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

Founded in 2015 initially as a festival for young 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. 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. Additionally, Blackbird is largely a student-run event that provides internship opportunities for students interested in media production, event planning, marketing and public relations. Each academic year, Blackbird supports over 40 student interns as they work together to bring the festival weekend to life. Also, it is important to note that Blackbird is committed to supporting female filmmakers by ensuring that at least 50% of our annual lineup of films are made by women.

​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 such a memorable experience year after year!

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
  • This festival went above and beyond almost anything I've seen at any other film festival. The PR staff and interns etc knew our film and were very gracious. Loved the panels and free tacos/breakfast! They offered really cute extras like artwork from a student - a drawing a of a still frame from each movie for purchase (cool!) and a crossword puzzle featuring clues about all the movies. The adventure tour was canceled due to weather, but we had a great art gallery tour. Movies were great, screening excellent, carefully curated Q & As, food was excellent, free popcorn and everyone was really friendly. Not their fault that it rained the entire time we were there (oh well), but we had a great time and I highly recommend.

    May 2023
  • Liam LoPinto

    Sweetest people. Also the guys instantly recognized my Better Call Saul and Nathan For You merch. It’s worth it to go to Cortland.

    May 2023
  • Fantastic festival run by truly incredible people who care deeply about films and filmmakers. Seriously, this is a festival not to be missed- they go out of their way to make sure you are taken care of. Excellent events, and workshops and parties - I had such a wonderful time and met so many amazing filmmakers. This is a fest that should be on top of everyones list. Thank you Sam and Blackbird!

    May 2023
  • Totally awesome event! This was such a fun weekend and there were so many great films.

    The festival organizes films into unique categories (blocks) and it really made it a treat to watch.

    May 2023
  • It was fantastic to find out we have this excellent film festival so close to home! Sam and his team do a beautiful job creating Blackbird, with all the details considered (directional signs on college campuses are so appreciated!) So many planned excursions and activities just for filmmakers was a particular standout feature of this festival. This was also one of the best quality theaters, with a giant screen and great projection and sound, that we've gotten to experience our film on. We look forward to attending again as filmmakers or audience!

    May 2023