Located in the heart of Cajun country, the annual eight-day Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival is an international juried film festival dedicated to presenting narrative, documentary, animated and experimental films and filmmakers with truly original voices in one of the friendliest, most unique cultures in the world. COTB is also committed to promoting both established and emerging filmmakers and the relationship-building that is crucial to their continued work.

Cinema on the Bayou, Louisiana's second oldest film festival, was founded in 2006 in Lafayette, Louisiana, by filmmaker Pat Mire after Hurricane Katrina caused the cancellation of the New Orleans Film Festival in the fall of 2005. Pat was contacted by the National Film Board of Canada, which offered a U.S. premiere of the documentary MAROON, by famed Quebecois filmmaker Andre Gladu, which was originally scheduled to premiere in New Orleans. Cinema on the Bayou was launched in response, and Gladu and his film opened the inaugural Festival. Pat continues to serve as Artistic Director of the Festival.

Since 2006, Cinema on the Bayou has presented hundreds of internationally acclaimed documentary, narrative fiction, animated and experimental films, with filmmakers in attendance from across the United States and around the world. The Festival is now unique among film festivals in the U.S. in that it also regularly screens a large number of French-language independent films and presents filmmakers from throughout the Francophone world. The Festival also has the distinction among film festivals of having given the Audience Award to Moonbot Studio's animated film THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE one year before the film was nominated for and won an Academy Award in the animated short category.

In January 2023, the 18th Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival screened over 180 films from across the United States and from around the world, including 68 French-language films, over the course of the eight-day Festival. Filmmakers, actors, producers and other industry professionals were in attendance from Canada, including Montreal, Winnipeg, Gaspésie, and Toronto; from across the United States, including Los Angeles, New York City, Austin, Sante Fe, Shreveport, New Orleans, and Vermont; and from Norway and London, England.

Cinema on the Bayou has been selected as the Editors' Choice for "goings-on in the South and beyond" by Garden and Gun Magazine. Describing our Cajun Country setting as a "stew of French, Spanish, and African influences," the Editors concluded that it was an ideal spot for Cinema on the Bayou, an international film festival "charged with exposing attendees to the most original voices in film while fostering cultural exchange among the French-speaking peoples of the world."

Cinema on the Bayou also made the list of the Top 15 Winter Film Festivals in the U.S. by AudNews, an on-line magazine for filmmakers and film lovers.

Over the years, the Festival also has earned the respect of its many loyal filmmaker alums who come from around the world to share in the joie de vivre that defines the culture here. It says a lot about the festival that these highly talented independent filmmakers not only make repeat visits to Cinema on the Bayou, but also recommend the Festival to their filmmaker colleagues.

Cinema on the Bayou also has partnered with several independent film distribution companies and festivals in the United States, Canada, South America, Japan and Europe in order to facilitate relationships designed to provide opportunities for filmmakers to reach wider, more diverse audiences.

The Festival is committed to creating these essential connections amid exquisite Cajun cuisine, amazing local music performances, and thought-provoking discussions, both on expert panels and at after-hours parties, about all that is near and dear to that creature known as the independent filmmaker.

FILM CATEGORIES: Narrative Feature, Narrative Short, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short, Animated Short and Experimental Short.

SCREENING COMMITTEES AND JUDGES: The Festival screening committees include filmmaker alums, and the roster of judges have been both festival programmers and filmmaker alum award-winners from previous Festivals, including Olivier "Bill" Bilodeau, Wendell Riley, Andy Cope, Louise Lamarre, Melanie Carrier, Olivier Higgins, Helgi Piccinin, Shaan Couture, John Blouin, Edward Tyndall, Bonnie Friedman, and Bruce Allen.

AWARDS: The "goujon caille" (the spotted catfish -- Cajun culture's most prized catfish) award, by renowned artists Pat and Andre Juneau, is given in the following categories:

Director's Choice Special Jury Award
Le Train Bleu Award
Best Narrative Feature Award
Special Jury Award - Narrative Feature
Best Narrative Short Award
Special Jury Award - Narrative Short
Best Documentary Feature Award
Special Jury Award - Documentary Feature
Best Documentary Short Award
Special Jury Award - Documentary Short
Best Animated Short Award
Special Jury Award - Animated Short
Best Experimental Short Award
Special Jury Award - Experimental Short
Best Actor
Best Cinematography
Inspiration Award
Audience Award

FESTIVAL PASSES AND LODGING: For all filmmakers whose films are accepted, Cinema on the Bayou offers two all-access passes for filmmakers in attendance and complimentary lodging for up to two nights per film for filmmakers traveling from outside the United States and for one night per film for filmmakers traveling from outside Louisiana. The Festival also offers reduced rates at the Festival hotel for filmmakers and their guests attending the Festival. Additionally, the Festival provides plenty of after-hours food and drink for our visiting filmmakers, including nightly after-parties at the "Cinema on the Bayou House." As Founder and Artistic Director Pat Mire likes to say, "we weigh them when they arrive and again when they leave, and I promise you, no one looses weight at Cinema on the Bayou!"

