Going into its 22nd year, the 12-day Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) has grown to be the biggest film festival in Alberta and the sixth largest in Canada.

Offering over $20,000 in cash and prizes, the festival awards outstanding films selected by the audience and esteemed juries. Showcasing an average of 200 short and feature length multi-genre films, from Canada and around the world, CIFF is a qualifying, accredited festival for the Academy Awards® and the Canadian Screen Awards.

Located on the edge of North America’s most dynamic filming locations, the festival is known for its hospitality and has been named one of the “Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” by MovieMaker Magazine in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020.

Eligible for audience awards, CIFF 2021 non-juried competition sections include: Late Shows (Genre Films), Music on Screen, Generation Next, Special Presentations and Galas.

Should filmmakers require extensions or have questions, they can contact us at programming@ciffcalgary.ca.

Waivers: We provide fee waiver codes for festival alumni & Alberta productions. Please contact us if needed.

$10,000 CAD : RBC Emerging Canadian Artist Award. This juried award is given to the Canadian director who creates the best first or second narrative feature film.

$5,000 CAD: Best Canadian Documentary Award. This juried award is given to the Candian director who creates the best documentary in the section.

$1,000 CAD: Best International Narrative Feature. This juried award is given to the international director who creates the best film in the section.

$1,000 CAD: Best International Documentary Feature.This juried award is given to the international director who creates the best documentary in the section.

$2,500 CAD : Grand Jury Prize for Best Live Action or Animated Short Film Award. This juried award also qualifies the winner for consideration in the Animated Short Film / Live Action Short Film category of the Academy Awards®, without the standard theatrical run that a film typically needs to qualify for an Oscar® nomination. Additional prizes for short films include:

$1,000 CAD: Best Live Action Short Film Award
$1,000 CAD : Best Documentary Short Film Award
$1,000 CAD: Best Animated Short Film Award
$1,000 CAD : Best Alberta Short Film Award
$1,000 CAD: Best Student Short Film Award
$500 CAD: Youth by Youth Canada Short Film Award

9 x Audience Choice Feature Film Awards - Alberta Feature, Canadian Narrative, Canadian Documentary, International Narrative, International Documentary, Late Shows, Music on Screen, Generation Next, Special Presentations.

4 x Audience Choice Short Film Awards - Alberta, Documentary, Live Action, Animated


We provide fee waiver codes for festival alumni & Alberta productions. Please contact us if needed.


1) The film must not have been exhibited before June 1, 2020 and not previously submitted to the Calgary International Film Festival.

2) FEATURE FILMS MUST be at minimum a Calgary premiere (i.e. the film cannot have been screened publicly in Calgary prior to the 2021 Festival, including broadcast versions of any length, other local film festivals and cast/crew screenings.

3) FEATURE FILMS MUST NOT be or have been available online in any form within the province of Alberta (e.g. iTunes, VOD, Netflix).

4) SHORT FILMS - Priority is given to films that have not yet screened in Calgary and are not yet available online. We do accept competition-based created shorts, where screening online is part of the process (e.g. Telus STORYHIVE).

5) All applicable licenses and waivers of copyrights, moral rights, trademarks and other such intellectual property rights have been secured by the filmmaker(s) .

6) Films not in the English language must be subtitled in English.

7) Films previously submitted to the Festival in any stage of completion (i.e. films that were submitted as rough cuts) will not be reconsidered.

8) Submission fees are NON-REFUNDABLE.

9) Submission deadlines are at 11:59 PM MST of the posted date.

10) Generally, we aim to preview each film a minimum of two times. Some films may only be viewed once if by a programmer or member of programming staff or Artistic Director.

Waivers: We provide fee waiver codes for festival alumni & Alberta productions. Please contact us if needed.

Alberta Short Films: Films must meet the Alberta point requirements to qualify. (Total of 5 points required). In order for the fee to be waived filmmakers must contact the programming department to request a waiver PRIOR to submitting their film. Please contact programming@ciffcalgary.ca.

Albertan location (2 points)
Resident Albertan principle cast member (1 point)
Resident Albertan writer (1 point),
Resident Albertan producer (1 point),
Resident Albertan director (1 point),
Albertan funding source (2 points)

Student Short Film: Must be enrolled in or recently graduated from a post-secondary institution. Must send a copy of student i.d., transcript or signed letter from a professor on university letterhead to programming@ciffcalgary.ca OR upload a copy to FilmFreeway.

Youth by Youth Canada: Must be 18 or under at the time of filming and a Canadian resident. Must send a copy of student i.d., driver's license, or signed letter verifying age and Canadian residency from a teacher on school letterhead to programming@ciffcalgary.ca OR upload a copy to FilmFreeway.

Overall Rating
  • Brandon Abbott

    We were honored that "Dustin Clark: the Humanity in Who we Are" was selected for Calgary International Film Festival. They were awesome to work with. I was disappointed that I was unable to attend do to COVID travel restrictions, but CIFF did a great job giving visual access to events.

    November 2020
  • FREYA Films Inc.

    We had our world premiere at the 2020 festival and despite the circumstances of a pandemic it was an amazing experience! We made the journey to attend our in person screening and felt very safe with all the precautions the festival had put in place. The staff, especially the shorts programmer Adam, went out of their way to host us and show us a good time, which made such a difference when there were no events or parties because of Covid. This is a festival that truly cares about the filmmakers. Thanks CIFF!

    October 2020
  • Katya Ustinova

    The festival had a fantastic lineup and we were honored to play Shtetlers at CIFF 2020. I wish we could come to Calgary in person but even despite travel bans and restrictions we had an amazing experience online and were able to see over 10 feature films and a bunch of shorts from around the world. The festival organizers did a terrific job turning their website into an online platform which looked so much like a real festival for us streaming from New York. We feel honored to be a part of this outstanding programming and hope to come in the future with our new projects. Special thanks to Brian in believing in our film and Lauren Avinoam for producing. Great experience on all levels, communication included. Highly recommended to submit.

    October 2020
  • Lije Morgan

    Absolutely the best festival I have attended--even though it was virtual! Everyone running the festival was so kind and communication with prompt and very transparent. Getting to speak on the young filmmakers panel was one of the highlights of my quarantine!

    October 2020
  • Sam Coyle

    It was such an incredible experience to play our film at CIFF. Obviously with the pandemic there have been many hurdles in the festival circuit but CIFF did a wonderful job making us feel special. Giving us a hybrid option to screen our film online and in theatres. Having the chance to share our film on the big screen was so rewarding. They took all the right precautions to have a safe, distanced and clean viewing experience. I can't wait to go back to this festival!!

    October 2020