Aspen Shortsfest is an Oscar®-qualifying film festival recognized as one of the premier short film festivals in North America. Each April, enthusiastic audiences, filmmakers and special guests from around the globe gather to participate in public screenings, panels, workshops, and other festivities that spotlight the art and craft of short form cinema. Following in the festival's long tradition of Oscar® success, The Martha Mitchell Effect by Anne Alvergue and Beth Levison became the latest Shortsfest selection to be recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when it was nominated for Best Documentary Short Film in 2023. A nominee for Best Animated Short Film in 2022, Affairs of the Art by Joanna Quinn, won the jury award in the comedy category at Shortsfest. In 2020, four Shortsfest selections were recognized by the Academy when Daughter by Daria Kashcheeva and Sister by Siqi Song were nominated for Best Animated Short Film while Brotherhood by Meryam Joobeur and Nefta Football Club by Yves Piat competed for Best Live Action Short Film.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Jury Award for Animation - $2,500 Cash Prize
International Competition Jury Award for animation.

Jury Award for Comedy - $2,500 Cash Prize
International Competition Jury Award for comedy.

Jury Award for Drama - $2,500 Cash Prize
International Competition Jury Award for drama.

Jury Award for Documentary - $2,500 Cash Prize
International Competition Jury Award for documentary.

Jury Award for Short Short - $1,250 Cash Prize
International Competition Jury Award for short short.

Jury Award for Student Short - $1,250 Cash Prize
International Competition Jury Award for student short.

The Ellen Award - $2,500 Cash Prize
Chosen by the Ellen Jury, this award is given to the film that evokes the spirit of Aspen Film's founder.

Audience Choice Award - $1,250 Cash Prize
Audience Award for best film.

Youth Jury Award - $1,250 Cash Prize
A recruited jury comprising local middle and high school students awards a student prize to their favorite Shortsfest film.

Special Jury Recognition Awards
International Competition Jury awards recognizing outstanding cinematic accomplishment.

By agreeing to the terms and conditions on the entry form for Aspen Film's Shortsfest, the person or entity (the Applicant) submitting an entry (the Short) to Aspen Film's Shortsfest (ASF) acknowledges that s/he has read, understood and agrees to the following rules and guidelines:

1. The Applicant is legally authorized to enter the Short in ASF, and the Short is not subject to any claims or litigation and is not threatened by any claims or litigation.

2. Entries must be 40 minutes or under in length, cannot have premiered before March 2023, and must be submitted in one or more of the following categories: Animation, Comedy, Documentary, or Drama. Entries that have been publicly broadcast or made available online in the U.S. are ineligible. (Note: Films that have only been digitally screened with restricted availability as part of an online festival selection are still eligible.)

2.a ASF will not review multiple versions of a submitted Film. Only one version of the Film may be submitted. If multiple versions are submitted, ASF can not guarantee the newest version will be reviewed and may only view the version that was received first.

3. To qualify for the Student Award, the Short must have been completed while enrolled in an accredited film or media arts course or program.

4. Non-English language shorts must be subtitled in English. For accessibility, English language shorts must have the option of English captioning.

5. ASF can only accept, consider and notify entries submitted with valid entry form and non-refundable entry fee. To be considered for ASF, the Applicant must fill out the entry form on FilmFreeway. Applicants must submit a Secure Online Screener. Entry Fee payment must be made online through FilmFreeway.

5.a Fee waivers will be provided on a case by case basis. Due to the limited number of fee waivers, we cannot guarantee that you will receive one, even if you meet the criteria outlined below. Eligibility for a Fee Waiver will depend on the following:
• You lack the financial means to pay our submissions fee, either partially or in full.
• You are unable to pay the submission fee for political/geographical reasons outside of your control.

6. ASF reserves the right to consider for inclusion in the Festival, and include in the Festival, films received at any time and through any means, channel, or process, including means, channels, or processes other than those outlined in these Terms. Nothing in these Terms or otherwise requires ASF to select for Festival inclusion any of the Films submitted through the process outlined in these Terms.

7. Late Entries: For Late entry requests please contact ASF at

8. To verify ASF has received your entry, we advise that you check the FilmFreeway status before emailing us with further questions.

9. All films will be notified of their status in March. If your contact information or premiere status changes between entry submission and our notification date, please update your information on FilmFreeway and email any changes to ASF at:

10. Entry materials cannot be returned.

11. It is the sole responsibility of the Applicant to secure clearance from the copyright holders of any copyrighted materials in the Short. The Applicant releases and discharges ASF, its employees and agents from any and all claims, demands or causes of actions related to misappropriation or infringement of copyright or violation of any other right arising out of or relating to this Short.

12. In the event that the Short is accepted as a Finalist by ASF, the Applicant hereby agrees to the following rights and requests and grants to ASF without reservations, conditions or qualifications:

12a. ASF reserves the right to screen an exhibition-quality digital file of the Short (see guidelines for accepted formats) during ASF, including educational screenings and a post festival Awards screening event.

12b. ASF reserves the right to coordinate ALL publicity and press outreach concerning the Short’s presentation at ASF, including but not limited to:

12.b-1 The right to use excerpted clips, still images and/or titles, and information from or relating to the Short for promotional purposes in all media including Aspen Film's website.

12.b-2 The right to issue and authorize publicity concerning the filmmakers and the Short and to use all associated names, likenesses and biographical information.

12.b-3 The right to provide contact information for the director and producer(s) of the Short and to grant ASF the right to provide this information to film industry organizations sponsoring Festival events at its discretion.

12c. ASF reserves the right to retain a preview copy of any Short submitted or solicited for ASF’s non-circulating library, as well as for ASF educational purposes.

12d. ASF reserves the right to disqualify, without refund of any or all submission fees, any entry which is in violation of the guidelines and participation agreement.

Overall Rating
  • An incredibly intelligent film festival with committed programmers who love film in all its iterations. A diverse selection of films telling diverse narratives. The cast and crew of Where My Memory Began is simply humbled by the selection. Thank you everyone at Aspen Shortsfest!

    April 2024
  • Harris Doran

    I have shown at this festival twice and honestly it is one of the best festivals period. The quality of the programming is extremely high caliber and the set up of the festival makes it so that you really see films and you really spend time with the other filmmakers. The festival does a great and generous job of taking care of the filmmakers. I have many friends and collaborators I have met here. Can not recommend this festival highly enough.

    April 2024
  • Zeke Nicholson

    Excellent festival! Great programming, nice people, cool place, good vibes! Loved it.

    April 2024
  • Jason Headley

    Truly one of the best film festival experiences I've ever had. Somehow the entire event, from the programmers to the volunteers to the other filmmakers, was infused with kindness and generosity. The films were beautiful and varied. Incredibly well-programmed. I'm so grateful to have been a part of it all.

    April 2024
  • Andrew Segreti

    Top-notch all around. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, the work was fantastic and the level of organization was exceptional.

    April 2024