Catalina Film Festival® has been in the elite 1% of festivals always ranking as the TOP 20-40 on FilmFreeway's "Top 100 Best Reviewed Festivals" (out of 10,000+ worldwide) since the list was created 10 years ago. That accolade comes directly from our filmmakers we love so much! CFF is also proud to be on MovieMaker Magazine's current "50 Film Festivals Worth The Entry Fee" list, and since they only recognize festivals that put the filmmakers' value and experience first and foremost, that is another huge honor for us to hold.

The Catalina Film Institute's (CFI) non-profit mission is to help foster the growth of our filmmakers’ IMAGINATION, EDUCATION and DESTINATION while promoting film and the rich cinema history of Catalina Island and Southern California to the world’s arts and entertainment community.

Through our annual Catalina Film Festival®, the most historic and unique film festival in the world, and other branches like Catalina Film Society, Catalina Film Distribution, Catalina Film Radio Program, The Lions’ Den® pitch panel, and the Catalina Film & New Media Summit, CFI strives to offer educational seminars, introspective Q and A’s, workshops, industry panels and networking events. We offer our attendees exposure to the worldwide film industry through a wide spectrum of cinema, social interactions, and educational experiences.

Our mission is designed to help create a platform for our filmmakers to be seen, but more importantly, provide them with industry exposure to help sustain their destiny within the craft for many years to come.

Hosted completely within Los Angeles County cities and on our namesake island, Catalina, Hollywood's famous and historic “Island to The Stars”. CFF is one of the world’s premier film events garnering 100's of Billion media impressions worldwide!

The beauty of clear blue water on a sub-tropical island is right here in Hollywood’s backyard with all its majestic iconic firsts in cinematic history. Catalina is where Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille all screened the first “talkie” films in the world’s first movie theatre built for sound (a 1,184-seat movie palace) inside the world-famous Avalon Casino building (opening May 29, 1929). This exotic island has been entertaining Hollywood’s elite for over 100 years. Catalina was once home to Marilyn Monroe, hosted 30 years of Chicago Cubs baseball spring training (where sportscaster Ronald Reagan was discovered by Warner Brothers), and has been California's vacation spot for all of yesterday’s and today’s stars; from Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Orson Welles, Natalie Wood, Errol Flynn, Mickey Rooney, Winston Churchill, Jane Mansfield, Harrison Ford, Barbara Streisand, Richard Dreyfuss, Katy Perry, Ryan Gosling, Sharon Stone, Robert Downey, Jr., Kate Bosworth, Leonardo DiCaprio, William H. Macy, Andy Garcia, Roman Coppola, Emmy Rossum and many more.

Our live and online festival starts in our sister-city, Long Beach, CA, for our “Long Beach Launch” with multiple screenings, panels and fun parties with our partner and venue, the Scottish Rite Cultural Center, before launching to our namesake Catalina Island for a weekend of fun. All venues and locations are within walking, biking and/or shuttle distance. The festival’s on-line competition is for all our filmmakers to have greater exposure to our attendees, industry executives, press/media, distributors, and investors hosted on our trusted and encrypted platform. This also gives live attendees the chance to see films they’ve missed and for our filmmakers that don’t screen live to be able to tell people where they can see their film as they walk our red carpet and do interviews. Attractions on the island range from enjoying the clear blue-water beaches from a cabana, glass-bottom boat tours, zip-lines, world-class scuba-diving and snorkeling, hiking, camping, kayaking, para-sailing, wild-life bus tours, shopping, massage/spa, golf, miniature golf, botanical gardens, bike rentals, golf cart rentals, and so much more...

There are festival party cruises, yacht services and transport ferries that will take you from Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties, as well as helicopter and airplane rides that take only 15 minutes from the mainland. Our late night boat off the island grants you the gives you full festival access & networking without having to stay overnight… Once on the island, you feel like you entered into an exotic destination; but remember, you're still in Los Angeles County, so you don't have to change your currency!

The Golden Fox / "Zorro" del Oro:

The most honored prize of the Catalina Film Festival® awarded to the jurors' top pick for Best Director. This golden statuette award can go to the director of any competitive film entered into the film festival, within any length, category or genre. Top sponsored prizes vary from year to year with the contributions offered from that year's partners.

