Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) brings back the regional short film competition Borders | No Borders for the fifth year to celebrate the rich narratives of the South. Borders | No Borders is open to short narrative and documentary films with strong ties to Texas, the states bordering Texas, and Mexico. The competition opens on March 22nd with a submission deadline of September 2nd. Finalist films will be announced with the Houston Cinema Arts Festival 2024 lineup in mid-October and will be screened at the festival. This event is sponsored by the Foundation for Independent Media Arts.

Cultural exchange is often thought of as happening between countries, but it can also take place between cities, states, and even neighborhoods — anywhere a border is perceived or imposed. Houston is the most diverse city in the United States, and Texas, in addition to being the largest state in the continental U.S., shares borders with Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Mexico, which each have their own distinct cultures and identities. These regions inform Houston’s past, present, and future with their cultures, histories, cuisines, ancestral and contemporary sacrifices, injustices, unceded lands, art, music, dance, theater, film, and storytellers. Borders | No Borders celebrates the complexity of Houston and its neighboring communities, all of which contribute to H-Town’s je ne sais quoi.

Borders | No Borders invites residents of Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Mexico as well as filmmakers with meaningful ties to these areas to submit narrative and documentary short films. Films in all languages are welcomed and encouraged, but we request that films that are not in English be submitted with English subtitles to ensure that the translations best represent the filmmaker’s vision. The winners for Best Narrative Short Film and Best Documentary Short Film will each be awarded a prize of $1,000. There will be two additional Jury Prizes of $500 selected by a panel of six jurors. Past jurors include: Damon Davis, Kimberly Rivers Roberts, Sergio Lira, Casey Baron, Giorgio Angelini, Keisha Knight, Regina Agu, Francis Almendarez, Kolby Webster, Liz Purchell, David Lee Huynh, and Jasmine Amussen.

Best Documentary Short - $1000
Documentary Jury Prize - $500
Best Narrative Short - $1000
Narrative Jury Prize - $500

1. Films must be 40 minutes or less.
2. Films must be completed during or after 2020 for eligibility, unless the filmmaker can stake a claim on why it can be considered (production was delayed, film has been re-edited, etc).
3. Premiere status may be taken into consideration but does not affect eligibility.
4. All applicants must complete the official festival submission form located on FilmFreeway.
5. The applicant holds the sole responsibility of copyright clearance of any copyrighted material in the film. Films including unauthorized copyrighted material are ineligible.
6. Non-English films with dialogue necessary for film comprehension must include English subtitles to ensure that the translations best represent the filmmaker’s vision.
7. The nature of the screening is subject to change based on the public safety and health situation at the time of the Festival in November. The final location and nature of the screening will be determined by these variables.

Overall Rating
  • Manis Góngora

    Thank you for the amazing opportunity and the consideration of our work. Although we couldn't make it in person, communication and admiration came from both ways and we are humbled that La Bi-vencia was part of your festival. Thank you.

    November 2022
  • Emily Packer

    Great addition to an already wonderful film festival! I loved working with the Borders I No Borders Team, and feel very grateful that they made our virtual fest as festive as possible.

    December 2020
  • A great experience! Even though the festival was virtual because of covid, HCAS still facilitated opportunities for networking and community-building. They are very caring, dedicated, and lovely folxs all around. This was my first experience with film festivals and I am very grateful that HCAS recognized the need to shine a spotlight on filmmakers from a region that rarley gets attention, opportunities or resources.

    November 2020
  • Javier Fernandez

    Wonderful experience! The staff was super responsive and supportive. There were plenty of outdoor events and community building elements to the festival that were appreciated given the current pandemic.

    November 2020
  • Abraham Felix

    This was a great festival despite the disconnect of COVID in 2020. Really good communication and overall experience

    November 2020