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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 strike up conversation and perhaps take something away from one another.

The Blackbird Film Festival was founded in 2015 as a festival for student filmmakers but quickly opened submissions to all types of filmmakers in the spirit of collaboration and the sharing of ideas. With this in mind, Blackbird remains a festival geared towards the learning experience and attracts a large number of media production students and film enthusiasts. In 2016, Blackbird moved to Cortland, NY where it partnered with the State University of New York, College at Cortland to host an annual film festival in early-mid May. With that said, Blackbird is committed to supporting several specific groups. Firstly, the Blackbird Film Festival provides internship opportunities for students interested in media production, event planning, marketing and public relations. Each academic year, Blackbird supports over 40 student interns from SUNY Cortland as they work together to bring the festival weekend to life. Secondly, Blackbird is committed to supporting female filmmakers by ensuring that at least 50% of our annual lineup of films are made by women. And lastly, Blackbird is committed to supporting filmmakers outside the United States by providing travel assistance for accepted international filmmakers.

Whether you're a filmmaker or just a film enthusiast, we hope you will consider joining us and experiencing what makes the Blackbird Film Festival one of the "Top 100 Best Reviewed" festivals according to FilmFreeway!​

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 www.Blackbirdfilmfest.com/submit.

Blackbird Best of Fest
World Cinema Award
Documentary Film Award
Horror Film Award
Dramatic Film Award
Comedic Film Award
Micro-Cinema Award
Animated Film Award
Cinema Director Award
Cinematography Award
Originality in Cinema Award
Cinematic Writing Award
Cinema Editing Award
Sound Design Award
Webseries Award
Immersive Media Award
New York State Film Award

Please refer to www.blackbirdfilmfest.com for "Official Festival Guidelines"

1.0 Overview:
The Blackbird Film Festival is a film festival located in Cortland, NY and hosted by the State University of New York, College at Cortland. Submissions must be made online (via https://filmfreeway.com/festival/BlackbirdFilmFest). Official Selections will be screened at the festival event in late April / early May. Official Selection and award notifications will be delivered electronically. Physical prizes (certificates, plaques, trophies, etc.) will be given to the award winners at the award ceremony during the Blackbird Film Festival weekend. Award winners not in attendance can have their awards mailed to them at the expense of the award winner.

Entrants warrant that they have the legal right to enter film work to the Blackbird Film Festival. As the Director/Producer of the Film, entrants have submitted to the Festival, entrants represent and warrant to the Festival that the Film and all parts thereof are original; that the Film does not contravene the rights of any person or entity and that entrants own or control the Film and all parts thereof and have the sole authority to submit the Film to the Festival; the Film entrants submitted to the Festival is not subject to nor threatened by any litigation.

Entrants acknowledge that no fiduciary or confidential relationship now exists between the Festival and entrants, and entrants further acknowledge that no such relationship is established by these guidelines, my submission of the Film, or by the Festival’s acceptance, review or retention of the Film.

If a film is accepted, entrants will be solely responsible for delivering their exhibition video materials to Blackbird Film Festival. A complete press kit and an online link to your film will be needed no later than the deadline of March 1st. Blackbird Film Festival cannot be held liable for your exhibition print/video materials which are lost or damaged.

By submitting to the Festival, material associated with you and your film agree to be included in Blackbird Film Festival’s promotional material (newsletters, flyers, media, etc.) at the festival discretion. By submitting to the Blackbird Film Festival, you give Blackbird permission to screen your film during the festival weekend at the festival’s discretion.

2.0 Submission Rules and Regulations
Eligibility Requirements:
2.1. Films (of any length/genre) must have been completed less than 3 years prior to the festival weekend.
2.2. All entries must be either in English or subtitled in English.
2.3. Entrants confirm and warrant that they have the required legal authority to submit the entry into the festival and to use all music, images, and content in the entry.

3.0 Submission Guidelines:
3.1. Films must be submitted digitally via www.filmfreeway.com/festival/BlackbirdFilmFest.
3.2. Blackbird Film Festival is only accepting completed works at this time; no works-in-progress will be considered.
3.3. Late entries will not be considered.