"Best of Fest" for (Your Film Category):
Crystal Trophy with various Sponsored Festival prizes (prizes and values vary from year to year and aren't usually secured until closer to the event). The dollar value fluctuates each year dependent upon what our generous sponsors offer in the form of industry packages, services, and gifts. Our winning categories are never promised to receive a prize other than our crystal trophy, as anything additional depends on our sponsors' generosity.
Goods/Services Value: Past festivals have been up to $50,000 (US dollars) worth of prizes.

Special Jury Award of Excellence for (Your Film Category):
Framed Certificate with various Sponsored Festival prizes (prizes and values vary from year to year and aren't usually secured until closer to the event). This category is not promised to receive prizes other than our framed certificate, as anything additional depends on our sponsors' generosity.
Goods/Services Value: Past festivals have been up to $5,000 (US dollars) worth of prizes.

Various "Best" Individual & Ensemble Awards (Your Film Category):
Honors with various Sponsored Festival prizes (prizes and values vary from year to year and aren't usually secured until closer to the event). The dollar value fluctuates each year dependent upon what our generous sponsors offer in the form of industry packages, services, and gifts. Our winners are never promised to receive a prize other than our honor, as anything additional depends on our sponsors' generosity.

All of our films are in competition for every award, whether your venue is physically in one of our festival theatres or screening in our online theaters hosted by

Revised October, 2022

All films must have a completion date NO GREATER than 2 years before the first day of this film festival (with the exception of our Conservation category). Once already exhibited and/or tracked online, re-edits and/or changes of title do not count as a new completion date for your project. Scripts do not have a completion date restriction unless the project was produced into a film NO GREATER than 2 years before the first day of this festival.

LENGTH: These running times must be inclusive of all titles and credits:

Short Films: 1-40 minutes (Under 25 minutes preferred for programming needs)
Feature Films: 50-180 minutes

Short Films Length (& Festival Programming Pains Explained):
The Catalina Film Institute believes "short" films should be... SHORT (25 minutes and under are preferred). We believe this is a reasonable industry standard for any film festival's programming needs when programming 120 minute programming blocks (90 minute film program, filmmakers' Q and A, venue load-in/ loud-out). Longer short films will be considered, and have been accepted in the past, but we believe they push the envelope of what is considered an industry standard “short”, also, they take up a greater portion of the film block; keeping our judges from highlighting 2-5 more great short films (usually 5-10 minutes long) that would be rejected to accept longer films. To put it more simply, a 40 minute short is more than 1/3 the length of your average feature film, therefore it will dominate a short film block when programmed. We recognize The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences accepts films 40 Minutes or less, as do we, but CFF also has the additional hurdle of programming 200+ films within all our 2 hour film blocks. Please know your chances of getting in are exponentially greater the shorter your "short" film is in length.

FEATURE FILMS: A World, North American, USA, West Coast, California and Los Angeles Premieres are preferred, not required. WITH THAT SAID, for eligibility; other LOS ANGELES PREMIERES / SCREENINGS can NOT be within 30 days before or during our festival within Los Angeles County. You do not qualify for our festival if you are screening/premiering in Los Angeles County within 30 days from our event. Films that have been exhibited theatrically outside of the festival circuit, broadcast on TV, the Internet, released to the public via any home video or other distribution platform including, but not limited to, pre-sales for DVD, Blu-ray or video on demand (outside of the Festival Circuit) are not eligible for the Festival. Films with distribution deals that are only traveling the festival circuit, and are not being publicly exhibited or displayed, are still eligible for competition.

STUDENT FILMMAKERS (Any aged person with proof of attending a film school, institute, academy, or program that their project is a result of). Please indicate the ages of the film's writer, director, and producer in your submission. Student filmmakers have the right to submit their film into any of the non-student film categories. If so, you will have to pay the full price for that category and agree to compete against professional filmmakers within that respective category.

FILMMAKERS UNDER 18 YEARS OLD: You must have a parent or legal guardian submit the film on your behalf to qualify.

DEADLINES: Deadlines are firm, so please send us your project within 14 days of submission and payment. Please contact us if this is a problem and/or you need extra time. If submitting to our very Last Deadline for entries, you must send your project within 7 days of payment (without any possible extensions) or it will run the risk of not being reviewed or considered by our screening judges.


ONLINE SUBMISSIONS IN HIGH DEFINITION ONLY. This also allows your film to be reviewed by our screeners/reviewers as quickly as possible.

