Once you’ve finished creating your filmic masterpiece, you’ll want it to be seen! Regardless of your current level in the industry, submitting to festivals is a great way to garner attention to your latest feature or short. While several of the biggest festivals have fall deadlines, there are a ton of awesome indie festivals you can apply to now! And it’s not very fun to run around the internet chasing deadlines and googling “best film festivals for indie films”—we know because we’ve tried.
So we compiled a curated list of film festivals with upcoming submission deadlines so that you don’t miss out on your next big break. Did we miss a great festival with a winter or spring deadline? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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Seattle International Film Festival | Seattle, WA
Deadline: January 4, 2018| Fee: $65 – $160
The Atlanta Film Festival has a four decade long history of discovering and nurturing new filmmaking talent, having shown early works by Robert Rodriguez, Spike Lee, and Victor Nunez. The Screenplay Competition was founded in 2008 to expand this tradition by recognizing the foundation of the filmmaking art form. The 2018 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition is designed to find the best screenplays around the world and offer their authors an opportunity for a once in a lifetime screenplay workshop and mentorship with professionals in the film industry.
Chicago Underground Film Festival | Chicago, IL
Deadline: January 5, 2018| Fee: $30 – $65
Now in our 25th year, The Chicago Underground Film Festival, the longest running underground film festival in the world, is an internationally recognized program providing a venue for documentary, experimental and avant-garde narrative film and video. The festival’s mission is to select and screen film, video and related works presenting a diverse line up of moving image programming focusing on filmmakers working to reinvent and explore new approaches to established practices, to foster new forms of media art and to build an audience for such work. Our goal is to achieve these aims by presenting a fun, user-friendly and accessible event..if you suspect your film is “underground,” it probably is.
San Francisco International Film Festival | San Francisco, CA
Deadline: January 8, 2018 | Fee: Free
The crown jewel of the SFFILM’s exhibition program is the San Francisco International Film Festival. Through intelligent and innovative programming, SFFILM Festival creates singularly vital experiences for audiences of all kinds. An essential stop on the international film festival circuit, SFFILM Festival is well regarded as a significant celebration of world cinema in one of the country’s most beautiful cities.
Nashville Film Festival | Nashville, TN
Deadline: January 12, 2018 | Fee: $70 – 85
Nashville Film Festival offers nearly $100,000 in cash and prizes for filmmakers and screenwriters with winners selected by industry power players – including studio representatives, producers and filmmakers.The winning short films in the Narrative, Animated and Documentary Short Film Competitions are eligible for Academy Award® consideration without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rule
New Orleans Film Festival | New Orleans, LA
Deadline: January 12, 2018 | Fee: $25 – 85
The festival’s growing reputation is built upon a commitment to discovering new and diverse voices, with 95% of the lineup coming directly from submissions. Paste Magazine praised the festival for offering “a platform to voices that still fight to be heard,” and indeed, 2017’s festival saw 45% of its films helmed by filmmakers of color and 53% from female filmmakers.
Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Festival | Los Angeles, CA
Deadline: January 12, 2018 | Fee: $0 – 90
Outfest is the leading queer media arts non-profit organization. Our mission is to protect our past, showcase our present, and nurture our future by fostering gender, sexuality, and LGBTQ culture and its transformative social impact on the world.
The Bentonville Film Festival 2018 | Los Angeles, CA
Deadline: January 12, 2018 | Fee: $45 – 90
The Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) is a one of a kind event that champions inclusion in all aspects of media entertainment. The annual six day festival, organized by the Bentonville Film Festival LLC and the Bentonville Film Festival Foundation, with the help of founding sponsor Walmart and presenting sponsor Coca-Cola, is held the first week of May of every year in Bentonville, Arkansas, and includes an impactful Inclusion, Research and Content Summit. Connecting engaged entertainment industry leaders and major corporate changemakers with a diverse array of storytellers affords BFF the unique opportunity to amplify commercially viable content, solutions and initiatives that adequately represent the world around us.
Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) | Newport, RI
Deadline: January 15, 2018 | Fee: $25 – 75
The Festival is dedicated to the creation of opportunities for artistic interaction and exchange among independent filmmakers, directors, producers and the film-going public. It’s mission is to discover the new voices of independent film.
