The COVEN Film Festival is a Charming Stranger Films, LLC production, devoted to films by emerging women and non-binary filmmakers from the San Francisco Bay Area and around the world. 

Our event features 3 days of films, panels, Q&As with filmmakers and excellent networking opportunities.

Festival passes include: access to all films, Q&As with filmmakers, panels, networking events and awards party. Proceeds to benefit Cinefemme.

This event spotlights women and non-binary storytellers, and recognizes that not every person is young, white, middle-class, cisgender, or able-bodied. Our mission is to amplify these stories -- emphasizing indigenous, differently-abled and people of color -- told by women or non-binary creators.

COVEN Film Festival reserves the right to change our programming without notice.

Grand Jury Awards:
- Best Film (COVEN Award) with a $500 cash prize
- Best Short Film with a $250 cash prize

Audience Award
One Audience Award is chosen by Festivalgoers themselves through ballots cast at the theaters after screenings.

Sponsor Awards:
Smarthouse Creative Distribution Award
Winners will receive a 60-minute call with one of the founders of film marketing and publicity agency Smarthouse Creative to discuss strategies and tactics to get their film out to a wider audience and/or how to best leverage their film to help launch their career.

Please only submit if you are willing to provide a DCP format file for exhibition if accepted to screen at the Festival. 

Our partner SimpleDCP offers a 20% discount to all selected films.


Entering a film into the COVEN Film Festival implies the acceptance of the following regulations. Please completely fill out the Filmfreeway Entry Form. A separate Entry Form is required for each film being submitted. We accept online submissions through FilmFreeway only.

STUDENT FILMMAKERS must complete this submission form to be approved for the student discount rate.

If you are a filmmaker in a country that doesn't allow you to pay submission fees or you're in a bad economic situation, please fill out this submission form to be considered for a waver code for the festival.


Films must be directed or co-directed by a woman or non-binary individuals.
We accept all films of any length and genre that have been completed after September 1st, 2018. We welcome narratives, documentaries, animations and student films.

Rough cuts and works-in-progress are eligible, but must be completed
before Dec 1st, 2019.

Films should not be available on demand or any streaming services prior to the festival.


By entering your film for consideration to the 2020 COVEN Film Festival, you authorise that your work is cleared for festival exhibition and accept full legal responsibility for the intellectual property therein. The submitter and all filmmakers associated with the project shall indemnify and hold harmless the COVEN Film Festival and any representative or affiliates 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.


If accepted to screen at the Festival, the entrant agrees to provide a DCP format file for exhibition. Foreign language films must be subtitled in English. Any costs associated with any subtitling or formatting is the sole responsibility of the entrant. Our partner SimpleDCP offers a 20% discount.

Festival laurels will be provided to all Official Selections and Award Winners. Films should be presented in their original versions with English language subtitles or commentary where necessary.

By submitting, you agree that the Festival is allowed to use film stills, film posters, and trailers, and share them on social media sites and on the Festival website. Prints may be made, including film posters and stills of all selected films.

The Festival does not pay screening fees. Please submit your film via the online submission platforms. By submitting, you agree that your film can be screened without a screening fee.

Terms and conditions updated June 2019.

Overall Rating
  • Motion Hr

    Amazing initiative and screening, amazing team who are in communication with filmmakers. One of my favorites.

    July 2019
  • Sarah K Reimers

    This is a first-class festival! Thoughtfully hosted and carefully curated. The communication was excellent and I met some wonderful film-makers from all over the U.S. This is a film-festival designed by film-makers who've been to A LOT of festivals and know what works and what doesn't. They also put a lot of energy into building and supporting their community. I can't recommend COVEN highly enough.

    February 2019
  • Jody Miller

    Coven started out right and got even "righter"!

    The communication prior to the fest was TOP NOTCH. They were always accessible & patient - even answering the most novice questions if we had em prior to the fest and to say Melinda and her team were accommodating is an understatement.

    And things just got more amazing from there.

    The second we walked into the Kabuki Hotel (which was kick-a** btw) we were greeted with "Hey! We know you guys!", which made us feel amazing, welcome and expected.

    Hotel accommodations were top notch and very cool. The filmmakers lounge was in the KABUKI as well and provided every snack and supply you would need. Meals were provided throughout the day and pretty damn good.

    The hotel is located half a block from the theater. So let's talk about the theater. Wow!!!! Your film will look and sound GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!!! We were blown away by this state of the art tech and we were VERY honored to say we have screened there. You will be SO proud to see your film on that screen!!!!

    I would love to go on and on about this entire experience ... but ill try to sum it up ... Second to NONE. Wonderfully curated (the level of talent was OUTRAGEOUS!!!!! and an honor to be among), networking was so fun, the ENTIRE Coven team is a gang of badass humans who are passionate, talented, caring and fkn daring. This will be a "destination festival" without a doubt! I'm gonna work hard to be able to come back thats for sure.

    Thank you Coven.

    February 2019
  • Alexi Scheiber

    Wow! Going to Coven will be a precious memory to me for a long time. The organizers were generous, hardworking, intersectional feminists. Everything was amazing, but let’s break it down:
    -curation: amazing films with diverse leads, narrative structures, genres, and directors. Not a single dud.
    -networking: what a positive atmosphere of people who wanted to uplift women! Got a lot of business cards I still have to write messages to.
    -the venue and hotel were awesome, it was also great to meet Native activists and learn about the lands history.
    -even the application: it was great to have a women’s film fest acknowledging that our films didn’t have to be explicitly about womanhood (many are limited in this way), and that the application fee was affordable! Many women’s festivals are upwards of 20$ for shorts, which creates class barriers in an already demanding field.

    My only complaint was the festival should’ve been 2 days! the scheduling got a little tight and we had to rush through the amazing healthy meals that came with our badges at the filmmakers lounge. Please, sponsors/donors/investors, give this team what they need to make a Coven year 2, over 2 or 3 days this time.

    February 2019
  • Elaine Del Valle

    Fabulous! I can’t say enough about the team and the intention. I loved all the films and the power behind all of the people. It’s also in historic japan town and if you can get there early or stay a day later it’s great. I applaud this fest and loved everyone I met there!

    February 2019