Please submit your project digitally through this site or some other acceptable secure online screening format with your submission.

This film festival is used to help the Catalina Film Institute’s non-profit mission sustain and thrive to help foster the growth of filmmakers all year long. CFI WILL NOT PAY to ship any print, exhibition copy, or print materials back to you (as that would be a large expense for our organization). If you do wish to have materials sent back, you must provide us with a pre-paid envelope and/or pre-paid shipping label if you need any materials sent back to you or to another festival following ours. No exhibition copy is allowed to be picked up at the film festival unless our Tech Department signs off on it, as we are fully responsible for the safety and security of your material until the last day of the event.

SUBTITLES: All non-English language films must be subtitled or dubbed in English. Please make sure they are embedded into your film, not separate or optional subtitle files on a menu; they sometimes do not carry over to the digital film you've submitted.

ENTRY FEES: Non-refundable. We DO NOT give refunds on submission fees, so please do not ask. Once your film is submitted we have 3 film-industry screening professionals look over and grade each project.

PLEASE SUBMIT A DIGITAL PRESS KIT ON HERE! DO NOT SEND PRINTED PRESS MATERIALS, BIOS AND OTHER PROMOTIONAL ITEMS with your submissions. Not only will your film be viewed on its own merit by my multiple judges that won't see your printed materials, it only fills up the office with a lot of paper and product that we end up having to recycle or throw away.

AFTER SUBMISSION ACCEPTANCE: In order for your title to be included in the Festival, you must agree to provide the following materials to CFF within 14 days of acceptance:
1. For film, at least one to three production and/or screen shots of your project (not behind the scenes production shots). Format requirements will be sent to you upon acceptance.
2. A trailer of the film uploaded to us (we will send you an upload link) with the required format we need to promote your project to the world, media, and throughout the festival on our projection screens, website and social media channels (advantageous for short films as well).
3. Exhibition format of your project will depend on the venue we program your film into, delivered no later than 14 days after acceptance (various digital formats can be used in all venues, but DCP is only used in select venues we exhibit within).
4. Copies of digital press releases and additional press materials after acceptance ONLY, please do not send printed materials with submissions before you're accepted, it fills up the office with a lot of paper and product we end up having to recycle or throw away.
5. If you are available to attend the festival with crew and/or talent, please let us know in your cover letter. Once accepted into the festival, we will also send you an online form asking you who will be attending and how you are getting to the festival and the island.

CFF prefers HD digital formats for exhibiting High-Definition Films, or DCP ONLY if you're placed in a venue that can support DCP. Because our festival is partly on an island without tech resources readily available like mainland events, a finalized and QC'd Blu-Ray backup copy is also required in case digital media fails for any reason (this has happened in previous years).

MAKE SURE YOUR EXHIBITION FILM (OR BACKUP COPY) DOES NOT HAVE A WATERMARK ON IT WHEN YOU SEND IT LIKE “Property of XYZ Films” - THIS COULD END UP BEING IN FRONT OF OUR AUDIENCE if you can't send us another in time. Your films are safe with us, we have a long history of protecting filmmakers intellectual property.

Participants agree that their film, clips from it and/or all other material related to their project may be used and/or published in the event program, on CFF's website, social media, and/or our media partners as well as for any other promotional purposes which CFF deems appropriate for the festival. CFF can use up to 10% or 3 minutes of your project for promotional use (whichever is less).

CFF holds no responsibility for lost or damaged media files. While the utmost care is taken with regard to your exhibition media, it is solely up to the filmmaker to take full responsibility (i.e. insurance). The cost of delivery and pick-up of all materials is the responsibility of the filmmaker. CFF WILL NOT PAY FOR MEDIA TO BE RETURNED, as that would be very costly for our non-profit organization with over 100 films accepted and exhibited annually.

If selected, all commercial/private property including all trademark/copyrighted materials shown or recorded on the project is the responsibility of the filmmaker. By submitting you agree to indemnify the Catalina Film Institute and all its subsidiaries, AKA’s, employee’s, directors, assigns, staff and volunteers from any wrongdoing involving the exhibition of your project. CFI will NOT take responsibility for any infringement of copy written materials and reserves the right to reject your project if found it doesn't have clearance.