Beverly Hills Film Festival | Beverly Hills, CA
Deadline: January 15, 2018 | Fee: $45 – 90
The BHFF serves as a cinematic cultural template for emerging filmmakers and screenplays writers who wish to express their uniqueness through the lens of past excellence while trying to make alliances with sources of power in the cinematic industry. The BHFF merges today’s filmmaking pioneers with the wealth of cinematic heritage by edifying and developing the filmic community through sponsoring community-based literacy needs. Also, the BHFF aims to involve and serve the next generation of entrepreneurs, investors, leaders, and advocates in its community to provide cause work opportunities.
Nantucket Film Festival and Screenplay Competition | Brooklyn, NY
Deadline: January 15, 2018 | Fee: $45 – 205
The Nantucket Film Festival (NFF) was founded in 1996 to spotlight screenwriters and the art of screenwriting in today’s cinema. From its conception, NFF has been dedicated to the notion that the screenwriter’s contribution is at the core of filmmaking.
Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia
Deadline: January 31, 2018 | Fee: $0 – 30
The Short Shorts Film Festival (SSFF) started in 1999 and became an Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences accredited festival in 2004, where the winner of the Short Shorts’ Grand Prix is eligible to receive an Academy Awards® nomination. SSFF has now become one of the largest short film festivals in Asia. In 2004, SSFF received a request from the Governor of Tokyo to develop film programs showcasing Asian short films. This led to the establishment of Short Shorts Film Festival Asia. Now, these two festivals take place in locations throughout Tokyo simultaneously in June as Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia.
Marfa Film Festival | Marfa, Texas
Deadline: February 1, 2018 | Fee: $20 – 105
“Our festival was designed in contrast to the chaotic and competitive environments often found on the festival circuit.Since 2008 the Marfa Film Festival has attracted talented filmmakers, international press, industry professionals, and attendees from around the world. The vast, remote landscape surrounding Marfa has witnessed a fascinating history of art and film which continues to unfold.”
DocLands Documentary Film Festival | San Rafael, CA
Deadline: February 1, 2018 | Fee: $25 – 20
Presented by the California Film Institute, DOCLANDS Documentary Film Festival brings compelling stories and the provocative insight behind them to Marin County, CA, May 3 – 6, 2018. We endorse the exchange of ideas and inspiration through public screenings, engaged conversations, and grassroots networking events. In addition, DocLands aims to build an active, involved, fully supportive community around documentary film dedicated to initiating connections and partnerships that will illuminate and invigorate the business and art of non-fiction filmmaking.
London Independent Film Festival | London, UK
Deadline: February 5, 2018 | Fee: £30 – 85
LIFF is committed to the independent filmmaker. We give special attention to the screening of films by first and second time directors, films shot with budgets under £100,000 ($150,000 US) and quality films that – for whatever reason – are unlikely to receive distribution through other channels.
Melbourne International Film Festival | Melbourne, Australia
Deadline: February 15, 2018 | Fee: $75 – 105 (AUD)
Established in 1952, the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is one of the world’s oldest film festivals and the Southern Hemisphere’s largest. The Festival has a large, dedicated and growing audience with a well-established public profile as a major event on the Australian calendar. [Their mission is] To present a celebratory event with an outstanding screening program of the best of new international cinema along with special retrospectives and tributes. To challenge and reveal discoveries in cinematic language, and provoke discussion and debate through a range of contextualised activities, including public panels, guest Q&As and In Conversation events and an international short film competition.
Bushwick Film Festival | Brooklyn, NY
Deadline: February 15, 2018 | Fee: $20 – 60
Now in its 11th year, the Bushwick Film Festival has become an industry staple for new talent and a premiere voice for independent cinema in Brooklyn. We have showcased local and international filmmakers from more than 40 countries, providing a platform for diverse stories from all people, especially women, people of color and the LGBTQ community. Located in Bushwick, the bustling center of Brooklyn’s artistic and cultural community, the festival offers five days full of screenings, panels, parties and networking opportunities. We encourage our filmmakers, industry professionals and audiences to engage, share and collaborate in an eclectic and open-minded atmosphere to form new alliances, expand horizons and share our common passion for independent film. After a decade full of fantastic screenings, people and moments, we are as driven as ever to continue our quest to share amazing stories with an ever growing audience and we hope you will join us!
