The Chicago International Film Festival celebrates the best that cinema has to offer. Showcasing films from established masters and emerging storytellers, the Festival welcomes films from around the world. Offering an impressive selection of competitive and non-competitive programming, the Chicago International Film Festival brings films both domestic and international to silver screens in Chicago.
As one of the main cultural importers of world cinema to the Midwest, the Chicago International Film Festival is a place for audiences and filmmakers to engage with one another. The Festival features a host of screenings, panels, educational events, and Q&A’s that foster cultural understanding and artistic engagement.
In 2017, the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival presented over 140 feature films including 30 feature-length documentaries and 55 short subject films from over 56 countries. The Festival welcomed films from over 30 new directors to Chicago this year, exemplifying the spirit of discovery that has long been its calling card.
The Chicago International Film Festival is the longest-running competitive film festival in North America. Films programmed in these competitions are eligible for awards across a variety of categories.
International Feature Film Competition
Representing a wide variety of styles and genres, these works compete for the top honor, the Gold Hugo - as well as awards for best actor, actress, director, writer, and more - in North America's longest-running competitive film festival.
New Directors Competition
This selection of first and second feature films, receiving their U.S. premiere in Chicago, celebrates the spirit of discovery and innovation upon which the Festival was founded. To be eligible for the competition, films must be at least a U.S. premiere if selected for the Festival.
Global in scope and representing a wide range of approaches to documentary form, this program offers a diverse cross-section of contemporary non-fiction filmmaking in both competitive and non-competitive sections. To be eligible for the International Documentary Competition, films must be at least a U.S. premiere if selected for the Festival.
From the edgy to the tender, these bold LGBTQ-themed films exhibit new artistic perspectives on sexuality and identity, and compete for the Q Hugo Award.
Short Film Competitions
Annually showcasing the best short films from around the globe, this competition highlights the work of both upcoming artists and masters of the short subject form. Programmed films are eligible for awards in the following categories: Animation, Documentary, and Live Action. The winners of the Best Live Action and Best Documentary Short awards are eligible to be considered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the Academy Awards®.
City & State
This program celebrates Illinois’ rich filmmaking tradition, showcasing the best features, documentaries, and short films with their roots right here in Illinois. Films in this section compete for the Chicago Award, given to the year’s best Illinois film.
All films in the Festival are eligible for the Founder’s Award, presented to one film or performance that captures the spirit of the Chicago International Film Festival for its unique and innovative approach to the art of the moving image.
A) Eligibility Requirements
1. Films completed on or after October 1, 2017 are eligible for consideration
2. Films that have premiered on or before October 26, 2017 are NOT eligible for consideration.
3. Films previously submitted to the Chicago International Film Festival are NOT eligible for consideration.
4. Films must be at least a Chicago premiere, and US premieres are given priority. Films that (a) have screened publicly in the Chicago area, (b) have had a theatrical run in the US prior to the Festival dates, (c) have aired on US television prior to the Festival dates, or (d) are available for purchase in North America are NOT eligible.
5. Feature-length films (narrative or documentary) that are available for public online viewing in their entirety are NOT eligible. Short films (under 40 min) may be available online.
6. Films shown at private screenings not open to the public (for crew, investors, etc.) are eligible.
7. All entries must be either in English or subtitled in English. Dialogue lists are not accepted.
8. Entrant confirms and warrants required legal authority to submit the entry to the Festival and to use all music, images, and content in the entry.
B) Submission Guidelines
1. Feature-length films must be submitted via online screener hosted by Vimeo, on DVD or on Blu-ray disc. (It is recommended that films submitted via online screener be available for our programming staff to download.).
2. Only complete entries (including fee payment and screener) will be considered.
3. Entrants are permitted to submit works-in-progress (i.e., without final color correction or sound mixing), but please note that the programming committee will only consider the version submitted. Subsequent cuts or replacement copies will only be accepted at the request of the programming committee.
4. To qualify for student entry fee rates, entrant must include proof of student status at the time of production (e.g., copy of student ID, transcript, etc.)
5. All films selected for the Chicago International Film Festival will screen on DCP unless otherwise arranged by the submitting filmmaker and programming team.
Early deadline entries must be postmarked/submitted online by April 9, 2018.
Regular deadline entries must be postmarked/submitted online by June 18, 2018.
Late deadline entries must be postmarked/submitted online by July 9, 2018.
The cost of shipping an entry to the Festival must be paid by the entrant. Collect or COD shipments will not be accepted. All international entries must be sent “free domicile” to the Festival office with all transportation charges, duties, and taxes prepaid by the shipper. For films selected to screen at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival, the Festival will only cover one-way shipping costs for the Festival screening hard drive or DCP.
E) Judging & Selection
Films are selected for Festival presentation by the Chicago International Film Festival programming committee. If a film is selected, the Festival office will contact the entrant by phone or email.
All entrants will be notified on or before August 31, 2018
Films selected for the International Feature, Documentary, New Directors, and Out-Look Competitions are judged during the Festival. All other competitive film categories, including the Chicago Award and Short Film Competition, are judged before the Festival.
F) Entry Fees
Each entry must be accompanied by the appropriate entry fee. Entry fees are not refundable. Fees cover registration, registration notification, full consideration by the programming department, and notification of the results. These fees may be paid by check or money order, made payable to Cinema/Chicago, or by credit card (VISA, MasterCard, or American Express).
Postmark deadline: April 9 June 18 July 9
Feature-length narrative $90.00 $100.00 $200.00
Feature-length documentary $70.00 $80.00 $150.00
Short film (under 40 min) $40.00 $50.00 $70.00
Student film: feature (over 40 min) $40.00 $50.00 $80.00
Student film: short (under 40 min) $20.00 $30.00 $50.00