The Chicago Horror Film Festival has become a Chicago institution. With a past that started with the historic 3 Penny Cinema and a future continuing to grow with new venues and special guests. What has once started with a simple one day festival to showcase Short Independent Horror films has now become a festival for both feature and short horror films and to be known for seeing many of it’s featured films picked up for distribution.

In 2015 we started screening ALL DIGITAL! We are only accepting submissions via online screener (here on and exhibition films will need to be in MOV, MP4 or AVI formats if selected. We are not accepting DVD/BluRay/Hardcopy submissions any longer.

The Chicago Horror Film Festival is an independent film festival and mixed media event.

We strive to support independent film, and promote all types of dark art. We go the extra mile to get recognition beyond the festival alone for the amazingly talented people in this industry. Even films submitted to us that don't get accepted for the festival are very often reviewed and written about by one of our columnists for one of our websites or print magazine publications including Breaking Fate Magazine!

Best Feature
Best Short
Best Director
Best Writer
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography
Best Editing
Best Special FX
Best Music
Best Sound
Directors Choice Award

The Chicago Horror Screenplay Contest

More Information On The Chicago Horror Film Festival Awards:

*Award Winners will be announced in a ceremony at the end of the festival. Winners in attendance will be presented a certificate. Those not in attendance can obtain a digital certificate to print via the official website within 48 hours after the close of the festival. Winners will also be posted in the news feed (front page) and Awards Page of within 48 hours of the close of the festival.

** Our Selection / Awards Procedure: Festival Director / Producers make official selections for the festival by vote. Official Selections are then screened/graded by 5 different judges anonymously and given an overall grade on a 5 point scale for each of the qualifying award categories (with the exception of the “Directors Choice Award”). All judges points are then added together to give it a grade. The top 5 films by grade in each category are then considered an award nominee and listed on this page. The film with the highest grade in each category is considered and announced that category’s award winner at the festival. In the event of a tie for highest grade, the festival director, festival producer and festival founder will each vote on the tied films giving the majority vote the award. In the event that one of the production staff are involved in one of the films involving a tie, a 3rd party will be selected to vote in place of the production staff member involved.

*** Special Recognition Awards are given to any film that is nominated (in top 5 by votes) in 5 or more categories. The way we see it is, even if the film didn’t score the highest in any of the categories, to be a nominee in 5 or more categories means that the film was extremely good across the board. (The Festival Directors Choice Award category don’t qualify for the Special Recognition Awards)

**** The Festival Directors Choice Award nominee’s are the Film Festival Directors top 5 choice films of the festival. The Directors Choice Award is presented at the festival to the Directors favorite film of the festival. (Any film that the festival director is personally involved in at any level is not eligible for this award.)

***** The Chicago Horror Screenplay Contest*****
Top 10 - Semi-Finalist (Considered "Accepted")
Top 5 - Finalist (Considered "Award Nominee")
Top 1 - Winner of the Chicago Horror Screenplay Award

Award Winners will be announced LIVE at The Chicago Horror Film Festival!

Festival is open to any film that might be considered a horror film, or anything of a disturbing nature, dark art and/or frightening.

There is NO 'Film Made By' date. We have shown horror films from as early as the 30's. Please feel free to submit your early work as well as your current work.

Rules for Submissions

The rules are basic but necessary. Please take a quick look at the info below before you submit.

I, the undersigned, acknowledge and agree:

I have read, understated and fully comply with all submission eligibility information, Submission Guidelines, Terms and Conditions of Entry and Entry Eligibility requirements.

To the best of my knowledge, all of the statements in this submission are true.

This film or video is not subject to any litigation nor is threatened by any litigation.

I am duly authorized to submit this film to the festival.

I hold Breaking Fate Entertainment / The Chicago Horror Film Festival harmless from any damage to the print(s) or media materials(s) en route or otherwise during the course of the festival’s possession of the film.

I hold Breaking Fate Entertainment / The Chicago Horror Film Festival its owners, management, juries, subsidiaries, agents, sponsors, affiliates, and etc. harmless from any and all claims of liability resulting from my entry.

I certify that I have full rights to the use of the music in the entered work.

I give permission for Breaking Fate Entertainment / The Chicago Horror Film Festival to use stills, titles, copy, and/or information from the short for promotional purposes

I give permission for Breaking Fate Entertainment / The Chicago Horror Film Festival to screen the film at the Festival for which it was submitted.

If selected I will provide Breaking Fate Entertainment / The Chicago Horror Film Festival with a digital copy of my films movie poster (in vertical format) for use on the festival website.

Overall Rating
  • Jeff Hamm

    Fantastic! I really wish we could've made it up there, but it was very well organized.

    October 2017
  • Eric Stafford

    The festival is a lot of fun and Chicago is just a great city. It's rare that indie filmmakers get to screen at theaters as awesome as the patio theater and the organizers and staff are very friendly and helpful. I'd recommend to any horror filmmakers.

    October 2017
  • Matilda Szydagis

    Amazing venue, wonderful fest, creepy ;) I also loved the vendors in the lobby selling their spooky wares. That was a really nice touch. Thanks so much again for having us!!!

    October 2017
  • Karen Bacellar

    I had a great time at this year's festival. Loved seeing my film on the big screen in a classic movie palace and happy we took home the award for Best Short Film. :)

    September 2017
  • Julia Mercer

    Overall this festival was underwhelming and disappointing - I don’t recommend submitting to it.

    I was so happy to find out that my short had gotten into what seemed like a professional and exciting film festival. Our short is more of a comedy, but we submitted because we saw that there was a “Best Comedy” award category. I had my family come from out of town to see my film in this festival and couldn’t have been more embarrassed.

    1) There was no “Best Comedy” award category in the festival, despite it being advertised on FilmFreeway.
    2) There was no host either outside of the theater to let us know when we can sit / when our program starts or in the theater to introduce the films.
    3) No host means no one was thanked for coming and no filmmakers were thanked for being part of the festival.
    4) I saw the guy who runs the festival (sitting on the lap of a woman who might be his girlfriend) when we entered and he did not introduce himself, despite having had corresponded via e-mail before the festival.
    5) The projector in the theater was very dark and seemed to be in need of a new light bulb.
    6) The sound of some of the films was too quiet and it wasn’t fixed until the film was almost over, giving me the impression that the person projecting wasn’t paying very close attention.
    7) There were people talking and laughing loudly outside of the theater which I could hear while the films played.
    8) The house lights in the theater were not turned on during the intermission, and there were lights along the wall that were not turned off or dimmed during the playing of the films.
    9) I was asked if we’d be attending the festival, although I don’t know why because we were not recognized in any way.

    The overall vibe was disorganized and unprofessional. I didn’t feel welcome or appreciated by the people running the festival in any way.

    The reason I feel comfortable giving these criticisms is because I’ve been to smaller film festivals in Chicago where things were done professionally and I believe my expectations are fair. My production partner has also run a film festival in college and ran it much better than this person/people who have supposedly done this for many years.

    I don’t recommend submitting to this festival because of how disappointing the experience was - it’s not worth the money or time.

    September 2017