FILM CATEGORIES: Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival is open to all narrative, documentary, animated and experimental films of all styles and subjects, as well as foreign language films. Foreign language films must have English subtitles.

ELIGIBILITY: The film must have been completed after January 31, 2022.

PREMIERE REQUIREMENTS: Preference will be given to U.S. and Louisiana premieres. Films that have screened publicly in Lafayette, Louisiana or within a 75 mile radius of Lafayette, as well as film that have been released in theaters or on VOD or other internet outlets are NOT eligible for submission. By submitting the film, the filmmaker (or other person submitting) confirms that the film has not been and will not be screened in Lafayette, Louisiana or within a 75 mile radius or released on VOD or other internet outlets prior to Cinema on the Bayou 2024.

SUBMISSION FORMAT AND REQUIREMENTS: An online screener ) must be submitted (postmarked) by the applicable submission deadline via FilmFreeway.

SCREENING HISTORY: Please include with your submission the screening history of the film and its premiere status, and please keep this information updated. While a cover letter is not required, we welcome one with information concerning your interest in Cinema on the Bayou and your inspiration for the film.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Please include with your submission your physical address as well as the best number and email by which to contact you.

RECEIPT AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT: Receipt of your entry will be acknowledged via FilmFreeway.

PAYMENT: Submission fees should be paid via FilmFreeway.

EXHIBITION FORMAT: If your film is accepted, the Festival must receive, as directed by Festival staff, by Friday, December 22, 2023, the following: an exhibition copy of the film in the following formats: a digital (downloadable) file such as .MOV or MP4 less than 10 GB in size. Please do not send a DCP unless specifically requested by the Festival staff.

The filmmaker agrees to be responsible for all shipping and insurance costs for shipping exhibition materials to the Festival.

To receive the return of a copy of a film hard drive or jump drive, the filmmaker must enclose a self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage with the exhibition copy.

ADDITIONAL TERMS OF ENTRY: Cinema on the Bayou reserves the right to disqualify any submission without refund of submission fees.

By submitting the film, the filmmaker (or other person submitting) confirms that the film has not and will not be screened in Lafayette, Louisiana or within a 75 mile radius from Lafayette, and has not been released in theaters or on VOD or other internet outlets prior to COTB 2024. He or she also confirms that he or she is authorized to submit the film, has cleared or will clear all intellectual property rights necessary for the screening of the film at this film festival, and holds harmless Cinema on the Bayou from any liability arising from the submission or use of the film. All submissions become the property of Cinema on the Bayou, and DVD's will not be returned. If the film is accepted, it is with the understanding that clips, photos and stills of and related to the film may be used to promote the Festival.

Cinema on the Bayou does not pay screening fees or guarantee travel or distribution for filmmakers.

All accepted films may be screened more than once and are scheduled at the discretion of the Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival staff.

Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival is hereby granted the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the festival for promotional purposes. The Festival is also hereby granted the right to utilize images and/or biographical information of the filmmakers for promotional purposes.

By completing the online entry form, the person submitting the film acknowledges his/her full and complete acceptance of the terms hereof and that he/she has read and complies with all 2024 Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival Terms of Entry.

Overall Rating
  • John Barnard

    One of the most pleasant festival experiences I've had. Thoughtful in both programming and hospitality, COTB has nailed a lovely vibe. Both the film and myself were welcomed and spoiled. Very highly recommend.

    September 2023
  • Kaylin Allshouse

    A great festival with great people! Loved being able to screen our short film here. There are multiple venues across Columbus where the screenings take place and lots to see. The festival is also well attended; The three short film blocks I went to all had full theaters. Highly recommend!

    May 2023
  • Bård Kjøge Rønning

    Magnificent festival. Met so many nice people and had a blast from beginning to end.

    March 2023
  • Will LaCalle

    This is a special festival and being in the heart of “Cajun country” in Louisiana around people who love art and filmmaking is inspiring. The food, the people, the films, the scenery, the music, the culture, etc. I can’t say enough good things about attending COTBFF. Everyone involved in the festival were kind, welcoming and supportive of our film, “Andrew After Angola” (winner: Best Documentary Shorts Award). Would love to come back again.

    February 2023
  • I was excited to be accepted by this festival but was unable to attend. I reached out a couple of times once they had contacted me but never had any more connections. My film was in the online portion of the festival. I have no idea how many, if any, viewed my film. I'm sure being there is much better. It looked full of good films.

    February 2023