The Byron Bay International Film Festival - Shining Light in Darkness

Byron Bay was known as the meeting place for the traditional land owners - the Arakwal people and each year Australian and International film talent join thousands of film lovers at BBFF, in our beautiful beachside town, for a dynamic and truly distinctive film festival experience known for its trademark friendly, laid-back vibe and characteristically open, expressive and appreciative audiences.

We ran two special physical editions of the Festival during 2020 and 2021 as BBFF is an extremely social festival and streaming content just did not feel right for us. We were fortunate here in Australia that covid was under control at the time.

Our 2022 edition was held across 3 different cinema venues and also included a Full Dome.

Independent filmmakers are the heart and soul of this festival, whose quality programming of hundreds of entertaining, inspiring and eye-opening films from over 40 countries sets the stage for filmmakers at all stages of their careers to showcase outstanding work across all genres.

Mix business with pleasure at the gala red carpet openingnight party, or simply over a quiet drink at the sunset bar, mingling with leading Australian and international industry figures, and where you can make new friends, spark ideas and collaborate.

“BBFF will grow into a ‘go-to event’ because of the way BBFF enables filmmakers to exchange ideas.”
BBFF Patrons, Actor Jack Thompson & Film Reviewer Peter Thompson

As a BBFF VIP Accepted Filmmakers are given the opportunity to expand their horizons with free masterclasses, workshops, seminars, networking drinks and parties.

The festival is also passionate about Virtual Reality and the opportunities it creates for filmmakers. 2016 saw the introduction of 2 new awards for Virtual Reality Creators and a number of events that were aimed at established VR Developers as well as those looking to dive into this new realm. The Realities Mediums are no token gesture at this festival - for the past 5 years BBFF has held Co_Lab_Create - a Realities Thinktank for Professionals already working in the field attracting World Leaders from Australia and across the Globe. This event has been designed - and is proven - to create business outcomes for attendees.

It’s all just a short stroll from world class beaches, great cafes, bars and restaurants, live music, shopping and the colourful, cruisy and creative streetscape, for which Byron Bay is renowned.

“We have travelled the world with our film, from Berlinale to San Francisco International Film Festival, and the Byron Bay Film Festival is absolutely world class - filmmaker friendly, professionally run, and featuring top notch, bleeding-edge independent films. Add the inspirational setting and the people, and the gestalt is pure magic!”
- David Lee Miller, Filmmaker, USA

If your creativity is cutting edge and you have a message to tell, be a part of this humanistic festival that’s fusing artistry, education and innovation to enhance our worldview and collective social dialogue through the power and storytelling of film.


An alternative lifestyle mecca, surfers' utopia, filmmakers' hub and millionaires' playground. Byron Bay's vibrant, artistic, freethinking community is a melting pot like no other.

The Byron Bay International Film Festival is an Australian Film Festival that screens a diverse programme of films, of ALL LENGTHS and ALL GENRES, many of which reflect the interests and values of our unique local community - maintaining a strong emphasis on social and environmental issues, human rights, diversity and multiculturalism, creativity, indigenous culture, spirit, healing, connecting to nature, conscious thinking and positive living, music of every variety, colourful characters, humour and, of course being Byron Bay, surfing.

BBFF provides a platform for independent filmmakers in all stages of their careers. We believe in creating opportunities wherever possible and we aim to profile selected filmmakers and promote their films both before and after our festival. We bring the work of talented creatives to an appreciative and intelligent audience and our festival is supported by some of the heavyweights of the Australian Film Industry.

Byron Bay is said to have the highest concentration of filmmakers in Australia outside of a metropolitan area. The inaugural Byron Bay Film Festival was held in February 2006 and focused solely on Australian films and the back catalogue of our local filmmakers. Byron Bay is a magnet for people from all around the globe both passing through or making Byron their home and so it seemed fitting that BBFF should metamorphosis into an International Film Festival.

BBFF is supported by Australian Film Industry leaders, distribution companies, TV buyers and film industry organizations that provide judges for us creating further opportunities for participating filmmakers. Filmmakers are shown hospitality at our Filmmakers Bar and a number of invitation only events.

Our selection panel has extremely diverse tastes, as does our local audience. Life in Byron Bay is about as ideal as it gets and so as well as bringing our audience films which resonate with their lives and interests we like to transport our audience away from their sub-tropical paradise and let them experience stories, people and places worlds away.

Although the bulk of our programming is aimed towards an adult audience we run family-friendly screenings as well as screenings for local schools and so we are always on the lookout for great family/children-friendly films.

In Australia, and increasing world-wide, Byron Bay is renowned for our quality of life - a small yet cosmopolitan town with miles of white sandy beaches, clear blue sea and some of the best surf breaks in Australia, surrounded by lush sub-tropical rainforests and picturesque rolling countryside.