4.0 Judging and Selection:
4.1. Each submission will be reviewed by at least two judges during the first stage of reviews. Films selected during the first stage will be reviewed again by a group of Film Professionals / Educators during the second stage of review. Names of Judges will not be released until Official Selections are announced.
4.2. All entrants will be notified regarding inclusion in the Festival by early February at the latest via www.filmfreeway.com. A member of the Festival committee will also notify each Official Selection entrant by email.
4.3. Judging decisions are final.
4.4. Submissions that are found to have violated any of the Eligibility Requirements listed above may be disqualified at any time by the Blackbird International Film Festival.

5.0 Submission Categories and Costs:
5.1. It is the responsibility of the entrant to submit films into the correct category. Incorrect submissions may be disqualified.
5.2 Entrants may choose to submit films with or without FEEDBACK. Entrants who submit films into the categories WITH FEEDBACK will receive a copy of the Judges feedback for that particular submission. Entrants who select a category WITH FEEDBACK will receive the Judge’s report regardless of Official Selection.
5.4. Submission fees are non-refundable and will not be waived for any reason. If a submission is not selected or disqualified, entrants will not receive a fee refund.

6.0 Prizes and Awards:
6.1. All Official Selections will receive Official Blackbird Film Festival High-resolution Laurels for promotion of the film. Official Selections will be announced early March at the latest. Once Officially Selected for inclusion in the festival, entrants are qualified to receive festival awards.
6.2. Award winners and Prizes will be announced at the Award Ceremony at the end of the Festival weekend.
6.3. Festival awards will be given to award winners at the Award Ceremony. Awards can be mailed to winners at the expense of the filmmaker.

7.0 Commitment to Female Filmmakers:
7.1. The Blackbird Film Festival will ensure that at least 50% of our annual film lineup are films made by female filmmakers.

Please contact Blackbird at info@blackbirdfilmfestival.com if you have any questions or concerns.

Overall Rating
  • This festival is a devoted team of young professionals who emphatically value filmmakers and their projects. They consistently present a strong slate of films every year, as well as a diverse guest list great for networking purposes. Worth it.

    July 2020
  • Yana Gold

    Such a well organized and hospitable festival! Great selection of films... highly recommend!! <3

    June 2020
  • Andrew Kadikian

    This fest was cool, but not the best communication.

    September 2019
  • Lauren Bair

    Thank you for selecting our short comedy "Sorry for Your Loss" for the 2019 program (and for the Cinematic Editing award!!). I was unable to be there, but communication with festival staff is stellar, and even from across the country, I felt like part of the festivities. DEFINITELY RECOMMEND to future filmmakers!

    May 2019
  • Brooke Trantor

    Where do I even begin?

    I orginially heard of the festival through a friend of mine who attended and won an award last year - I was like "Cortand, where?" She assured me it was the greatest of all festivals, and I must submit and attend if I was selected.... WELL. She was right!

    Blackbird Film Festival is one of the greatest film festival experiences I have have had. Our team was truly blown away & we hope to be back again next year!

    Sam, the festival director, is truly a delightful human being & his passion for filmmaking bleeds through to every aspect of Blackbird Film Festival. Communication was always punctual & personal, and all questions/concerns/details were responded to.

    I have been to several film festivals, and I have never felt so welcomed. It was incredible. The interns that Sam has help running this festival are outgoing, charismatic, delightful human beings. I was blown away by their caring nature and attention to details.

    The films that were in this festival were of extreme quality and value; the stories being told were diverse and from all over the world. I was honored to meet other filmmakers from Los Angeles, New York, Arizona, London & other parts of the world. The filmmakers, too, were incredible people that I was so excited to meet and connect with, and hopefully work with in the future.

    I was also honored to be asked to participate in a community meeting with the Cortland, NY YWCA - we met up with younger girls from the community and had lunch, talking about their hopes and dreams in the industry, etc. Also, local businesses were sponsoring the festival, and we were treated so well in those businesses as well. Honestly, the heart and soul of the Cortland, NY community was incredibly hospitable and giving.

    We were very impressed with all components of Blackbird Film Festival, and if you are a filmmaker, you should make it a priority to submit and attend this festival!!

    May 2019