Going into its 21st 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 2020 non-juried competition sections include: Late Shows (Genre Films), Music on Screen, Generation Next, Special Presentations and Galas.

COVID-19 Update: The CIFF programming team, with the help of our previewers, are currently reviewing and selecting films for the 21st edition of the fall festival. As COVID-19 restrictions may impact this year’s operations, we are working on a number of contingency plans to deliver the festival to our audience and continue to champion Canadian and International cinema. All advertised awards will be presented regardless of what shape the festival takes. Additionally, we acknowledge the pandemic has also impacted production and post-production schedules.

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

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 have been completed after June 1, 2019 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 2020 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.

Overall Rating
  • Keith Lawrence

    We had a wonderful experience being apart of the 2019 festival. The hosts and staff were top notch. The festival is very filmmaker orientated with a passion and eye for promoting locally produced films and showcasing great Indigenous-made films as well. Would highly recommend.

    January 2020
  • One of the best festivals ive been to! Great team, great communication, world class hospitality, and even better movies. I will definitely be back to CIFF! :)

    November 2019
  • William Crouse

    We had a wonderful time exhibiting LOWLAND KIDS at CIFF this year! Producer Lauren Avinoam also really enjoyed serving on their jury for the first time, the quality of the films was great and very well curated by a talented team led by Brian Owens. His strategy for programming and his dedication to high level filmmaking really made the programming special! Glad I was able to join and look forward to going back with another project/ or as a juror soon!

    Lauren Avinoam

    November 2019
  • Justin Miller

    Can't believe this festival has only two reviews. This was my first time to Canada, and I can't have imagined a better introduction. The festival communication was top-notch. I met a lot of Calgarians and filmmakers, and probably got to know the festival staff about as well as any other festival I've attended. They were extremely accommodating, and the screenings were out of control amounts of fun. Packed theaters and people screaming their heads off at my comedy short. The festival programming was excellent, to boot. I saw some amazing films well before their theatrical releases. Hope it is the first of many CIFFs, for me.

    December 2018
  • Where do we start?! The programmers were prompt in every response and went above and beyond to make sure our clients films were screened to the best ability. We rate this as one of the best Canadian festivals definitely and recommend filmmakers seriously consider it for their films. Great festival!

    December 2017