Originally a whaling town Byron Bay was first invaded by surfers and then soon after hippies who lingered on after the Aquarius Festival which was Australia's Woodstock. In the 80's some of the biggest names of Australian film bought property in and around the bay and A-list celebrities continue to buy property and holiday here. Byron is home to some of the biggest festivals in Australia including the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival, Splendour in the Grass and The Byron Bay Writer's Festival.

Young Australian directors under 25 have the chance to win our Young Australian Filmmaker of the Year award.

All films entered will automatically be considered for nomination in any award categories that the film might qualify for during the selection process. BBFF awards include but are not limited to Best Film, Documentary, Short Film, Drama, Cinematography, Surf Film, Animation, Experimental Film, Environmental Film, Music Video, Best Young Australian Filmmaker (open to Australian Director’s under 25) and an award for the Best Local Film.

BBFF is renown world-wide for cutting edge curation and we have added Immersive Content to our expansive and engaging program of screen content - widening perceptions of the evolution of film and technology and introducing the new frontiers of the story-telling and the artistic expressions of tomorrow.

2016 saw the introduction of two new award categories - BBFF Best Achievement in a Virtual Reality 360 degree Experience (Interactive) and BBFF Best Achievement in a Virtual Reality 360 degree Experience (Linear). As content and adoption grow we plan to continue to add other specialised awards in this field.

We also host the Byron Bay International Film Festival Screenplay Competition which has a first prize of AU$1000. The top 3 finalists traditionally receive the latest Final Draft Screenwriting software.

Please note because of the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in globally if the festival is postponed or canceled (due to an emergency beyond our control) your submission will be considered for the next edition of the festival.

The Byron Bay International Film Festival is open to films of all lengths and all genres and warmly welcomes all accepted filmmakers to attend. Except for those films entered out of competition all films must not have screened before January 2020. Films previously submitted to BBFF are not eligible for re-submission.

Screenwriters please read the rules at the end of this section.

Entries must be postmarked by the entry dates specified. A separate submission, disks and entry fee is required for each individual film's submission.

Please ensure you have filled out all sections of the entry form. If your film is selected. The synopsis you provide will be used in our promotional material.

Accepted filmmakers using FilmFreeway's Screener system must ensure they have made their films accessible for download in the appropriate exhibition format without delay.


We are an environmentally conscious event - it is our preference to receive digital copies of films - as this reduces environmental waste and carbon footprints. It is our policy to encourage you the filmmakers to reduce your won carbon footprint - we discourage physical screeners and we will not to return them unless you provide a pre-paid envelop or a courier pick-up.

Providing us with a high resolution screener copy is preferable, if you are sending us some kind of physical screener (USB key) for viewing by the selection committee when received these will be quickly captured and quality checked. Due to the volume of submissions if copies are found to be faulty the film submission will automatically be rejected with no refunds.

Unless you possess a DCP copy of your film we will consider your screening copy to be the Exhibition version of the film (therefore High Definition delivery via USB Thumb Drive, vimeo download etc is preferable). For this reason Screener Films should NOT have burnt-in time-code or watermark titles (excluding subtitles).

We love Vimeo, hopefully you do too - if you opt to send us a link to your film on vimeo please make sure the download option is activated on Vimeo and/or FilmFreeway upon acceptance.

Out of fairness to other filmmakers BBFF only accepts films which are works in progress during our Extended deadlines and do so only with prior permission from BBFF. We require that what is presented is a final edit with only colour grading, the credits or a final sound mix left undone as film duration is a major deciding factor. Again we stress that all filmmakers considering submitting a rough cut contact the festival directly first for prior approval.

Our primary method of screening is DCP although one or two of our venues still screen using a hard-drive based system capable of all resolutions up to 1080p High Definition and E-Cinema formats. We are happy to accept Direct Downloads, Films on Portable Hard Drives, USB Drives and HD versions of your film on Vimeo.

The filmmaker is responsible for any transfers necessary to ensure their film is in one of the preferred formats. If necessary the festival will create your film in a DCP format which is compatible with our venues' systems.

As stated previously filmmakers are welcome to provide their film in a High Res Exhibition Format (ex DCP) as their copy for consideration.

DO NOT place colour bars, ID slates or long periods of black at the head (or tail) of films.

DO NOT place colour bars, ID slates or long periods of black at the head (or tail) of films. Yes we meant to put that in twice - it's very important that filmmakers understand that by including them you are creating a lot of extra work for our technical team.

Feature length films and Australian Premieres may be accepted for late submission after entries have closed subject to the number of entries already received and BBFF's programming needs.

Failure to provide a screening copy before the time our official selection is announced will result in disqualification. We also reserve the right to screen the version of the film that we have in our possession at the time of announcement of the Official Selection - it is not ok to suddenly drop a new version of your film on us (or any other festival) at the 11th hour.

For further queries regarding screener and/or exhibition formats email:

All efforts will be made to notify filmmakers by email of entry status by Sept 1st 2021.

While all entries are handled with care, BBFF is not responsible for any loss or damage.

