and is accredited by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

12. Slamdance Film Festival


Where: Park City, Utah

When: October

Fee: Yes

Slamdance is known to be a friendly festival for low budget projects and newer filmmakers - they choose 70 films to show each year. Run times for submissions should be under 40 minutes.

13. Cannes Film Festival


Where: Nice, France

When: May

Fee: Yes

The short film category at the Cannes Film Festival requires that films be 15 minutes or less. It is, of course, one of the most prestigious film festivals around, and showcases many features and important project every year.

14. HollyShorts Film Festival


Where: Hollywood, CA

When: August

Fee: Yes

The HollyShorts Film Festival features short films under 40 minutes long in categories such as: include Short Animation, Short Live Action, Short Documentary, Music Video, Webisode, Commercials, Youth Film and Digital Microbudget. The festival was co-founded by Theo Dumont and Daniel Sol, and in addition to screenings features panels and networking opportunities.

15. Berlin Film Festival

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Where: Berlin

When: February

Fee: Yes

Short film submissions for the Berlin Film Festival must have a run time under 30 minutes. The German event, also known as “Berlinale,” is one of the highest attended film festivals in the world. Submissions are open until October 9.

16. San JOse INternational Short Film Festival


Where: San Jose, California

When: October

Fee: Yes

The San Jose International Short Film Festival shows 120 films short films over a four day period, each year. They accept short film submissions that range in length from 60 seconds to 30 minutes long, in every genre. (Including music videos.) About half of their films are international.

17. South by Southwest Film Festival


Where: Austin, Texas

When: March

Fee: Yes

The South by Southwest Film Festival, AKA SXSW accepts shorts under 40 minutes long that have not yet been screened in Texas. Their categories include Narrative Shorts, Documentary Shorts, Animated Shorts, Midnight Shorts, Music Videos, Texas Shorts, Texas High School Shorts, Independent Episodics, Virtual Cinema, and Title Design Competition.Some of those categories also qualify for the Academy Awards Short Film competition.

18. Toronto INternational Film Festival


Where: Toronto, Canada

When: September

Fee: Yes - $45

The Toronto International Film Festival, AKA TIFF, hosts around 480,000 people every year. Short film submissions must be under 49 minutes.

19. Exit 6 Film Festival


Where: Basingstoke, UK

When: September

Fee: Yes - £$9

Both short films and music videos are judged and screened at UK-based Exit 6 Film Festival. The festival runs for one day at multiple screening locations in Basingstoke. There’s a brief Q&A with someone from every single film accepted to the festival.

20. Encounters International SHort Film and animation Festival


Where: Bristol, England

When: September

Fee: Yes

The Encounters International Short Film and Animation Festival focuses on short films, featuring film, animation, and virtual reality. The international competition feeds into the Academy Awards, BAFTAs and the European Film Awards. In started as a one-off event in 1995 and has continued to grow every year since.

21. Atlanta ShortsFest


Where: Atlanta, Georgia

When: July

Fee: Yes

The Atlanta ShortsFest was started by director B.J. Ogden. The festival accepts shorts that run under 45 minutes long, in categories such as comedy, animation, documentary, experimental, horror & sci-fi, personal, erotic, fantasy, drama, thrillers, action & adventure, cult.

22. British FIlm Institute London Film Festival


Where: London, England

When: October

Fee: Yes - £45

The British Film Institute London Film Festival, (AKA BFI), has been featuring film projects from all over the world since 1953, and is held each October. Short film submissions must be under 60 minutes long.

23. Taos Shortz Film Festival


Where: Taos, New Mexico

When: March

Fee: Yes

The Taos Shortz Film Festival accepts submissions in categories like documentary, dramatic fiction, comedy fiction, and animation.

24. Short Film Festival Oberhausen


Where: Oberhausen, Germany

When: February

Fee: Yes

Short Film Festival Oberhausen has been around since 1954 and screens 500 shorts each year, chosen from over 5,500 submissions from all the world. The festival is known for showcasing artistic and innovative projects.

25. Short + Sweet Film Festival


Where: Held at 20 different locations

When: In Hollywood, September to October

Fee: $25

The Short + Sweet Film Festival is held at 20 different locations all over the world, from Hollywood to Australia’s Gold Coast. Short film submissions must be ten minutes or less, and can be created and edited on any type of device.

26. Venice Film Festival


Where: Venice, Italy

When: August to September

Fee: Yes - €60

The Venice Film Festival started back in 1932 and showcases a variety of film types. Short film submissions must come in at under 40 minutes long.

27. Tribeca Film Festival


Where: New York, NY

When: April to May

Fee: Yes

The Tribeca Film Festival was started by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff. The festival has short categories for both Best Narrative Short and Best Documentary Short. Short film submissions must be under 40 minutes long.

28. Atlanta film festival


Where: Atlanta, Georgia

When: April

Fee: Yes

The Atlanta Film Festival has been featuring work from both new and established filmmakers for 44 years. The festival is one that qualifies for the Academy Awards in all three categories: Narrative Short, Documentary Short, and Animated Short

29. The Ann Arbor Film Festival


Where: Ann Arbor, Michigan

When: March

Fee: Yes

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the oldest experimental film festival in the U.S., showing 100 to 125 short films each year. Many successful people screened early worked there, including Yoko Ono, Gus Van Sant, George Lucas, and Andy Warhol.

Get in touch if you have other film festivals to add to this list, or if you’d like to share your own experiences and successes!

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