MovieMaker Magazine 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World

MovieMaker Magazine Top 25 Genre Film Festivals in the World” 2019/2020/2021

FilmFreeway Top 100 Best Reviewed Film Festivals in the World 2022

Dread Central’s Best Horror Film Festivals in the World 2021 & 2022

A Fangoria Approved Film Festival

CFF is an entirely volunteer-run non-profit film festival. Though we’ve often been billed as a genre or a horror film festival, the truth is every year; we gather a selection of films we genuinely love and share them with an audience we also LOVE. So whatever type of film your project is, don't hesitate to send it our way. We think of CFF as our yearly movie mixtape, and any mixtape worth its salt owes it to its listener to have a good mix of all kinds of things. We also encourage weirdness: There, we said it.

We share films that are unique, challenging, significant (both critically and well, haha otherwise), and most importantly, fun. We particularly love little films that feel like big films because we like to think of Chattanooga as a small town with big ideas. Our ultimate goal is to remember, discover and cultivate cinema worthy of everyone's love and respect and create a community of warm-hearted cinephiles around it.

Accessibility MATTERS and we believe more film festivals need to remember that.

CFF is simply put, a summer camp for cinephiles, and we hope you'll consider sending your film our way for consideration. Please don't take our word for it, though here's what the press and a few of our past guests are saying about us:

"The Southern Sundance. Given my experience at this year’s fest, I wouldn’t find it surprising if the Chattanooga Film Festival one day surpassed its elder cousin in the North. For the non-film nerds among you, this is a killer lineup. This is Haight-Ashbury in 1969."

"The Chattanooga Film Festival [rated among the top 30 genre fests in the world] has rapidly developed a solid rep as a back-to-basics exhibition of noteworthy cinema. On the genre circuit, it has become a key destination for Southern fans in search of the best fear fare, shown in both its main CFFeatures and MES After Hours categories. It treats aspiring auteur attendees right, as well."

"I tell ya, a fest like this will restore your faith in this scene and send you out of its orbit floating on air. The CFF is one fest that not only pivoted to virtual when they needed to; they recognized the value and importance of that accessibility beyond the pandemic, and have navigated a path to maintain both. It’s quite a feat. Theirs is not a model that can be replicated by larger film fests, but I walked away believing that the CFF is the gold standard on how to run a welcoming, unpretentious, no-bullshit film fest for folks who want to hang out and have a good time together. It was a good three-day reminder that the horror scene is, when we put a little effort in, a pretty positive and joyous one."
Phil Nobile Jr. - FANGORIA

“A Must-Visit Genre Festival!” As a journalist, programmer, and filmmaker, I've been to my fair share of film festivals. I've just arrived home from Chattanooga Film Festival, and.... WOW.”

“Honestly, just hell yeah.” When it comes to Tennessee’s Chattanooga Film Festival. This is maybe one of the best all-around festivals in the entire country. The programming is impressive, tight, and truly supportive of provocative, independent voices. There’s a real love of the city itself at Chatt, and anyone that attends comes away promising to attend again.”

“CFF combines a giddy reverence for lost classics with a discerning eye for the next wave of great filmmakers. Chattanooga Film Festival is an impressive DIY effort that has grown into a marvelous impressive showcase of inspiring, punk and original programming.”

“The Chattanooga Film Fest has [quickly] done what many festivals strive for for decades: to collect an electric group of filmmakers and connect them to a community tremendously eager to meet them. The energy is palpable, the films exceptional, and the backdrop of Chattanooga’s arts and technology scene only serves to create one of the most attractive young festivals in the nation.”

“Chris Dortch and his incredible team have crafted an excellent film festival with fantastic programming that brought everyone together in a celebration of cinema. I look forward to its continued growth and to hang out in Chattanooga again!”

“I was so fortunate as a youngster to find a productive place in the film and television industry, and when the Chattanooga Film Festival wanted to honor my 55 years of contributions to entertainment, I was humbled and proud. I’m not a center-of- the-bulls-eye kind of actor, so when a truly independent festival, run by independent folks, want to acknowledge me, it makes me realize that I’m doing something right. I love how the festival began, I love it that Chris Dortch has tremendous passion for film, and I love how the filmgoers in Chattanooga (and the surround-ing region) support and embrace projects three minutes to three hours.”

“In an era when film festivals have become bloated commercial bazaars full of hustlers, propagandists and job seekers, Chattanooga has a refreshing innocence as a place where movie lovers gather by the Tennessee River, expecting to be amazed by the art form itself. There’s a renewal going on here, a return to basics, and anyone who cares about the future of cinema should become part of it.”

“The Chattanooga film festival is more than just another fledgling, regional film festival. It is truly special and has the potential to become one of the mini-majors. The force that makes CFF a standout is founder Chris Dortch, who is both a serious and passionate cineaste and a civic-minded community builder. The movies are great, but as important is the support for regional artists. It was an honor to be a part of the festival program this year.”

"An amazing festival! It was hard to believe how young it is!’

Best Feature
Best Short Film
Best Documentary
Best Regional Film
Best Student Film
Audience Award - Feature
Audience Award - Short

General Rules

-Entry fee is per category and non-refundable.
-Submission does not guarantee screening.
-All genres of film are accepted.

-Films must be submitted before the end of the deadline that you paid for
-Online screeners (Vimeo, YouTube, etc) are preferred.
-DVDs and physical submissions formats are NOT accepted
-Short films must be under 30 minutes
-Foreign language films must be subtitled or dubbed in English
-If not a foreign film subtitles are still appreciated for audience accessibility reasons
-Please do not send press kits with your screener. If your film is selected, formatting guidelines, a press kit, and promotional items will be requested
-Submitting filmmakers do not dictate how we schedule or handle ticketing for their films if selected.
-Fee waivers are not available except to alumni filmmakers
-From 2020 on our festival will have an annual online component so films restricted against inclusion in a virtual or hybrid event can still be submitted but these restrictions may prevent the films from being selected.
-Student submissions must be accompanied by a copy of current student ID or submitted with a .edu email address.


I agree to the terms outlined in the General Rules section of the Chattanooga Film Festival (CFF). Submission grants CFF the right to utilize an excerpt from any film (up to 2 minutes) submitted and accepted for exhibition at the Festival for promotional purposes. The individual or corporation submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to commit the film for screening, and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations. Submitting person or persons shall indemnify and hold harmless CFF 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.

Overall Rating
  • Jesse Aultman

    Fantastic festival! Had a blast and they do a lot for filmmakers. Can't wait to return.

    August 2023
  • Manuel Lagos

    Love this festival. I've been twice now when they programmed my student short film and now my feature. Really genuine folks, no pretension. At first I was really apprehensive of taking part in the virtual aspect of the festival but the CFF team has created a great format for engagement and networking virtually as much as in person.

    July 2023
  • Bolen Miller

    This is the best run film festival I have been to! Great curation, great people running the festival, the most friendly and helpful festival workers I've ever encountered. They really curated it to make you feel like you're at a festival and not just watching movies all weekend. If you go to one film festival, make it Chattanooga and if you go to many festivals, don't miss Chattanooga!

    July 2023
  • Addie Doyle

    Absolutely adore Chattanooga. They have been so generous to our team. They are so kind and excellent communicators. Thank you so much to the entire staff and crew!

    July 2023
  • Rachel Bryant

    This was my 2nd time attending CFF (3rd selection) and I was once again taken by the quality of work that was part of this festival. I also really loved how there were parties every night of the festival and everything was very clearly marked on the daily schedules. I will be submitting again and hopefully attending again as well. This fest is one of the best!

    July 2023