Indie Street Film Festival | Red Bank, NJ
Deadline: March 1, 2018 | Fee: $15 – 50
It is the mission of the Indie Street Film Festival to discover the most innovative independent filmmakers and nurture them through an ever-evolving world of technology, distribution, and audience engagement, regardless of budget size and in spite of restrictive funding. ISFF will focus on cultural community growth through its presentation of films that voice impactful human stories. The festival’s selected films will all be awarded the opportunity to join the Indie Street cooperative movement, a group distribution brand whose members share resources, profits and a unified audience: ISFF will be the discovery funnel that fuels the new cooperative model and more sustainable careers for the next generation of talented artists.
NewFilmmakers Los Angeles | Los Angeles, CA
Deadline: March 1, 2018 | Fee: $25 – 40
NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization designed to showcase innovative works by emerging filmmakers from around the world, providing the Los Angeles community of entertainment professionals and film goers with a constant surge of monthly screening events. NFMLA provides a forum where filmmakers can be recognized for their contributions, have open audience discussions about their projects and connect with industry professionals for insight on distribution, production, acquisition and representation. artists.
Williamsburg International Film Festival | New York, NY
Deadline: March 18, 2018 | Fee: $25 – 85
The Williamsburg International Film Festival, voted a top 10 film festival by MovieMaker Magazine, is proud to be celebrating its tenth anniversary.In addition to premieres, the festival features film selections from a multitude of categories as well as Screenplay, Commercial and Soundtrack competitions. This year we introduce the TV/Web Episode Competition and the Film/TV/Web Trailer Competition. Submit your TV or web pilot or episode with a running time of up to 60 minutes in length. Submit your trailer with a running time of up to 4 minutes. Winning trailer will play at the festival during a Saturday night screening. Competition winners are always invited to attend the festival with full festival passes. So bring your co-writer, producer, friend or family member.
Austin Film Festival | Austin, TX
Deadline: March 30, 2018 | Fee: $50 – 85
Austin Film Festival furthers the art and craft of filmmaking by inspiring and championing the work of screenwriters, filmmakers, and all artists who use the language of film to tell a story.Austin Film Festival recognizes the writer as the heart of the creative process of filmmaking and strives to uncover outstanding, emerging filmmakers; serve as a creative catalyst for legendary, contemporary and rising talent; foster their development through panels, workshops and master classes conducted by professionals; recognize, encourage, and challenge the skills of these new filmmakers and provide outreach opportunities to writers and filmmakers.
Leeds International Film Festival | Leeds West Yorkshire, UK
Deadline: March 30, 2018 | £15 – 65
The world’s first moving images were shot in Leeds in 1888 by Louis le Prince. Today Leeds is a major centre for film production and exhibition. Leeds International Film Festival is one of the UK’s biggest film events. LIFF is a portal for audiences to discover the real world of film that exists beyond regular film exhibition. LIFF primarily supports outstanding new talent and established talent that has not received deserved exposure in the UK. LIFF considers narrative, documentary and animated films, in feature-length and short formats, and in multiple genres and from all countries. The full programme for LIFF31 is online at leedsfilmcity.com.
Raindance Film Festival | London, UK
Deadline: April 27, 2018 | £25 – 150
The Raindance Film Festival, running in central London since 1993, aims to show the very best in new independent cinema from the UK and around the world, accepting films of all lengths and genres.Raindance showcases films that challenge the boundaries of filmmaking and the focus of the programming reflects current trends in world cinema.The 26th Raindance will take place 19 September – 30 September 2018 in central London.
The Calgary International Film Festival | Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Deadline: May 1, 2018 | $25 – 80 (CAD)
The Calgary International Film Festival’s mission is “to entertain and engage audiences by curating the most innovative and compelling films, and creating remarkable festival experiences.