BUFF seeks films that celebrate alternative visions and sounds, offering a platform that connects filmmakers with one another and our intelligent, engaged, and incredibly passionate audience, and encourages new ideas in celebration of work that pushes the envelope in style and content.

We are looking for challenging & exceptional independent features and shorts in the categories of: Dark comedy, genre, bleak sci-fi, cerebral and/or psychedelic horror, strange documentary, fantastic music video, mature animation, weird AF, and/or films that defy description (preferably with a WTF) from all over the world. While we are often lauded as a horror festival, we screen a broad variety of indie subgenres that touch nerves and hearts. We don't like to be easily categorized.

Since 2012, BUFF's primary screening venue has been the historic Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA. In addition to film screenings, BUFF hosts receptions and parties all over Cambridge and Somerville for attending filmmakers, industry guests, audience members, and media.

In 2020, BUFF was forced to cancel its physical edition days before kickoff due to the pandemic. In October of that year, BUFF joined forces with four genre festivals -- Brooklyn Horror Film Festival (NY), North Bend Film Festival (WA), the Overlook Film Festival (LA), and Popcorn Frights Film Festival (FL) -- under the banner of NIGHTSTREAM to present a dynamic and accessible virtual festival. It was bonkers. Then we did it again in 2021. In 2022, we resumed as a standalone physical festival.

We pride ourselves on the caliber of the content we exhibit, the hospitality of our dedicated and 100% volunteer staff, and the passionate community we've fostered here in New England; we hope you'll check us out!

Recent Festival Accolades:
MovieMaker Magazine World's 50 Best Genre Film Festivals 2021
DreadCentral's The Best Horror Festivals in the World 2021
MovieMaker Magazine’s 30 Bloody Best Genre in the World 2019
Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston® 2018 – Best Film Festival

Rather than giving cash or trade value prizes for awards, BUFF doles out a trophy in the shape of a demonic black bunny (after the festival's evil rabbit mascot, Bacchus).

The annual award categories are:
Audience Choice Award -
Best of Fest Short, Best of Fest Feature

Director's Choice (BUFF organizers) -
Best Short, Best Feature

Best First Feature

Best New England Film

*Occasionally, special awards (e.g. Lifetime Achievement) are selected as well.

Films 60 minutes and above are considered feature length. Films under 60 minutes but above 20 minutes are considered medium length. Films under 20 minutes are considered short length. Music videos should be 10 minutes or shorter.

Music video, short, medium length, and feature length submissions must be online screeners; no physical copies accepted. All submissions in a foreign language must be subtitled or dubbed in English. If submitting more than one film, a separate completed entry is required for each title. Due to the volume of submissions we receive, submitted items cannot be returned.

Accepted Feature films must be available on DCP or 35mm (required for exhibition). All accepted short and medium length films must be available on DCP and authored by a professional post-house. "Homebrewed" DCPs will not be accepted under any circumstances. If a filmmaker cannot produce proof of professional DCP authorship, the filmmaker agrees to either allow BudgetDCP (BUFF's official DCP partner) to author a DCP at a discounted rate or to get a DCP authored by a professional post-house (and provide proof thereof). BUFF will not accept digital files as exhibition copies for any films accepted into the festival. While other festivals are able to screen a variety of digital formats, BUFF's venue can only screen professionally authored DCPs, no exceptions.

Selected films are scheduled at the discretion of BUFF. BUFF retains the right to make changes to the published schedule at any time and for any reason. BUFF will notify all filmmakers of acceptance/rejection status via email by no later than March 1, 2024.

All rejected films will be considered for our monthly programming series, Dispatches from the Underground. Throughout the year we screen shorts blocks and feature films that were not selected for the festival; our programming staff will reach out directly to filmmakers if we are interested in screening your work as part of our Dispatches series.

Boston Underground Film Festival (henceforth referred to as BUFF) is hereby granted the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the Festival for promotional purposes. The individual or corporation submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to commit the film for screening and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations. The undersigned shall indemnify and hold harmless BUFF from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening videos entered.

Overall Rating
  • Aidan Payne

    BUFF was a blast. My whole crew came for the screening of our short film and we stayed to watch multiple features including Sick of Myself which we all loved. The screening was so fun in the Brattle theater and we were able to go out for a great bite to eat in Harvard Square. 10/10 would recommend!

    November 2023
  • Sylvea Suydam

    BUFF is the best, don't miss this one!

    June 2023
  • Erica Stockwell-Alpert

    This festival is what first inspired me to start making films. The film selections are great, I especially love the shorts blocks, and most of all they really create a community for filmmakers and film lovers. Getting to watch my film from the balcony of the Brattle was a dream come true.

    May 2023
  • Max Lincoln

    Great, just wish I'd been able to attend!

    May 2023
  • Amazing festival. We screened Petunia to a sold out crowd. Great communication the whole time, got to check out some other awesome films, meet some great people and the parties were well done; def would love to screen here again with future work!

    April 2023