Discover. Connect. Inspire.


The Blackbird Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in central New York state that celebrates and supports independent filmmakers from around the world. At the Blackbird Film Festival, we strive to curate an inclusive festival atmosphere - an environment where experienced professionals and first time filmmakers can engage in meaningful conversations that form lasting connections and build creative communities.

Founded in 2015 initially as a festival for teen filmmakers, the Blackbird Film Festival opened submissions to all filmmakers in 2016 with the hope of encouraging collaboration, inspiring creativity, and sharing perspectives from around the world. As film is one of the most powerful ways we tell our stories and share our experiences, we believe it is our responsibility to ensure as many voices as possible are being represented each season. First and foremost, Blackbird programmers guarantee that at least 50% of selected films are written and/or directed by woman. Additionally, our programmers are devoted to curating screenings that include as many new and diverse voices from BIPOC filmmakers, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and people/persons with different abilities.

Whether you're a filmmaker or just a film enthusiast, we hope you will join us this year and experience what makes the Blackbird Film Festival a uniquely special and memorable community event

Blackbird Film Festival accepts and supports all genres (of cinema and people).


Blackbird Film Fest entrants are required to pay the submission fee in order to participate in the festival. These fees support the various event costs (venues, supplies, promotional material, staff, etc.) For this reason, submission waivers will not be given for any reason. Thank you for your understanding.

Additional information about Blackbird's judging process and submission statistics can be found at

Each season, Blackbird hosts a catered Award Ceremony for all accepted filmmakers. During this celebration, Blackbird "Best Of" Category Awards (such as Best Dramatic Short, Best Documentary, etc.) are announced. Additionally, Blackbird also also announces Audience Choice Awards for each of the various screening blocks.

Exact award specifications (trophies, medallions, money, etc.) vary from year to year based on sponsorship support.

Please visit to view submission rules and guidelines.

Overall Rating
  • It was an excellent experience for me to submit my first independent short, Yellow Dog, which got the award of Honorable Mention. Best wishes to the festival!

    June 2024
  • Daniele Sestito

    A delightful festival that's based around SUNY Cortland, with many students / alum from there involved. Artistic Director Sam Avery is quite impressive. He navigates you through the weekend like a captain and is present at every second.

    The trivia session, paint-and-sip, and workshops were nice complements to the screenings. The volunteers were awesome, and their micro skits scattered throughout the blocks were hilarious!

    Though the festival and town were different than expected, both seem on track to grow nicely in the coming years, so I'm excited to return! Thank you for having me!

    May 2024
  • Thank you to Blackbird Film Festival for their honourable mention of our film GHANIMAH, we are very grateful for this acknowledgment!

    May 2024
  • One of the absolutely best festival experiences ever! The full team at Blackbird does incredible work putting together a fantastic collection of films and creating a perfect environment for filmmakers to connect. I can't recommend it enough!

    May 2024
  • Blackbird was an amazing festival. The best kind! The staff go above and beyond. They genuinely care about the art of filmmaking.
    The town of Cortland and campus theatre was simply amazing.

    It was truly an honor to be selected. Would I submit again? Oh you bet!

    Thank you so much.

    Kyle vs Karen - Short Film

    May 2024