The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District invites filmmakers to submit recent, original work for the 11th annual Bethesda Film Fest, set for March 24 & 25, 2023. The festival will be will feature in-person screenings of the top selected filmmakers at Imagination Stage.

Short (5-30 minutes), documentary films by filmmakers from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. will be considered. Films must have been completed within the last two years. All topics are eligible. Filmmakers chosen for the 2022 festival are not eligible and may submit again for the 2024 festival.

Filmmakers are required to attend the film festival screenings in March and speak about their work.

Up to five films will be selected to be shown. A film by a young filmmaker, under age 18 (or still in High School Spring 2023), may also be chosen. Filmmakers whose films are selected will receive an honorarium of $1,000. Young filmmakers will receive $250.

2023 Judges
G Chesler - Professor of Film at George Mason University and an Advisor in the inaugural ITVS / NEH Documentary Development Fellowship program.
Penny Lee - Producer, Director and Film/Video Editor with more than 25 years of editing experience.
Adele Schmidt - Artistic Director of Docs in Progress and co-owner of Zeitgeist Media LLC.

- Filmmakers must be current, permanent residents of Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C.
- Films must be between 5 and 30 minutes in length.
- Films must have been completed within the last two years.
- Filmmakers may only submit one film for consideration.
- Filmmakers chosen for the 2022 festival are not eligible; they may submit again for the 2024 festival.
- Films with non-English dialogue must be submitted with English subtitles.
- DEADLINE: All entries must be received by January 10, 2023
- There is a $25 entry fee. Filmmakers under the age of 18 do not pay an entry fee.

Notification of the selection panel's decision will be sent in February 2023. The selection panel will choose up to five documentaries to screen at the Bethesda Film Fest.

Overall Rating
  • I'm so honored my student film "what if it wasn't a joke" debuted here! I had such an incredible experience and I really appreciate the opportunity to connect with such talented local filmmakers.

    April 2023
  • Penny Lee

    I was happy to be part of this festival. A great staff, great communications and great venue. The two day festival was well attended in a perfect venue. I was proud to be among such wonderful filmmakers that were selected along with our film. Thank you for an awesome experience.

    May 2019
  • R. Kayeen Thomas

    This was a great festival to be a part of! Well organized and well attended!

    June 2018