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 to the world’s arts and entertainment community.

Through our annual Catalina Film Festival and other various festivals and branches, like the Catalina Film Society, Catalina Film Radio Program, Lions’ Den®, 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 audience exposure to Los Angeles 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, get them the industry exposure to help sustain their craft for many years to come.

Hosted right here in Los Angeles County, on Hollywood's famous and historic “Island To The Stars”, CFF is one of the world’s premier film events garnering over 90 Billion media impressions worldwide!

The clear blue water around this sub-tropical island is right in Hollywood’s backyard with all its majestic beauty and rich iconic 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 (an 1,184-seat movie palace) inside the world famous Avalon Casino building (that opened May 29, 1929). This exotic island has been entertaining Hollywood’s elite for over 100 years, as 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, 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.

The first few days of our event are launched from the mainland cities that depart to Catalina Island during our “Catalina Launch Week”. We use multiple screening venues and fun party locations. And when on the island for the weekend of fun, all the venues and locations are within walking, biking and/or shuttle distance. 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 numerous yacht services and 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. And maybe a fun weekend party cruise, or two, to take you on and off the island for the festivities over the weekend… 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 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 prizes 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 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.

Revised October, 2017

All films must have a completion date NO GREATER than 2 years before the first day of this film festival. 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: 1-25 minutes
Feature Films: 50-180 minutes

Short Films Length Explained:
The Catalina Film Institute believes "short" films should be... SHORT (25 minutes and under). 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;, and also take up a greater portion of the film block; keeping our judges from highlighting 2-5 (5-10 minute) other great films that could have otherwise fit in that block. To put it more simply, a 30 minute short is 1/3 the length of a feature film, therefore it will dominate that entire shorts' block.

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 after 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 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 or some other acceptable secure online screening format with your submission.

This film festival is used to help our non-profit mission sustain 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 very 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 screening judges look over and grade each project. CFI believes all festivals should be transparent and submitters are entitled to see their scores and grades, just ask if you'd like CFI to send them, it is part of your entry fee and we want you to know that you didn't just simply get a "yes" or a "no", we DID watch/read and grade your project.

PLEASE DO NOT SEND PRESS MATERIALS, PRINTED 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, but it 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 a scene within the project with key art/ poster (if available). Image must be in JPG or PNG format and AT LEAST 300 dpi resolution.
2. A trailer of the film emailed to us in .MOV or .MP4 format 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 and 35mm can only be used in one venue currently; the Avalon Theatre).
4. Copies of press releases and additional press materials after acceptance ONLY, please do not send 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 island.

CFF prefers HD digital formats for exhibiting High-Definition Films, or DCP ONLY if you're placed in our venue that can support DCP. Because our festival is on an island, a finalized and QC'd Blu-Ray backup copy is also required in case digital media fails for any reason.


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.

You are still eligible if you have a distribution deal, but no film project with theatrical distribution and/or release dates before or during the festival's programmed dates will be eligible for submission, acceptance and/or exhibition at the event. This rule applies to most categories, whether for free or paid public viewing (including Amazon, Netflix, Youtube, Vimeo, etc...) or a paid public audience (theatrical, DVD/Blu-Ray, VOD, etc..), including, but not limited to any advertised presales for your films DVD, Blu-Ray or VOD. Our ONLY TWO categories that are allowed to be previously released and/or viewed online are our High School Student competition and Conservation Film 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 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
  • Elizabeth Ayiku

    This review is defintiely a long time coming.. Out of all the festivals I’ve been to Catalina Film Fest has by far had the BEST communication and been THE MOST hospitable. Karyl (like Christmas) was my point of contact and was amazing from beginning to end. I’m a newer filmmaker but I felt welcomed and appreciated by all the staff and volunteers. Thank you so much for the wonderful experience. I hope to be back someday soon - Elizabeth :)

    April 2018
  • Stacey Van Gorder Leung

    The Catalina Film Festival was such an incredibly welcoming, positive, friendship-building festival. Our film was in such impressive company, we were extremely proud to be apart of it.

    January 2018
  • Joe Petricca

    The Catalina film Festival was a wonderful experience. I applaud the organizers because every festival staff member had watched all of the films - it was great that any staff member would strike up a conversation because they had already seen my film. And they could recommend other films int he program easily. There were other filmmakers to meet as well as connections - all on this lovely little island.

    October 2017
  • Fantastic festival! The venue was great and I really enjoyed the films and the networking and seminars. Next year I'll try the Lion's Den.

    October 2017
  • Eric Raingruber

    I appreciated the entire festival team working hard to make this a special event for everyone. This is a great festival in a beautiful location!

    October 2017