Big Shoulders Film Festival at DePaul University is dedicated to presenting the work of innovative student filmmakers from around the world. Admissions are open to all students at the post-secondary level.

Big Shoulders is a front seat to the world’s stories. It is our mission to promote diversity and inclusion by showcasing the work of emerging young voices and unique ways of storytelling.

* Best in Category (four):
• Animation
• Documentary
• Experimental
• Fiction

* The Vincentian Prize for Social Impact (one)

Films completed after February 1, 2019 are eligible for the Big Shoulders Film Festival 2021.

Filmmakers should be enrolled in a degree-seeking program at the post-secondary level, OR have been enrolled in a degree-seeking program when the film was completed.

Films should be less than 15 minutes.

Films should be in English or have English subtitles.

Works in progress or incomplete work will not be considered.

Rights must be attained and documented for copyrighted music. If rights cannot be proven, the movie will not be considered.

PRESS KIT (required):

- One production photo in jpeg format.
- A short (40 word) synopsis.
- Director and Producer’s short (40 word) bio and headshot.


• Frame rate: 23.976 (23.98), 25, or 29.97. 
• Frame size: HD: 1920x1080 or 1280x720 
• Compression: Apple ProRes 422 (not HQ) 

Overall Rating
  • One of the best film events in which I participated. Great curatorship, organization and hospitality but above all great friendships is what you will find in this film festival. It is very interesting to talk with filmmakers from different parts of the world and to know different points of view about the art of cinematography. Many thanks to DePaul university and especially Michael, Fran, Caitlin, Ariana, I will miss you friends.

    March 2020
  • Herman Perera

    It was great to know my script 'The Owl' was a SEMI-FINALIST. I'm humbled and value your honour on the selection. Wish your talented team all the very best for many festival years ahead.

    February 2020
  • Matthew Brdlik

    I went to big shoulders last year as a patron and knew I needed to get accepted there. I'm so glad to have the experience. Michael and the whole team do an excellent job of creating a family environment where everyone is included. This is the perfect incubator to become friends with film makers from all over the globe. It's also amazing to have stayed in one of Chicago's nicest hotels! Definitely my top festival experience so far! If you're accepted it's worth the trip!

    February 2020
  • Nick Iannaco

    I had an amazing experience. DePaul students and faculty were so welcoming and accommodating. I met some incredible filmmakers from around the world and I would definitely submit again.

    March 2019
  • Annabella Schnabel

    The festival had a high-quality selection from all over the world and I feel honored that my film Referral got selected and won the Best Film and Best of Fest this time (since this was my second time here). I still think Big Shoulders is an extremely well organized, welcoming festival with awesome people! I highly recommend it! ❤︎

    February 2019