Selected Filmmakers will receive 4 tickets for their films screening if their film is part of a mixed session. Further tickets for filmmakers whose films are screening singularly or with one other film or are premieres will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. The further you travel the greater your VIP access.

All films, except those out of competition, selected for BBFF are in the running to be selected as nominees for awards in their appropriate categories as well as others such as Best Film, Cinematography etc.

BBFF does not pay the filmmakers. Our resources are invested in creating and promoting the optimum platform for your work.

Nominations will be announced before the festival.

More information is available at or if you have any specific queries about entry or terms and conditions please email us at

The Byron Bay International Film Festival Screenplay Contest is an international contest open to screenwriters from all over the world.

Open to contestants of all ages, although entrants under 18 must have the written permission of a parent or guardian to enter.

Open ONLY to feature length screenplays in all genres. No treatments. No concepts.

All screenplays must be between 80 and 120 pages in length. Screenplays under 80 pages or over 120 pages will be ineligible. Contestants who submit screenplays that do not adhere to these guidelines will not be reimbursed.

All screenplays must be in English.

All screenplays must be industry standard format (Courier 12pt font). Screenplays that do not adhere to this guideline will be ineligible and contestants will not be reimbursed.

The title page of the screenplay must ONLY contain the title of the script. NO OTHER INFORMATION - no names, no addresses, no contact details. Contestants who do not adhere to this guideline will not be reimbursed.

All entries must be uploaded as a PDF and submitted electronically.

The entry fee(s) are in United States dollars and are non-refundable.

The contest is open to anyone, except employees, directors, associates and immediate family of the Byron Bay International Film Festival, and screenwriters who have earned more than $30,000 U.S. (gross) from their screenwriting endeavors in the calendar year leading up to the Byron Bay International Film Festival on any given year.

Multiple entries are permissible, but a separate entry form and entry fee must be submitted for each entry.

Once a screenplay is entered, no substitutions, new drafts or corrections will be accepted.

All entries must be the original work of the writer(s).

It is highly recommended that contestants register their work with the Writers' Guild of America (WGA).

Contestants retain all rights to their work.

Collaborations are acceptable and contestants are responsible for the distribution of contest prizes.

Adaptations from other material are acceptable only if the contestant(s) have written permission to adapt the work.

The screenplay must not be in a current option agreement and if the material is optioned after being entered it will be ineligible for consideration and contestant(s) will not be reimbursed. The screenplay may not have been previously sold or produced for profit.

Winners of cash prizes are responsible for their own income tax. The contestant(s) understand and accept that they are independent contractors and that the contest administrators are not responsible for withholding any taxes or payments on prize money to any government agency in their country.

Contestants will be contacted via email ONLY once they have submitted their material and paid the appropriate entry fee in full.

Contestants will be kept up to date on the Byron Bay International Film Festival website about the progress of the contest.

If a contestant is awarded a cash prize, the contestant is responsible for providing an accurate/up to date PayPal address or bank account details to receive the cash prize.

The decision of the judges is final and shall not be disputed.

Overall Rating
  • Pamela van Amstel

    The BBIFF screenplay award was my first film festival win. Thank you for the judge's feedback. I hope to get there personally in the future.

    November 2022
  • Matty Hannon

    Holding the World Premiere of my feature doc at BBFF was a dream come true, not only is the festival a fantastic spectacle that outdoes itself as a 'regional' event, but the personal care taken by J'aimee and Ossie and the BBFF team to make sure my world premiere felt special to me (not just a regular screening) was incredibly thoughtful and well-managed.

    I will definitely be submitting to the festival into the future, and would encourage others to do the same for what is inevitably becoming one of Australia's favourites. Thank you!

    November 2022
  • Antonio Messina

    I live in Italy. Participating via the Internet in festivals held on the opposite side of the world risks making people forget that everything happens in the real world, where a torrential rain can cause damage and organizational difficulties. That is why I am grateful to the Byron Bay Film Festival for sticking it out and putting on an interesting festival, despite the inconveniences. I am even more grateful for having had the rare opportunity to know the motivations behind placing my screenplay "Maconochie" among the finalists. I hope to continue writing to participate again as well, hopefully in good weather. :-)

    November 2022
  • Amazing film festival with excellent taste

    November 2022
  • Angelika Fürstler

    I can't even put in words how amazing, special, wonderful, profound & life changing the Byron Bay International Film Festival is...✨💫 it is one of the TOP conscious film festivals around the world and I am sooo grateful to have been part of this amazing film festival with my very first short film LOTUS 🌸 What an incredibly amazing experience the entire film festival team is creating every year - despite the outer circumstances.

    The selected films are simply deeply transformational and profoundly touching - I would say life changing. The BYRON BAY International Film Festival plays an essential role for positive change in the world. I highly recommend everybody to be part of it - whether as a film maker or fan of conscious cinema.
    Thank you for all you do BBIF 💜 keep it up 🙌
    With all my love & gratitude,

    Producer, Director & Actress of LOTUS

    February 2022