Participation with our online component of the film festival is only to the advantage of our officially selected filmmakers. We established this component before the Covid-19 pandemic. CFI uses an encrypted password protected and established online film viewing service that will only be available to our film festival enthusiasts around the festival dates (this enables us to have online award-winning voting in addition to live festival awards). Filmmakers will benefit from worldwide industry exposure that the Catalina Film Festival garners for our films year after year. Accepting to have your film a part of this live and online component is safe and keeps your film within the festival circuit, still keeping it qualified for other festivals.
All the same rules in this document still apply and are agreed to if you later elect to be a part of the online component of our film festival. Filmmakers in our online competition get all the same access, passes, perks (red carpet interviews with media) and experiences as our filmmakers programmed in physical festival venues, but actually have greater exposure to those audience members that can't physically see your film in one of our venues (attendees, press, distributors or industry members we supply access to).

You are still eligible if you have a festival distribution deal or release after our dates, but no film project with at-large theatrical distribution and/or release dates before or during the festival's programmed dates will be eligible for submission, acceptance and/or exhibition at or during the event. This rule applies to all, but two of our categories, including at-large free public viewing (IE: Amazon, Netflix, Youtube, Vimeo, etc...) or at-large paid release dates (theatrical, DVD/Blu-Ray, VOD, etc..), including, but not limited to, advertised presales for your films DVD, Blu-Ray or VOD (As a non-profit company, we can not help you promote for-profit sales to your film as selectee to our festival). Our ONLY TWO categories that are allowed to be previously released and/or viewed online are our High School Student and Conservation Film competition categories. Projects with distribution deals and release dates AFTER the festival dates are still eligible for submission and/or exhibition. Although we diligently track your film and do our own research, it is your responsibility to inform CFF/CFI if the project's release date(s) have changed and are in conflict with this rule, as it will either be eliminated from our program and/or taken out of competition at our discretion.

I, submitter, have read and agree to the festival submission and participation guidelines and certify that I am authorized to submit this work to the Catalina Film Institute (CFI) and its subsidiaries. Any copyrighted materials included in the work have been legally cleared for use, and CFI is not responsible for any copyright infringement resulting from public screenings. By submitting you agree to indemnify the Catalina Film Institute and all its subsidiaries, AKA’s, employee’s, directors, assigns, staff and volunteers from any wrongdoing involving the exhibition of your project. CFI will NOT take responsibility for any infringement of copy written materials and reserves the right to reject your project if found it doesn't have clearance.

I, submitter, hereby grants and assigns to CFI and its successors and licensees the right to copy the entry in its entirety to facilitate technical operations of the festival, in and through any and all media formats now known or hereafter devised. All submissions will be retained by the Catalina Film Institute for pre-selection, film festival archives and — following written permission from the rights holder — event exhibition or a possible private exhibition with the Catalina Film Institute and/or Catalina Film Society.

I, submitter, acknowledge and agree that all matters not covered by these regulations, and questions arising from them, will be decided by Festival organizers or programmers at their sole discretion.

Overall Rating
  • Derrex Brady

    My entire team had an amazing experience screening our film "Roberta's Rules" at the Catalina Film Festival. The communication was consistent and our liaison was always extremely helpful. As the director/writer, I was so honored to have my film amongst such quality films in the festival. Now as a Catalina Film Festival Alumni, I am absolutely looking forward to next year and submitting future projects.

    October 2023
  • We are honored to be a part of Catalina Film Festival. Their invitation to the director's panel was also very nice and it shows how much they care about filmmakers and promote their art. Thank you to the Festival team and staff for making this Film Festival.

    October 2023
  • Cody Hall

    We had a great time showing our short film "Scare Tag" at the Catalina Film Festival! The communication was great and the slate of films were fantastic.

    October 2023
  • Catalina was such a wonderful festival experience: the events, panels, and networking were all executed in a beautiful way and I loved exploring the artistic community on the island. Would definitely recommend this event, thank you for doing a beautiful festival!

    October 2023
  • Well, it was my first in-the-flesh festival, so I dont know how to compare. However, CFF set the bar pretty d*** high.
    Great locale, easy to get to, well organized, and amazing staff (Julia, Emily, and so many others whose names I failed to get).
    But really an amazing weekend on the island.
    Even not winning Best of Fest felt okay, because i was surrounded by aspiring artists, talent, energy, professionalism, and so much more. Bravo, CFF staff and organizers. Bravo!
    If you're ready to enter some fests, don't hesitate. CFF is legit.

    October 2023